Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why I use a pen name

I feel like I'm here--and everywhere that I use this name, really--under false pretenses. Like I'm trying to put something over on someone.

I'm not. I'm still exactly the same person, with the same personality, sense of humor, talents, flaws, and dreams.

A pseudonym, a pen name, a nom de plume. Whatever you call it, it is a time-honored practice, and there are many reasons for using it.

Maybe you're super-famous, and you want a little privacy.
Maybe you're not famous at all, and you want a little privacy.
Maybe your real name, less than lovely.
Maybe you write in a specific genre, and you need a name to match.
Maybe you're in the Witness Protection Program.
Maybe you write in multiple genres, and you want a different persona for each.
Maybe you always wanted to be named Destiny, and this is your chance.

Me? I write non-fiction under my real name, and I don't want to confuse the issue. I waffled about it for a long time, but finally my first fiction book was finished, and I had to put a name on the cover. It was the moment of truth. What would it be?

Two things tipped the decision for me. First, I am sometimes frustrated with authors who keep changing genres. I never know what to expect from them, and this messes with my sense of order. I understand why they do this; they have built a reputation on their name, and to use a different one for each genre would mean to start from scratch each time. I get it.

I, however, haven't built a reputation at all. I have the luxury of making the decision now, while I'm starting out, and going from there. One name for nonfiction, one for fiction. At least for now.

Second, I am a fairly private person, and I have found a sense of freedom in using a pen name. I can explore what I want to write with a new sense of adventure. I like it.

So I might feel like a fraud, but I'm not. I'm still Jenna from the Block.