A.K. Cates got it right! or “Why Use a Pseudonym?”


As you all know, I’ve had a heck of a time with the latest brand of ‘flu-bug. I’ll go online on my phone to check my two primary social media accounts, Facebook and Twitter, but when it comes to The Old Fossil Writes, I much prefer being on my laptop. Having awakened at 2:30 this morning for no apparent reason is precisely how I wound up here…and how, thanks to my WP notifications, I came across A.K. Cates’ blog!

I do love visiting others’ sites and reading about all the diverse subjects available, but my obvious favourites are the websites and blogs administered by fellow writers and authors whom I admire. I love these sites because, from ‘newbie’ to established, I’m always reminded of different ideas and thoughts about the process of writing that have either slipped my mind, or that I have never considered before. A.K. Cates posts on the question of using pseudonyms, or “pen names” are a prime example.

The name under which I write is a…ermm…”pseudo” pseudonym. That is to say, it’s my name, but only a part of it. The reasoning behind my use of a pen name is quite simple: have you ever read the titles of some of the theses, articles or scientific studies out there?  For instance, one of the articles I checked out as research was “Neurocognitive development in socioeconomic context: Multiple mechanisms and implications for measuring socioeconomic status” (Ursache, A. Noble, K.G., 2016 Psychophysiology).

If I’d written and published this as a book, there would be no room to add my name! 😀

Let me leave you with this anecdote:

I’ve been married…well…more than once. When I’ve married, I’ve always retained my maiden name. When I have divorced, I retained the name(s) of my ex-husband(s), as there have been children born to the marriages(s). I made sure that my Social Security records reflected each change.

By the time I moved to Connecticut about a hundred years ago, my driver’s license had expired several years previous (I had no vehicle…why maintain a license? yeah…bad reasoning) and I had to get a new one. At that time in history, you only needed your birth certificate and social security card to do so; simple explanations for the name differences between birth and ‘now’ sufficed…usually. In my case, I imagine they’re still shaking their heads in disbelief.

You see, one’s full legal name must be imprinted on a driver license. My name included 6…yes, count ’em…S-I-X…names.

The DMV clerk just looked at me. “You know, you only need your legal name. You don’t have to have your maiden and…more than one married name.”

“They’re all included in my legal name, though.”

She looked at me with a bit of a squint. Her eyelid was beginning to twitch…as were her nostrils.

“No, you misunderstand. Your legal name consists of first, middle and legal last name. That’s only three. Not…” (she consulted the information sheet), “…six.”

It’s a good thing I expected this (having gone through it a number of times with my children’s schools); as such, I came prepared.

“I know this is difficult to understand, but this is my “legal last name”…see all of these hyphens? That means they all belong together. If a British person with the last name of Hamilton-Smythe came in for a license, would you presume to tell him that he had to chose either Hamilton or Smythe as his last name? No.”

The DMV clerk was not amused. Nor happy, as the tautened lips, narrowed eyes and flared nostrils would attest. Oh, and the security guard she had called over was also an indication of her…shall we say…”ire”.

I heaved a sigh and, glad that I had heeded the judge from my last divorce who had suggested I keep copies of his ruling on hand, “…just in case…anything!”, I pulled out a sheaf of papers.

“In the interest of the children born to the plaintiff and her current and previous spouse(s), she shall retain all previous versions of her name.”

Several long distance calls (including one to the Social Security Administration) and harried consultations with various supervisors and administrative personnel later, the clerk finally whined,

But we can’t fit all of that on a little drivers license!

At which point I pulled out my Social Security card…the one with all six names printed (albeit on two lines) and, comparing it, size-wise, to my old North Carolina license and said, “I promise you, it will fit.”

“Folded Dreams – The Beginning”. Four words.

My full name, with title. Seven words.

Pseudonym, please!

(Thanks to A.K. Cates for that great post!! 😀 )

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