Wednesday, 27 February 2013

What's In A Name?

This is something I’ve been discussing with a couple of friends recently.  I, like some of my friends, don’t use my real name online.  It’s not just to avoid the possibility of friends, family and scary stalkers finding what I write, it’s also that as I write fiction it’s not a particularly good idea to have a name easily confusable with someone else’s.

I, unfortunately, am not blessed in that department.  In the early days of the internet, searching for my name brought up just me and a memorial garden in the US (was it an omen?).  These days?  It’s swimming in people with the same name, hyphenated or not, including a couple of authors.  For everyone’s sanity--including the authors who undoubtedly don’t want their work confused with mine!--pseudonyms seem to be the way to go.

But when it comes to choosing a pseudonym, how do you approach it?  Do you go for something sensible and plausible as one friend has?  Or do you go for something pretty but completely out of left-field, as some romance/erotica writers do?  Is memorable the best way to go, even if it might be a nightmare to spell?

I’m weighing up two options myself.  Do I stick with the plain and frankly impossible-to-Google (try it) “Regret Nothing” that I’ve been using for the last few years?  Or do I go for the pretty-but-unlikely name I was using in a different field, “Pax Asteriae” (again, try it).  If you trusted me not to lead you into porn-site hell, then you’ll have noticed two very different results: one brings up pages and pages of random sites, whether you wrote the name in quotes or not; the other will bring up only two very specific pages, both mine. The consensus has, so far, been to be the one that stands out.

This isn’t as big a deal as I’m making out.  I’m not a published author.  I don’t think I’ll ever even attempt it (I write, semi-prolifically, for enjoyment and nothing else) but at the same time, a name is a big part of you, even if it’s not the name you’re called by in everyday life.  If anything, this makes it more important--it’s not the name you were given, it’s the name you chose.

Maybe it’s time to make the change, and finally choose to no longer hide.

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