What’s in a name?

Your Name

You never appreciate your anonymity until you don’t have it anymore.
– Jason Priestley

Hello, my name is not Aila Stephens. Not really, anyway. Let’s call Aila my alter ego. My second self. My spiritual doppelganger, if you will.

When I lost my mind decided to pursue writing I knew immediately I would require a pseudonym. The first few people I let in on the secret pretty much all had the same response:

“So, what, you’re trying to write the next Fifty Shades or something?”

Who doesn’t just adore the opinions of others? The response I have for this question is very different in my head than what I actually give, which is just a pleasant, “No, that isn’t exactly what I’m going for.” I know everyone ranging from the casual reader to the esteemed novelist has their opinions on those books, and I will admit I read all of them, but I am not in any way interested in writing erotica. But, my using a pen name shouldn’t be an automatic implication my characters do nothing but rut around in the sheets. [Say hello to Mark Twain, J.K. Rowling, Lewis Carroll…]

Which led them to their next question: “Why don’t you just use your own name?”

Not that I need to justify why I choose to use a nom de plume, but here are my top three reasons for doing so:

1.) It allows me not to shy away from stories my family wouldn’t approve of. This may not be a big deal to some, but it is to me. I don’t want my qualms about upsetting them deter me from writing the words I want to write.

2.) I don’t like my real name. Not for writing, anyway. It’s a perfectly fine name, but it doesn’t really feel very writer-y to me.

3.) I love my day job and I’m pragmatic enough to know writing isn’t going to replace my salary, so I’d like to keep it. I have no desire to introduce my 9-5 to my writing. A pen name feels like a good buffer.

The final question posed to me about choosing to write anonymously:

“So are you ashamed of what you’re writing? You said you don’t want your folks to know…” This question is usually accompanied by another reference to Fifty Shades… *eye roll*

No, I am not ashamed of what I’m writing. If I were, not only would I not share it with the world, I simply would not write it.

What do you write/publish under? What are some of the most ridiculous, aggravating questions/comments your family and friends have said since you told them about your insanity desire to write? If you write with a pen name, how did you choose yours? I went through about four before I finally settled.



2 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. Books Giving Hope says:

    I’m only in the first quarter of my first book so I haven’t thought of what name I will use. I have thought of using a pseudonym for almost the same reasons except that I don’t work. I just ignore the negative nellies and honestly I really don’t tell anyone that I’m even writing!


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