What’s in a Name?

Many writers use pen names. Sometimes they started writing in a different genre from the one they’d started in. Maybe they’re disguising their gender (especially in genres like romance). It could be something as simple as not liking the name they were born into or the name they took on marriage. In the age of internet, it’s something that has even more consequences.

I started writing with a pseudonym of sorts. Everything connects to who I am, and I’ve been consistent, but I started at a very young age and I wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t affect looking for a job or getting into college (I was also a precocious child). The thing is: I don’t know if I want to keep writing under a pseudonym, not when I (hopefully) get published.

Many cultures hold strong beliefs about names, but Hawaiians believe that a given name is what a child becomes as an adult. In fact, Hawaiians traditionally didn’t give names until the child’s first birthday (which is one reason first birthday parties are such a big deal here), and a lot of thought and meditation goes into it. An equal amount of thought would have to go into choosing a pen name for me to feel comfortable with it.

This name does have certain connotations for me. I like it, even, but it’s not the name I inherited from my father or the name my parents gave me. I’m mixed-race, as well, and I wonder if I should try to pull in more of my heritage in a pen name (Spanish isn’t too unusual for readers, but Hawaiian might raise eyebrows).

 

Then there’s my fandom dealings. The reason I have a pen name to begin with is that I was heavily involved in the Potter fandom. I’ve even written fanfiction and essays, and I’m currently blogging about my newest re-reads. That’s another reason why I’m not sure if I should write original fiction under my fandom name, or if I should branch out. I have what may be a surprisingly large following for my fanworks.

It’s all very confusing. This isn’t even something I really have to think about until I get an agent or a publishing deal, to be honest, but it does bother me.

Right… so, I’m worrying about something I really don’t have to worry about now (I have a tendency to do that). Do any of you write under a pseudonym? Do you think it’s worth the trouble?

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2 comments on “What’s in a Name?

  1. I use a pen name simply to disguise my real name from the public eye. Even now, the user name I’m using is the name of one of my earlier fanfiction characters.

    • b.h.quinn says:

      That’s the main reason I started using one. (I was applying for private high schools at the time, and I had enough foresight to think of colleges, too.) Thanks for the comment!

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