Alex J. Cavanaugh. The idea is to provide authors with an avenue to share their doubts and concerns, and to offer one another encouragement and guidance. Every first Wednesday of the month we gather to connect with one another and share our insecurities.
My insecurity this month is entirely a vanity issue, but it does have far-reaching implications . . . and they are what, all too often, distract me from actually writing. It's all about names - real names, nicknames, and pen-names.
Under which name do I submit my manuscript?
To what name do I want to assign a legacy . . . be it good or bad?
Does the comfort of anonymity outweigh the pride of recognition?
Is it better to be freed from my inhibitions, or restrained within my better judgement?
Like I said, it's completely a vanity issue, but the implications and repercussions are forever. Part of me wants to publish under my real name and let friends, colleagues, family members do a double-take when they see the name on the shelves. I want them to wonder if it's really me, to buy it just in case it is, and then to reach out and let me know what they think. I want that recognition, that validation, and that acclaim.
On the other hand, part of me worries about what people might think. I wonder if they're going to read too much into the story or the characters and make assumptions about me. I don't want to have to face the awkward questions about why I wrote a character a certain way, why I adopted a certain theme . . . or just what the hell I was thinking when I wrote that!
For me, writing is an exercise in imagination, a complete and utter break from reality where I can tell whatever story I want, about whatever characters I want. I've written protagonists I would never want to meet in real life, and I've written villains that I take a guilty pleasure in admiring. I've written relationships that have completely shocked me, and I've written scenes that please me every time I reread them.
Yet, whenever I start thinking of the name issue, I find myself either becoming uncomfortably restrained, afraid to express what the story needs, or gleefully crossing all lines of good taste and propriety, simply because I can.
I keep telling myself to just finish the damn manuscript and think names later, but that little nagging doubt, that unanswerable question, seems to raise its head at the worst possible moments. One day I'm sure I'll get past it, make a decision, and then laugh at myself for every being so insecure . . . at least, I hope so. :)