Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nom De Plume

                Many authors throughout history have chosen to write under a pen name or nom de plume.  Sometimes it takes the form of initials, like H.G. Wells or J.K. Rowling.  Sometimes it’s a part of their name being used as a full name, like Dr. Seuss whose given name was Theodore Seuss Geisel.  Sometimes it’s a wholely unrelated name, like Mark Twain or Lewis Carroll, whose given names were Samuel Clements and Charles Lutwidge Dodgson respectively.  Stephenie Meyer wrote once that she had considered the pen name of Morgan Meyer.  Anne Rice (given name Howard Allen Frances O’Brien) has written as Anne Rice, Anne Rampling, and A.N. Roquelaure.  Lillith Saintcrow uses her given name but changes it slightly when she writes her YA series Strange Angels to Lilli St. Crow.  Nora Roberts (given name Eleanor Marie Robertson) has famously written as J.D. Robb but also as Jill March and Sarah Hardesty. 
                I could go on and on and on but let’s stop here.  All of these famous authors have used names other than their given name, and they have all had good reasons for doing so.  Some were stepping outside their established genres, some were changing audience ages, and some were simply tired of their names.  Many writers choose to use a nom de plume to keep their personal life and professional life separate. 
                I choose to blog and write (and eventually publish, positive outcomes only) under Jeanni Grace.  I’ve used Jeanni Grace for several years.  I chose it because it fits me.  My personality is a Jeanni, not a Jean.  Grace is, to me, a feminine last name that represents me well.  It’s also a family name and my given middle name.  I don’t want my given name attached to my writing because I want to preserve a small amount of anonymity especially as I get older, go into the professional world, and have a family.  I don’t want potential future employers or grad school boards searching my given name, finding that I’m a writer, and questioning my commitment to my job or grad school studies. 
                Writing is very personal and it’s a very lonely vocation.  It involves being raw and pouring yourself into the stories you write.  It involves baring your soul to everyone who reads your work.  Sometimes it’s better to have a small buffer between your writing self and your professional self.  For most writers writing is a passion, something we can never completely stop doing.  But it doesn’t pay the rent, it doesn’t pay the medical bills, it doesn’t support us fully.  I write because I can’t not write.  Even if I don’t put everything I write down on paper, every story I tell myself on the metro or in a museum, even if I do put it down and nothing comes of it, I can never stop writing.  It’s who I am.  But it’s not my job, it’s not my whole life.  I do intend to have a job, a profession.  I want to dig archaeology sites and write long papers about Viking bones.  I want to work in a lab with ancient bones and eventually I want to teach at a university.  Along the whole way I will be writing.
                Do any of you write under assumed names?  Why?  Do you prefer assumed name, pseudonym, pen name, or nom de plume?  (I prefer nom de plume).  I’d love to hear from you.  

Further Reading On The Subject:
Rachelle Gardner:

Nathan Bransford:

Word Server Water Cooler:

Stay Tuned.

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