Breaking with Anonymity

Although I’ve been writing for a long time, only my academic or professional writing has gone out into the larger world.  My creative writing, with a couple of soul-scarring exceptions, has been shared only with a very small group of friends (thank you all!). Therefore, it is taking a nearly visible girding of the loins to leave the cave and proclaim myself a nascent author. I thought about using anonymity to make writing this blog easier, but I have been hiding for a very long time, and honestly am tired of it.

However, I’m not sure that I want my name to be on the title pages of my work. Certainly there are examples from myriad paths in the whole anonymity/nom de plume question. Actually, I have to admit that “Anonymous” on a title page makes me think of erotica, so I don’t think I can go that direction in its entirety. However, academic writers often use a nom de plume for their creative writing, to separate it from their professional writing; in many cases, such as Ralph McInerny’s Monica Quill, everyone knows the real name of the author. Many creative writers employ different names for different genres, so that their readers can easily find more works like the one that interested them. Finally, there is the centuries-long tradition of women writers hiding their sex by using male names or initialisms, so as to be taken more seriously.

Due to the amount of professional writing that I have to do in the near-term, I needn’t come to any conclusions about what name would go on my creative work. It is perhaps enough that I have come out into the light.

I’d be very interested in what you think, what choices you have made and why.

8 thoughts on “Breaking with Anonymity”

  1. I think about using a pseudonym because my last name begins with “W”–far from Agatha Christie and P.D. James and Ruth Rendell. But if–when–I have a book published, I would like my family name to be on the spine. I have time before I must make a decision.

    Welcome to the light.

    1. Thanks, Kathy! I’m adjusting to the light. I certainly understand your wanting to have your family name on the spine; there’s nothing quite like seeing one’s name in print!

      My conundrum is I have two audiences–those for the academic stuff and those for the fiction. I don’t want the fiction readers, especially, to have to scroll through the stuff they’re not interested in, or to get confused that maybe they have the wrong name. So I’m probably going to go the path of the well-known pen name, where it works more to collect the kinds of works rather than the secret kind.

  2. I can understand your conundrum.

    I have my novels, but I’m also a Messianic rabbi in training and am planning to write some theological works.

    On the one hand, I feel compelled to “just be me” and let the chips fall where they may.

    On the other hand, those interested in my Messianic theology writing may have issues with the same writer also spinning un-spiritual tales of paranormal suspense.

    It’s a conundrum. So I know why you’re struggling.

    1. Yes, I’d say you can definitely understand. I also have an audience that might have an issue with some of what I write. Hmm, medieval studies folks sifting through erotica . . . . It’s not even that I’m sure that I will write erotica, but I want the freedom to write whatever I want to, for whatever audience.

      I hear you on being you. It is a struggle. I’ll be interested to know which way you decide.

  3. I most definitely use a pen name. I want to keep my privacy. Also, as a Christian, I have many friends who would be shocked that I write paranormal romance. Some people just don’t get that it’s FICTION. LOL

    1. Thanks for sharing, Lauralynn. I’ve run into that problem as well. I wrote a story for a high school class that shocked the good sister who was my teacher so much she spoke to my parents about it. I guess she couldn’t believe I could make things up!

  4. I COMPLETELY understand this conundrum. I’ve gone back and forth on this for ages now. I do consider how my fiction works might impact my scholarly career/reputation, and so for the moment I’m not actually posting many samples or snippets of my work. I’m also saving anything really ‘scandalous’ for later on down the line, when perhaps I’ll adopt a pen name. I’m pretty much operating along rule of, “Would I be embarrassed if the chair of my department saw this?” If the answer is no, I’ll blog about it or write about it publicly, and if the answer is yes, it’ll stay under wraps for the moment.

    At the moment I’ve allowed both of my ‘lives’ to merge a bit. I have a really hard time keeping things separate, maybe because I want to be able to talk about all of me, not just part of me. I am both a writer and an academic, and I’ve finally started telling my colleagues about my fictional endeavors. Of course, things may change once I’m, say, in the market for a tenure-track job and trying to publish my scholarly work as well.

    Anyway, it’s a difficult dance, with a lot of variables to consider. Best of luck as you try to negotiate!

    1. It is a dance, Jamila. I’m in a tenure-track job, and my real name is out there already, so I’m at the push-comes-to-shove moment. I’m about 95% sure I’m going to use a pen name, although I have more non-fiction to come out under the real name, so I may change my mind. Thanks for the comments.

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