Saturday, February 5, 2011


Last night, a writer friend of mine came over to visit.  Though we kept in touch at least once a month through phone calls or e-mails, the anticipation is never the same as would a visit in person.  She looked well, I thought.  Very well.  And I was glad.

We sat in the dining room, the wide picture window behind her,   and we started with how the family was,  kids,  and what not.   But as minutes ticked by, and as writers, we knew the inevitable question would come:  "How's writing?"  And it did.

"I've decided," I told her, "that I'm going to use a pen name."
"A pen name?"  With bewildered eyes, she looked at me and asked why. 

I think for a minute it threw my friend aback as to why I've made such a decision.  I told her that I am not ashamed of my real name, but there are so many things attach to it that I think won't make me free in my writing.  Has this ever happened to you when finally you felt brave enough to tell a family member about your passion, and all you got was either silence or a scoff?  I got both.  And the feeling was, least to say, not pleasant.

"But don't you want to show to these people, to wave in their faces--once you got your novel published--see I did it!" my friend protested.  "Because if it was me, it would be sort of a revenge."

I do understand my friend's point and I did air the sentiment to her.  But that is not what I am after.  What I am after is the  purpose of being a writer--the freedom to create.  Revenge may be good at first, but I feel it is short lived, and if it is short-lived, would I grow from it?  Would it stunt my growth?

For years now, I always wondered why Samuel Clemens changed his name to Mark Twain.   I never bothered to look into it until now--minutes before I was to write this post.  It said:  In Samuel Clemens' case, the call of "mark twain" projected a sense of comfort and safety and good things to anyone who had ever travelled the Mississippi River.  This is the image he wanted to call up.

To undress myself of my real name was a decision not to hide in a corner, or be ashamed, or be embarrassed.  A.K.A (also known as)  meant for me the freedom to write; and like Mark Twain to call up that sense of comfort.


  1. This is absolutely a very good post! I've posted the same topic on my blog and raised a question. I still have not made up my mind whether to use a pen name or not :(

  2. Samuel used a lot of pen names prior to using Mark Twain actually. He was a rascal, and not everything he wrote in his newspaper articles were all the way true.

    You must write and act according to your instincts.

    I write under my own name. As a former counselor, I saw so much grief in the lives of others from people standing back and apart from others, from their words.

    I want to stand by my word, saying, "This is what I believe to be true and good. And the first step for me is not to wear a mask to my readers. If I get prolific and chained to a genre by editors, then a pen name would shatter that chain and let me write in other genres. Stephen King did that, as did Koontz, until their fame was such that they could write whatever genre they pleased with their true name and the editors wouldn't squawk.

    You have a thought-provoking post. Thanks, Roland

  3. If you feel writing under a pen name affords you more freedom then go for it. In the end it boils down to what we as individuals are most comfortable with.

    Popped over her from Len's blog. Nice to meet you! And welcome to the the land of blogging.

  4. @Len--thank you for the nice praise, my friend. As I've said before, the right answer will come and you'll definitely be at peace about it.

    @Roland--thank you so much for your comment and also for adding me. Indeed, Samuel Clemens used a lot of pen names before settling on Mark Twain. Your powerful comment almost pulled me to the other side :). Very persuasive. Thank God my mental brakes are still in good order and not worn out. In the end I am very happy and at peace of my decision. Will drop by soon.

  5. Hi Ann! Very thrilled to meet you. Thank you for welcoming me here in the land of blogging :). I am touched by your supportive comment. Will visit you soon.