noun: pseudonym; plural noun: pseudonyms
a fictitious name, especially one used by an author
Most people I’ve met have one or two (or sometimes a handful!) of pseudonyms in their lives. Not only teenagers who might think their given names are not cool enough, published and professional authors often write under different names.
One might wonder why. After all, writing everything under a name will make an impression of a fruitful person, no? Why should one bother creating and maintaining another brand?
I can definitely speak for myself. I began writing under pseudonym around the time I felt brave enough to post my writings online, and interact with the community around it. It was a name taken from a default name I always used for any JRPG I played, back when naming character was a staple in the genre.
Pseudonym allows me to be free. One’s outer persona is usually limited by one or other reasons, and not all of us can have the luxury of being ourselves all the time. I can experiment with my writings as I like, trying genre and styles one might not expect from me in Real Life. There are things you never want your acquaintances to know you like (admit it, everyone has some). There are sides you’d rather hide from your professional circles. There might be circumstances you’re trying to avoid, like backlash for established authors trying the water of a new genre.
One could be a no-nonsense officer in the day while writing raunchy novels in the night. No, that’s not me, but you get the idea. Agatha Christie is linked closely with crime and murder. She also wrote romance novels under the name of Mary Wesmacott. I think if she ever wrote Sci-Fi, it wouldn’t be by Agatha Christie. The expectations have been set, leaving less room for trysts. With a pseudonym, when you no longer identifies with the image associated with the name, it can be abandoned and none would be the wiser.
It should be noted that I’m referring to a close-kept pseudonym. Nowadays, some people like to openly declare their pseudonyms, using the as their online handlers or mentioning them in their public pages. These people are proud of the dual life they are leading, I think. That they are not afraid for the different facets of their lives meshing into one.
Me? I’d rather run than knowing a real life acquaintance finds my pseudonym. One can attest how different I behave with that name. I believe my taste and preferences are best kept to myself. Besides, by openly declaring who I am, I’ll lost another reason I like the concept of pseudonym.
It gathers real, truthful opinions.
I post my writings to get feedbacks I can use to be a better writer. Even if I don’t get any, it feels nice to know someone actually read what I’ve written. In my experience, it’s ridiculously hard to find someone who take your request seriously in real life. Close friends and family most likely will either shower you with meaningless praises, expected courtesy, or not give a damn at all. A writer needs a critical reader. In this case we have to face the inevitable fact: people are more critical under the cloak of anonymity.
I started submitting my works to the local newspapers as well as maintaining an online account, and I saw the improvement almost immediately. The very same people who gave me frustratingly sweet nothings in the beginning happened to read these and told their honest comments to me, blind to the fact that the works they were speaking of were mine. The online account was flooded with critiques, ranging from comments on my illiterate English to an assortments of suggestions and advices. I couldn’t ask for better environment.
Life changes. Circumstances are different. It was tiring after a while, like I was running from my own shadow. I love what I’ve written and there was no regret ever creating this mask, but on the other hand, I would never admit writing those listed under that name. despite feeling like stamping ownership on them once in a while, showcasing them with pride. There are pieces I like very much, yet I can’t list them in my portfolio for obvious reason. Other times I know I won’t be doing it for at least a while longer, for only under that place I can keep writing with abandon, safe in the comfort of the unknowns. What sweet bliss.
As for now, I will continue to write with my pseudonym.