One of the hazards of poking around the Internet is that you can run into people you feel you know. People you don't actually know, mind you, but feel you have some claim on because of their publicly available work. Writers are classic for this, but it can happen with anyone who offers a portion of their personal creativity up for public consumption: painters, musicians, dancers, athletes, you name it.
It happened to me today, and now I'm feeling a little let down. Because an author who's work I adore, and whose lead character is one of my favorite novel characters of all time isn't at all what I expected him to be. It's unfair, but there it is. Where I expected someone witty, quirky, and stylish, classy perhaps, I got someone, well..., crass. And the crassness doesn't alter my opinion of his writing, but it still dissappoints me. Like I was expecting a friend, and got someone I wouldn't want to sit next to on a bus.
The sad thing is that it is frequently thus, but that doesn't alter the expectations. Someone can be sublime in print, transcendant in the notes, and excreble in real life. Wittiness cannot be created from nothing, but there's no law that says the person who writes wittily has to manifest that in their daily life. Madeleine L'Engle's mother was always dissappointed that Wagner, whose music she loved, was such an awful person. Christie Brinkly noted after her divorce from Billy Joel that there's a tremendous difference between being able to write a wrenching love ballad, and being able to show your emotions to your loved one in your daily life.
It does make me wonder, though, what opinion people will form of me by reading what I write, and whether I would meet or destroy their expectations if they met me in person. For that matter, it makes me wonder if they would expect very different people if they were to read my non-fiction writing as opposed to my stories. At the moment it's not much of a concern, seeing as how I have no published fiction, but someday that might change. I suppose if and when it does, somebody will probably meet me after reading, and either tell me "You're just as I expected!", or just possibly, feel the way I'm feeling right now.