Real name or pen name?


The problem with writing under your original name is that you are baring your soul and yet trying to mask the truth. So many drafts disappear behind me because they shout about my emotions, the otherwise hidden emotions that rest deep within me, untouched and unknown. Yet I want to give them a voice. At least not brutally murder those many emotions with silence. What’s the use? Why waste them when they can be knitted to resonate with someone and help them somehow. If you have a gift, why waste it?

But there will be stories, desperate ones, that I would want to tell but not put my name under them. A reader will judge. He will try to see through the story and not only relate his own life with it but also mine. Quite obvious. We are human after all, bent on the fact that every story, every tale a person litters on the paper has got something to do with them. And it’s the truth. Only except in the cases where stories crop out of pure imagination. But then, even imagination is a reflection of the person.

It’s hard to betray a reader’s expectations and it is the primary goal of any writer who wants to experiment and learn.

While my idea of using a pen name stems from the fact that I would not want to reveal my real self, the history of pen names tells us an entirely different story. If we trace the timeline of pen names, we see various reasons behind people hiding their actual names. We all know how Joanne Rowling became J.K. Rowling so the book reaches out to the young male readers because they wouldn’t really be excited to read a story that Joanne Rowling wrote. They will be fine with J.K. Rowling (because it is not feminine). And when asked about it, she simply said that she wanted the book published. Quite obvious. A writer wouldn’t want his story to not become a tale just because of one stupid thing, our name. And in any case, what lies in a name? A rose would smell as sweet if it was called by any other name.

Lewis Carroll, the writer of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, came up with the alias by Latinizing Charles Lutwidge into Carolus Ludovicus, loosely Anglicizing that into Carroll Lewis and then changing their order. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (his real name) wanted to maintain the privacy of his personal life, so he adopted a pen name.

Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto chose the pen name Pablo Neruda (later adopting it as his legal name) because his father didn’t approve of his interest in literature.

Stanley Martin Lieber started off with comic books and wanted to save his real name for some serious literary work and hence used the name Stan Lee which later he adopted as his legal name.

George Orwell chose this pen name to save his family from the embarrassment when he was getting his first book published. His real name was Eric Arthur Blair.

With the changing times, pen names exist mostly to reach out to the target audience. A few days ago I read some random article that said the publisher wanted the writer’s name to sound more British. A name like myself is yet another story, I wonder if I ever get published, what will they ask me to change my name to. I might myself want to write under some pen name. But there is time. And until then at least, I am very happy to use my own name.

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