I got mad at Janelle once. Like, I was honestly upset! Why you ask? Her pieces on the other blog I run were getting way more traffic than anything else I had put up on the same damn blog! I was so upset. I thought for a while to just stop writing as Janelle.
There was good friend of mine that had to remind me that this person (1) doesn’t exist and (2) wasn’t the point of writing as Janelle to experiment? To grow and explore? Being mad at a portion of me, that I created purely for exploration–and people like it!—why am I upset?
I really had no answer.
The only answer that I had was I wanted more people to look at the work that I was doing. I wanted to be seen, versus Janelle just being seen. It was a weird, pseudojealousy. And once I identified it, I couldn’t unsee it. I couldn’t help but try to reconcile it! And that took a while. The process of that reconcilation, once complete, was hard.
I created an entity, a voice to give voice to other ideas that roll around my head. Things and topics that I want to look closely at, while not admitting my head is even in that direction. In writing, in writing with an alter ego, that reconciliation must occur.
When those worlds collide, you will have to reconcile these writing realities! There may be a portion of jealousy that rises, but those accolades, posts and retweets are still for you. It is still your work. Those thoughts people gush over, are still yours! You need not be jealous…of you.
Your only competition is in a mirror. No more, no less.
Writing as someone else is fun! I won’t lie to you (I love writing as my alter ego, Janelle!). You get to see your work in two forms: inception and reception. You get to step outside your comfort zone.
You get to explore, experiment and watch the reactions of the unsuspecting.
The gift of pen names is being able to–in the theory of imagination–is to be in two places at once. Which is intoxicating!
The one thing that I have to emphasize is that you don’t have to disclose who you write as. That’s one of those secrets that only you or your publisher need to know. But, it is a unique way to expand what you want to write, and even the persona you want to write as!
I want you to again consider hiding in plain sight. I want you to consider what it would mean for your to really explore all that your talent has to offer the world. How it will impact everything else you desire to create?
Don’t cut yourself off at the knees, beloved. Sometimes the best thing way to tell the truth, is behind a lie. Or in a voice stronger, or softer than your own.
I am a fan of comics and secret identities. With the success of the MCU, it is not a new thing to think about or discuss who a superhero is sans a supersuit, webshooters or the ability to fly.
A pen name allows you as a writer, to create your own superpower.
Anne Rice was once A.N. Roqualaire.
Stephen King is also Richard Bachmann.
Nora Roberts is also J.D. Robb.
There is no shame in wanting to explore genre or talent. There is no need to shame someone that writes under a pen name anyway! It gives you the ability to walk through the world as someone other than yourself. The coolest part this? No one ever has to know.
Your pen name should be significant to you. Just like any good superhero, it’s your uniform of sorts. It should be for a specific purpose, even if you plan to write as this person for a single project! You have that freedom as well.
Writers are masters ate bending reality to our whims and will. Being able to write, to create as another person? That indeed is a superpower. The question is, who will you become?