The Great Pseudonym Conundrum

Nom de Plume by Carmela Ciurau (want to read)
I've always fantasized about being able to make writing novels my career- I'd quit my day job eventually and then travel the country on book tours while wearing the extensive Anthropologie wardrobe I'd then be able to afford. I'd be invited to sit on panels at book festivals, asked to contribute articles to smart magazines, and eventually some small, local liberal arts college would take me on as a part-time English professor (hear that, Claremont McKenna?).

In the midst of these silly, far-fetched day dreams is always the question of whether or not I'd publish under my real name or a pseudonym. Such the pretend conundrum! My first instinct is to always keep it honest. If the novel is a success you'd want everyone to know it was you who were responsible for such literary genius. Take that ex-boyfriend! Suck it, snotty super-smart girl from high school! Revel in my awesomeness, world! And, I have to say (with absolutely no experience whatsoever to base this on) that it's important to own up to your failures too. If the book is bashed you have to accept the criticism, not hide behind the safety of a name that isn't yours. 

But, on the other hand, pseudonyms offer vital protection in terms of your personal and professional lives. Not that authors generally acquire celebrity status, but what if the checker at Target is an avid reader and wants to chat about [insert novel title here] while you're trying to buy your underwear and toilet bowl cleaner? Plus, as a teacher I'm not sure whether my district, or union, would appreciate the content of the novel I'm currently working on. Plus, what would the students and their parents think? I realistically would have to keep the day job for awhile, so yes, their opinion on having a snarky, controversial author around their kids each day would matter.

Another important question- what would the pseudonym be? Is there a formula like there is for stripper names (first pet name + street where you grew up; I'd be Raven Countryside Lane, for those wondering)? How awkward would it be to be called something else? I'm very attached to my name, refusing to change it when I got married, so for me this is a tad unsettling. 

Obviously, this isn't an issue. And if I don't get back to my NaNoWriMo project it never will be. Check out the chart on the right bar to see my progress (or lack there of). And I promise I'm not delusional- I know that not only are my chances of finishing a full-blown novel slim, but my odds of publishing are next to nothing. 

And I'm okay with that.

1 comment:

  1. I've thought about this many times myself! I've decided I'd go with initials + last name a la J.R.R. Tolkien or J. K. Rowling.*