01 October, 2015

What's in a Name?

I use a pen name and I write romance novels.

And, I use a pen name BECAUSE I write romance novels.


However, this doesn't mean that I'm embarrassed about my chosen craft.

Were I to be embarrassed, it would soon become tedious and even sooner that it would lose its luster (with me). I would find myself gravitating toward another genre simply because I couldn't handle the amount of stress incurred by writing what I deem embarrassing.

I chose a pen name for several reasons, and one is because of the genre I write in, but is meant to save my immediate family -- not me -- from bearing the brunt of the stigma attached to romance novels.

An act of kindness on my part, I think.

I am no longer involved in the church or with its parishioners, but my children are, and the people there are a nosy bunch who can't help but ask how I am, what am I doing now, and exactly how far gone am I that my soul is irrevocably damned to hell.

My daughter tends to be honest and direct -- sometimes too honest and direct -- and it just so happened that the biggest gossip and Church Lady there asked what I was doing with my life, to which my daughter replied, "She is a published author now."

When she told me this, I panicked. "Dear-heart," I said, "The response had to be "'Oh? And, what does she write?'"

She looked at me with that matter-of-fact gaze and said, "I told her you write romance novels! What?"

As I shrank in my writing chair, she became upset and told me that she isn't the least bit ashamed of the fact and rather proud of me for being a published author of anything at all.

"Yes, dear," I replied; managed a smile and gave her a hug. "But, you confided in the wrong woman, and it's MY secret, which is why I chose to write under an assumed name; to avoid this kind of thing."

Well, as expected of that little slip of the tongue, on the following Sunday, my son came over after mass and looked at me funny before telling me that the parish priest had said something kind of strange before his sermon.

"Oh?" I asked, quirking a curious brow while starting to break into a cold sweat.

"Yeah," he said and took on a shy, pained smile expression, "He told us that reading romance novels was a bad idea because they are filthy and give women the wrong ideas about love and family life."

Now, I don't need to be a genius to figure out the scenario that led to the priest's being compelled to make that public service announcement.

And, it is precisely why I attempted to avoid having people "I" know discover that I write romance novels.

If there was any good that came of that awful instance, it would be that my daughter learned a valuable lesson about people and about being too honest or offering too much information.

Now that the gig is up, though, it seems a bit pointless for me to continue to 'hide' behind a nom de plume.

On a personal level, I am not ashamed of what I do and hope to continue writing romance novels for as long as I am able.

On a public level, I wish to continue to shelter my loved ones from that type of shaming.

Another reason why I chose a pen name has to do with the simple fact that I never liked my real name, and my last name isn't my real last name anyhow.

My real last name and it's Lithuanian spelling were lost after my father arrived here with his parents at the age of three.

I can still recall seeing it on his birth certificate, but that was decades ago and I am at a loss now as to how it was originally spelled.

There was a j in there somewhere, and I think it ended in 'weicz', but I can't be certain.

It would never have felt right to go with my 'married' name since I've been divorced for more than fifteen years and didn't want that part of my failed past to be in association with my career choice.

The people I know now don't know my maiden name, and those from decades ago aren't aware of my married name thanks to my public Facebook page.

So, my devised pen name is simply the tail end of my first name, and a combo spelling of my maiden and married last names. Not that far off the mark and yet unfamiliar enough to those who know me for it to be a 'safe', as it were.

Not liking your name is reason enough, I think, to want to go public under a pseudonym.

Not wanting some people to know my personal business is another reason for the pen name.

Wanting the whole aspect of this endeavor to be entirely unique is still another.

But, being ashamed of writing romance novels isn't a reason at all for why I use a pen name.

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

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