I think we all saw this coming. The belligerent status updates. The random glitch art. The amusing but ultimately half-hearted writing prompts. And all those freaking music posts. What was once a cornucopia of mostly thoughtful, if occasionally belligerent, irreverent, or sardonic, poems and prose, slowly devolved in a fairly predictable manner. Ah, poor, poor, boy. One day people will say, “Hey, do you remember that Johnny Pitt guy?” and a 15 year old Filipino girl somewhere will say “Who?” and then post something in Tagalog.
It’s been fun. I feel I accomplished a decent amount in terms of what can be accomplished in the scope of a site like Tumblr. Not a lot, but a decent amount. I was never able to monetize like Lang Leav like I had hoped, or garner a massive fanbase above more than a couple dozen dedicated readers. Still, I had fun. I catapulted from obscurity to what seemed like a semi-popular mythic state, all driven by a coincidentally good name and the desperate need to purge myself of my romantic feelings. I owe Jen for that one. I released one of the first “chapbooks” in my local ecosystem and got a lot of minds spinning. I ran multiple projects and then eventually abandoned them after decent local success, even inspiring a couple other similar ventures (yes, Critical Inking is dead and I’m retiring RadioTWC. The former is up for grabs, though). I was involved in other people’s projects, which I thoroughly enjoyed working on. And finally, I became an editor of both the poetry and prose tags. That’s worth mentioning, isn’t it? (Actually, no one in real life besides my mom seems to be impressed by it, so, YMMV.)
So what happened? Well, I happened. As Tumblr and the TWC at large seem to be for many people, I found an escape in them. I was able to elude myself and express my guilt and shame and self-loathing and what ultimately I can’t help but look at as mental illness. I mean, I called myself the “creepy writer”, and identified so strongly with it that I occasionally felt surprised when someone would call me by my real name. Creep became me, the dumping ground for my psyche at the time. For some reason, Creep was popular. Perhaps people related to him/me, or perhaps they couldn’t relate quite enough, or perhaps it was just close and raw enough but still so unknowable that people still wanted to know what was behind the mask. I received solicitations, flirtations, and admissions of love. I also got bizarre messages, saw jealous blog posts, and watched the high school circus act that Tumblr can be (no, -I- am the woman with the largest beard!). It gave room to my ambitions and I started to chase it, shoving myself into every nook and cranny of my tumblogosphere until at my peak I grossed ~500 followers in a week. Not bad for a sub-1k blogger, right? Of course, now I know that’s just peanuts.
So seriously, what happened? I happened. As I continued on my life also continued on, as fun as it might have been to have a perfect shell of armor. I realized that I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know what I wanted to write about, or who I wanted to be. I didn’t know how to brand or market myself, and my brokenness was at war with my need for recognition. I became a little skeptical and I wasn’t sure where to put my energies until I rationalized, I’ll never be able to sell real books with the moniker “Creepy Writer”. What was I going to do? Show up to book signings in a mask? (I actually considered this: maybe I could print a screenshot of my blog on a big cardboard box and cut out holes for my eyes.) Maybe I would hire some guy to pretend to be me? Even better—what if I actually pretended to be the real Creepy Writer unmasked, but let some details slip and act uncomfortable and let people believe that I was actually a poseur for the REAL Creepy Writer, throwing people off my trail and retaining my privacy? I even concocted plans with certain Tumblr friends to run social media experiments/alternate reality games on the TWC at large. Big ideas for a small person. After all, I had figured—if I was going to be famous, I had better set it up for myself right. But ultimately, I was never sound of mind or heart enough to go through with a plan. I was just trying to bleed out all the tar.
I unmasked myself, telling myself it would be better for business. Johnny Pitt was born, a ridiculous portmanteau of Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt that poked fun at the idea of celebrity. (I am nowhere near as handsome as either of these men, and about the Elephant Man in comparison to what science would create when they discover how to impregnate sperm with sperm.) I gave up a lot of power, but I gained what I was looking for: a little bit of humanity. I might have said it was to sell books, but the truth is that I was lonely. I was tired of replacing people’s names in my stories with single capital letters, writing gossiping, finger-beckoning, winking fiction, and not telling anyone who I was or even where I lived. And I did that for a while, trying to be more raw, trying to expose myself more. I felt like I had outgrown Creepy Writer, like trying to pursue that persona was limiting me as a person. So I wore Johnny Pitt as a second skin. I went to open mics, liberated by a new face—went to band showings, met people, introduced myself as Johnny and got nervous when bartenders asked me for my last name. It became my stage name, both for poetry and for separating myself from my professional life. I began exploring what life had to offer, especially as I started to get my living space in order and started making money. I started programming, got a job, and got more ambitions: but ambitions in chasing the golden goddess money, because I was sick of never having what I wanted or felt I needed. I started toying around with Tumblr more on the technical side, learning to gather data from blogs and Tumblr’s idiosyncrasies. (For example: I discovered a security exploit that allowed me to feature posts, as many times as I wanted, into any tag I wanted. Tumblr has since fixed it, but that was an entertaining couple of days.)
And so it went. Exploring, playing, growing. Me, myself, and I. Creepy, Johnny, me. This is nothing new: I’ve had names and personas for as long as I can remember and I couldn’t tell you why I constantly feel divided against myself. Now, I’m moving onto the next steps and things are making a little more sense. The grand irony is that I’m finally starting to feel more like myself and who I am (or who I think I might be), but I am no longer comfortable sharing that online because too many people know me now. I think it’s time for Johnny Pitt to retire.
I won’t be deactivating, but I probably won’t log in again besides to mention new stuff I might be working on, and I’ll always be doing new stuff. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience on Tumblr, and I made some good friends and some lame enemies. There’s no place quite like it, and everyone’s experience is different. That’s what I loved—you could create your own world here and surround yourself with the people you wanted to know and the things you wanted to see. There are amazing writers, thinkers, and all around people. There are also crazy people, boring people, and shitty people. That’s not a Tumblr thing, though; that’s just statistics. I hit the roof of my personal experience here and it’s time to grow on. I hope whoever is reading this, even if we’ve never spoken or you don’t even know who I am, I hope that you’ll keep in mind that ultimately Tumblr is just one social outlet out of hundreds (if not thousands). You can always go out and talk to people, as hard as it may be, and you should always do exactly what’s best for your mental health. Plenty of people have deactivated in the name of sanity. I don’t know if that’s why I’m leaving; it’s hard to dismiss a place that I’ve spent the past year and a half of my life obsessing over, thinking about, and planning for as just a silly place that didn’t mean anything. Not possible: I enjoyed the TinyChats, the gossip, the laughs, the great writing and the shitty writing, and even the assholes. I particularly enjoyed the people who can’t take a joke. Don’t forget to laugh at yourself, or else people like me will laugh at you harder.
Anyways, I could go on and on (and I have), but it’s time to go. If you want to keep in touch, you can shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with my associated Facebook and Twitter (probably just let them fall into disrepair), and I’m sure I’ll have a Tumblr again, but it won’t be Johnny Pitt and I won’t be here for the same reasons.
Much love and the best of luck in your journey.
creep / johnny / mista p