Creating a new identity: A writer is ‘almost’ born…

In the past 12 days I have successfully managed to write a Blog entry each day, (which was my original challenge to myself), write and be paid for three pieces of Ghost Writing (SEO pieces), submit a poem to an anthology, submit an essay to an online forum for women exploring their decisions to have children, or not, after the age of 35 and submit an essay to a Canadian National Newspaper.

I also took the decision to move my Blog from its initial home on the free site provided by my internet service provider, to an internationally hosted site Bluehost.com. Switching to using WordPress for writing the Blog entries took a little bit of getting used to, but the improved functionality is worth it. It also means that my site is automatically managed for different viewing technologies, such as PC’s, Macs, Computers, tablets and smart phones.

So now I come to the next big decision. Should I use a pseudonym for my non-academic writing?

So far, it hasn’t been a significant concern. My Blog is written as ‘Butterflies’ but my ‘Contact the author’ states clearly who I am and how to contact me. My Ghost Writing is, by definition, anonymous.

However, today I received notice that the essay that I originally wrote on adoption as a single parent of an older child, back in 2010, and recently revised and submitted has been accepted; subject to some revisions. Which made me start to think… Should I use a pen name to differentiate between my work and my hobby?

A friend reminded me today that the difference between a hobby and a career is that a hobby is when the activity costs you more than you receive in income from it; whereas a career is when it makes you more money than it costs you.

So I’m definitely in the hobby category right now.

But what if I do become more successful?

My costs have been very low so it wouldn’t take many more of those SEO Ghost Writing articles before I would move into the category of a second career.

Many famous authors use pen names, or pseudonyms. Why?

Well it seems that there are four main reasons:

The first is authors who write in multiple genres. They write under different names to help their readers identify the different genres. The author that comes to mind here for me is Nora Roberts who also writes as J.D.Robb. Given that I love her ‘In Death’ series which she writes as J.D Robb but really don’t care for her romance series as Nora Roberts I very much appreciate her doing this. I’d hate to buy one of her books expecting it to be in the J.D.Robb genre to find it was a Nora Roberts!

Incidentally, she also writes as Jill March and Sarah Hardesty. Her actual name being Eleanor Marie Robertson.

She’s not alone. There are many well established authors who write under different names for different countries, or genres.

The second reason for using a pen name is that of authors who failed with their first attempts. If they actually managed to get a publishing contract but didn’t make money for the publisher, they may well use a different name the next time around to disassociate the failure with the new attempt.

Similarly, contracted authors often have their name tied to a publisher as part of their contract; so a third reason for writing under different names is to be able to shop your work around to a new publishing house.

The last reason, is the one that appeals to me: pseudo-anonymity. That is, that there are some pieces that I’ve written, or that I’d like to write, that:

  1. may not conform to the position that I have to take professionally as an academic, or
  2. that might have an impact on other people, due to their known association or relationship with me.

So for this reason, and to differentiate my writing from my academic published work, I have decided to use a pseudonym.

However, I now have to create a new identity which brings with it several questions that I have to answer:

  1. Should my pseudonym be male, female or gender neutral?
  2. How do I make it memorable, and easy to spell, so that people who want to follow my work don’t forget it, or have difficulty finding it?
  3. How do I come up with a name that is unique so that I can obtain a domain (URL) in the name, either now or in the future?

Like most people faced with these kind of challenges I turned to Google and not surprisingly found that there are a number of pseudonym name generators on the internet.

So let’s see what they suggested:

Pen Name Generator: Lilly Tagloff

Pseudonym Generator: Kayleigh Riley

Not doing much for me so far.

The next one that I tried asked for more information about my life in general and consequently suggested a number of different options in a variety of categories. Examples being: Molly Tamsin, Nick T Dog, Molly Tatiana, Nik Shawbot, Tamsin O’Talulah or Timothy Shawers.

I have to admit that so far, none of these appeal.

So next I tried looking at different languages with a random name generator. That provided even more bizarre suggestions – Tarik Milen or Bohdan Paulie as examples.

So I took a different approach – baby names? Meanings of names?

Now I have too many choices.

Of these two stood out so far:

Willow Michaels.

Willow Thomas…..

Hmmm…

I think that I need to sleep on it.

Suggestions welcomed!

2 thoughts on “Creating a new identity: A writer is ‘almost’ born…”

  1. You know I’m now going to have to try the name generators to see what name I would get! What about the old “porn name generator” of street you lived on when you were 10 + first pet’s name? I get a VERY odd but VERY English name if I do that! X

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