Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What's In A Name?

It is nothing new for a writer to choose to publish a book under another name or a pseudonym. I guess the first one most children learn about is Mark Twain, with his given name being Samuel Clemens. As a kid, I remember being told that Mark Twain was not his ‘real name’ and was told that it served as his ‘pen name.’ I never learned the actual meaning of his chosen name was Mark (measure) Twain (two) meant two fathoms deep. I just thought he didn’t want people to know that he wrote Tom Sawyer.

In my own case, when thinking about writing my personal story in Leave Him? I, at first, thought it would be nice to hide behind some other name of my choosing. That way no one would connect me with the story I would tell. I could call myself something like Daisy Diary, implying my most personal thoughts would be conveyed with a floral flair, but I knew that I could not go that far. I had to claim my story. Anything less would be cowardice.

During the time of writing my book, I was planning to own it completely with my current name printed on the cover. It was only at the time of publishing that I decided on a compromise. By using my name from before, Denise Reid, I could own my story and maintain a little bit of distance at the same time —a compromise of sorts.

There were several reasons for this need for a bit of space. One reason, and perhaps the most important, was the need to keep the educator, Denise Johnson, and the writer, Denise Reid separate. Another reason was that I could decide if I wanted the association with my writing, it wouldn’t be automatic.

I knew that my choosing my old married name of Denise Reid might seem weird to my husband, so we talked about the advantages and disadvantages. If Dave had voiced a concern, I would not have chosen a pseudonym. He understood and supported my decision completely.

Using that name does not mean I am wanting to go back in any form. The past needs to be explored to be made sense of and what better way to do that than through memoir. BUT the past is not meant to be wallowed in. We have all heard of people who get so stuck looking back that they cannot go forward. What a waste of the precious moments we have left.

Denise Reid may not have some hidden meaning like two fathoms, but I think it sounds a little more credible than Daisy Diary, don’t you?

If you haven’t done so, check out my book Leave Him? available on Amazon. 

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