Something tells me I’m hardly the first writer to head up a blog post with that title. But hey at least I resisted the urge to use a rose as a pic….And trust me it wasn’t easy coming up with an alternative; I nearly bowed to the cliche but I digress. Yes I know, I do that a lot.
What was I talking about? Oh yes – names. I like to think of myself as being fairly smart; my family suggests that in fact this is a delusion and that I bear more than a passing resemblance to Dory from Disney’s Finding Nemo, but what would they know? I’m not even blue and I don’t sound anything like Ellen DeGeneres. Hmm? Oh right – names.
Oh zat ees not a very common name, hein?
I’m one of those rare people who actually like their name. I don’t know whether I fell in love with France and things French because of my name or if would have happened anyway, but my slightly unusual name in all its forms has never bothered me. Although when I first moved to Paris I did assume I would for the first time ever have an ordinary, garden variety name. HA! People still commented on it everywhere I went – they simply did it French. Go figure.
A name for everything…
So when I started writing, I wasn’t especially interested in pseudonyms. My name would be just fine thank you very much. Right up until I hit a whole other bunch of names – the names of genres. Romance. Horror. Erotica. Sci-fi. Chick Lit. If you think about it each of those labels or names carries with it a resonance and image of what it represents – just the same way our own name does.
Of course what often happens is if a writer begins writing to one of those genres, they become pigeon holed to that genre. Now, there is nothing wrong with that at all. If your passion is romance or sci-fi or chick lit or whatever, then get out there and write, baby, write.
What about me?
What happens though if, like yours truly, you tend to be a little hyperactive (okay maybe a lot) and you don’t know what genre you’re passionate about because you just love words and writing? Then what?
I’ll tell you what – you end up in the middle of a metaphorical snarled fishing line of massive proportions. It is scary how many story ideas I have sitting in folders in Dropbox that have stalled because I’ve woken up one morning either dying to try a different genre or I’ve been paralysed by the fear of actually writing something good, selling it, and never being able to write in a different genre again. Yes there are massive holes in this theory – not the least being that I’m assuming I’ll write something that will be picked up and published – but fear does not care about holes in theory. Fear is just fear.
After struggling with this for several years now, two days ago I found the solution. I realised two things in that moment – the first was that the next year is going to be incredibly busy and the second was that maybe my family is right and I’m more like Dory than I thought.
The solution is pseudonyms. You see, I’m one of those people who takes on the identity of the genre they’re writing in. If I’m writing romance, I tend to become floral and romantic. If I’m working on my post-apocalypse piece I get very Sarah Connor – ish. If I’m writing erotica – well, anyway you get the idea. All I need to do is give those identities a name.
Meet the family
So I did. Lily writes romance, Georgia writes erotica, and I write general fiction and YA. And believe it or not – though by now I’m picking you’ll believe it – I have found myself dressing to the identity. Jeans and tee for me, soft pastel, feminine flowy skirt for Lily, leather and lace for Georgia.
The kids just shrugged – they’re used to their mother being weird. The Man of The House is starting to realise there could be definite advantages to this set up. The cats are not impressed. As for me, I’m just looking at the names (and their personas) as another set of tools in my writing kit. It’s all just a case of finding the right one (tool/name) for the job.
By the way…
In case you’re wondering why I chose jellyfish….it’s because although we call them jelly fish their real name is Scyphozoa. If you’re Dory, of course it’s Squishy (I shall call you Squishy and you shall be mine). What’s more, you would be amazed at how many sites exist dedicated to jelly fish – who knew? I got the pic from a funky site called Jellyfish Facts which while cool, has a vaguely disturbing tab labelled Pet Jellyfish……