I've been toying with pen names for a few days now, since I've got some stuff to write that I probably shouldn't put my name to. (I love ending a sentence in a preposition; it's, like, rad.) I read a long time ago that a writer never really becomes free until his or her parents have passed away. I always took that to mean that as long as you had a parent susceptible to reading what you wrote, you might just hold back a little. Or a lot. Don't know if that's true, but we'll see. Thus the pen name. The beauty of a pen name is that it can be anything you want it to be...and it actually becomes fiction in itself. It seems that many writers like to use initials. Initials carry some gravity, if used properly. Like "J.K." or "W.R." or "Z.B." Well, maybe not "Z.B." I could use my own initials which I'm kind of partial to: "J.D." Then I could change my last name and write my guts out, my brain dry, and my hands numb. With supposedly no consequences.
Then you got the big boys who, for whatever reason, decided to publish on the sly. Stephen King wrote under Richard Bachman because he said that when he first started writing, publishers would only accept one book a year from an author. Poor guy..must have been tough to have been so prolific. George Eliot, of course, was a woman, who lived with a man, who was married. But that was okay at the time, kinda sorta, because George wasn't a man living with a married man, though today that might require a pen name also. And then there's Samuel Langhorne Clemens whose nom de plume (ah, worked a little French in there, didn't I?) was...yes... I know you know. I'm thinking that Mark Twain was better equipped to deal with all the second guessing and social angst that probably erupted after the publication of Huckleberry Finn than Sammy was. Say! There's an idea. Perhaps I can call myself John Thrice...that has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Or maybe J.D. Thrice.
Or I could just continue to use my own name and let the chips fall where they may. It's not like anyone who knows me is going to change their opinion (better or worse) significantly because of something I write. I mean, at this point, you either dislike me or hate me and my prose isn't going to change that. I will admit that my poetry might cause you to abhor me, and I think abhorring is a pretty heavy thing to do. However, you simply cannot knock me off my low horse with criticism. As far as those who don't know me, I get a fresh start. Sometimes it takes years for a person to reach a conclusion about someone. Sometimes it takes a paragraph.
I emailed a friend today that had a really cute comment about my "trashy ditch" post. (My wife is my biggest, and probably, only, fan, and she sends links to this blog and shames her friends into reading them.) Anyhow, I told this appropriately shamed friend that I was considering the pen name of Anonymous. But wouldn't you know, it had already been taken. Seems like this guy or gal has been writing forever and has put out some pretty good stuff. In fact it may be a whole family of writers given the time period the work covers.
Hope they're getting paid.