Thursday, September 29, 2011

LAVINIA OR TRACEE?


I feel a new persona coming on.

I should have thought of it years ago. As a writer I've been this me for a long time. That is, the careful, responsible, married me. When I started writing, I did so without imagining x number of years ahead to the time when I might be a famous author with a dozen well-received works to my name, a name that echoed around the world. A name that bestowed gravitas. Or a name that went with the phrase "... the best-selling novelist". So it never occurred to me to use another name to write under that was not the same as the married one. A name that was my own and could do what I wanted with.

You need foresight to adopt a pen-name. You have to figure out well ahead of time that you might need one, because you don't want to start with one name and change it later, thereby throwing out the reputation and credibility that you've built up so far. This particularly applies to women if they are already married and using their new names when they start publishing, but can apply to anyone if, for example, they have a day job that requires them to be respectable and upstanding, and they want to write the kind of books that don't fit the corporate image. Such people, if they want to get down and dirty, will probably simply adopt a pen-name and get on with it.

The name I've been using all this time was shared. It belonged to us as a couple. It meant that whatever one of us did or said was ipso facto connected to us both. And that meant that we were each mindful of the fact that what we did or said could reflect on the other in some way. Not that this mattered. We were both, by and large, respectable and upstanding and I, as a writer, didn't make a total prat of myself as far as I know.

Sharing a name, and by association a reputation, can however act as a restraining influence. Risk-taking is not an option. Co-operation, consideration and consultation are the norm. As a writer I have generally confined myself to a well-worn path without even thinking about it. How sensible. How dull.

I have been thinking of changing direction though, literarily speaking. Or rather, I have been thinking of adding a new string to my bow. And the advent of ebooks has given so many writers, including me, the nudge to take a risk or two. So is it time to break out? Shall I become Lavinia Peabody or TraCee Comewotmay and kick up my heels a bit?

I think so.

Picture: cover of a book of short stories at Smashwords.com

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