A few years ago, when I was a stay-at-home mom struggling with an identity crisis, I took a few (too many) assignments from an embarrassing client. (It wasn’t porn. I might be slightly less embarrassed if it were.) When I submitted the articles, I used my full name. As in, my full, complete name. No mistaking me for someone else. That’s me! The author!
Every time I am reminded of this client, I cringe. I’d gladly return whatever tiny sum they paid me to write these articles – and let them keep the articles – if they’d only remove my name from the byline. I want to go back in time to 2004 and tell Identity Crisis Me to use a variation of my full and legal name. Reserve my professional name for professional work that won’t make me cringe when I see it on the Internet in 2009.
Since that unfortunate era of publishing anything I was paid over $85 to write, I’ve tried to be more selective about what I associate my name with on the Internet. I try not to be the person who posts about every alcoholic binge on Facebook, and I only completed one of those over-sharing memes that have been circulating (who can resist the 25 Random Things?). More importantly, I chose not to scan the photos of Spring Break I found in my garage.
However, being selective can be stifling. Already I have a problem with writer’s block. The voice nagging me, “Would you want a future employer to read this?” is a major creativity squasher.
Enter the pseudonym. Last week, I enjoyed several evenings of merrily writing a mystery, under the names of two childhood pets. When I tried writing the story as myself, I hit wall after wall, deleted line after line. I finally adopted the pseudonym and I was free. I was a 10-year-old in my dad’s office, pecking out a story on his electric typewriter. Writing was fun again.