Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Writing Wednesdays - On Writing and Pseudonyms

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that one of the things I'm passionate about is writing. As a kid I used to want to be an author. I'd dream up stories, usually historical fiction, and create these visions in my mind of what my characters could be. Years of writing in middle school and high school destroyed that dream. Grammar and the mechanics of writing confounded me. My papers would be marked up, but I'd have no idea what I did wrong and no idea how to become better. I told myself that I was a reader, not a writer, and moved on.

In November of 2011 I began this blog. Other than writing papers for school, the last time I had written for enjoyment would be back before my middle school days, around 1986. It had been awhile. I was terrified of putting my writing out there, but I knew that to become a better writing teacher, I needed to do what I was asking my students to do. Gradually, it got easier. People actually read my blog, I was shocked to find out, and would send me words of support on a regular basis. I began to gain some confidence.

Writing here led me to wanting to write more. Brenda Power runs an amazing educational website called Choice Literacy. I'm proud to write for her. That led me to wanting to write a professional book for teachers. Trying to do so, however, led me back to that old feeling of failure as a writer. Other than writing short pieces that went in the books of other educators, trying to find my own voice for a professional book never happened. I gave up.

In April of 2018 my friend Cindy challenged me to try and write a romance book like the ones she and I read and discussed regularly. I began writing a story of two characters, Max and Emma, who were friends growing up in a small town much like mine. They've returned to their hometown and their relationship begins to change. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it.

Now I'm 95,000 words in. I'm closing in on the ending, then I'll begin revising. One thing I've discovered is I love hearing about the writing process of others. Whether they're teachers like me who have found a passion for writing or they're published authors, I love asking people about their writing lives. This led me to an idea - once or twice a month in 2019, you will see an interview here with a friend, colleague, or author on their writing life. The first will run next Wednesday. One of my favorite romance authors, Kate Canterbary, was kind enough to answer all of my questions on her life as a writer. I'll review her latest book early next week so you can learn a bit about her before I run her post on the 9th.

For the other Wednesdays of the month I'll share what I'm thinking about as a writer or something my students and I are writing. One topic I'm thinking about a lot right now is the use of pseudonyms as a writer. A lot of romance authors use them, but they confuse me. I know some folks write under a pseudonym for anonymity. However, plenty of romance authors are out there, using a pseudonym, but also their actual photo with it. What is the purpose of the pseudonym? Is it just to get a name that sounds more like a romance writer? To have some separation between their daily life and their writing life? I can't figure it out. That being said, I will likely use one, I'd rather my middle school students didn't simply go to Amazon, type in my name, and download my book. On the other hand, I'm also proud of what I've written. Maybe I'll end up with a pseudonym, yet using my own picture as well.

Obviously, I'm conflicted.

What are your thoughts on pseudonyms? If you want to think more about it, here are two great podcasts I've listened to recently on the topic. If you have any resources to share with me, please do! 

SPA Girls Podcast Episode 120: Should You Use a Pen Name? 

So You Wanna Write a Romance: Pen Names: When & Why to Use One + 4 Tips On How To Pick The Perfect One For YOU

Next Writing Wednesday --> January 9th - Kate Caterbary