What’s in a name?

For this aspiring scribe, it’s a link to some of her ‘racy’ writing.

Time for a nom de plume? Our elder weighs in on adopting a new pen name.

Dear EWC:

I am a young woman who wants to be a writer someday. I am beyond college age but I can’t afford to go. I got desperate for money and I published explicit novels online using my real name (because since childhood I’ve wanted to be “famous” under that name), as well as wrote explicit fan-fiction (stories about TV shows that I write for fun) also using my real name. I have deleted all of it, but now I have a page on Amazon and Goodreads and some other sites that will be there forever. There are a lot of links available with my name and I am the only one who has that name. I fear that I will never be able to get a job, much less a decent writing job, with this information available online. To top it all off, my home phone number and address is up online and there is no way to take it down. I’ve thought about legally changing my name, but it wouldn’t feel right. This is the name I was born with and I am proud of it. If I ever did achieve my goals I don’t want it to be under a different name. What should I do?

Dave-Scott replies:

First off, if you want to be a writer, then you need to be a writer. If you have already had some success in getting published, then you definitely need to continue to write.
I’m not going to make light of your feelings that you made a mistake when you attached your name to a couple of racy novels, but have you read some of the mainstream publications being promoted by Barnes and Noble and other booksellers today? Many of them include pretty graphic descriptions of a whole lot of things that can make people blush, cringe, or lose their lunch. Sure you would like to have not had your name attached to some of your early writings that are now a little embarrassing, but I think it would be a whole lot worse to have it associated with an intellectual or scholarly work that is poorly written.

As a writer, everything you write will be criticized by some of your readers. You have to take it in stride and always move forward. What you wrote in the past has little to do with what you will write in the future. Write something that people want to read and I will guarantee that is exactly what they will do. What you did before is not going to have much impact on what you have just released.

If you think it will hinder the publication of your work in the future, then possibly you should consider using a pen name or pseudonym. Here’s a good article on how and why to use a different name:
If you are concerned with getting hired to be a writer, then I would just be honest about what you did and why. You want to work for someone who will let you be you and allow you to express yourself as an individual. If they prove themselves to be very provincial in their thinking about something you wrote years ago, would you really want to work for them? Writers should not be hired because they have a blemish-free past. They should be hired because they can write.
Writing is a hard job. The work requires not only a certain brilliance, but also persistence and courage.
Be true to yourself and you will always come out ahead. I wish you luck in your future endeavors.

Letter #: 408543
Category: Career

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *