Why do we have a name? It’s for identity, recognition, branding, and a connection to others.
Names are funny things. Some people love theirs, and won’t change even when they marry. Some can’t wait to change and others go to court to change what their parents gave them to hide a religion, nationality, or a drug hazed choice.
TV stars often change to a “stage name” so it’s easy to say and remember. Judy Garland has a ring to it, but her real name Frances Ethel Gumm doesn’t. John Wayne’s name was recorded as Marion Robert, or Marion Michael Morrison, sources don’t agree, and Kirk Douglas’s birth name was Issur Danielovitch Demsky. It’s hard to imagine either one of those HE-men being called the name on their birth certificates. Parents must be forgiven, one never knows to what heights or what paths a child will traverse and/or grow into.
Writers sometimes use a pen name for anonymity, or maybe a woman uses a man’s name to hide the fact she’s female. I hope that reason has become less prevalent, but about three years ago I heard a man say he wouldn’t read anything written by a woman. I couldn’t believe my ears. I have also heard some authors who have too many books published start using a second name.
Some people like me have a very common name to start with so search out a new name to be known by when they write. And, in today’s world, some think it is safer to be known by a pseudonym so you aren’t stalked. I don’t think I’ll ever get famous enough for that to happen, nor am I good enough eye-candy. My husband advised I shouldn’t use his last name as it’s easy to misspell and difficult to pronounce correctly. I agreed with him so I started using the pen name Susan Sleggs. Sleggs is my paternal grandmother’s maiden name but when you Google it, one often ends up on a web site called Susan’s Legs. I think you can guess that is not a PG website.
Recently while talking to my writing mentor she mentioned I seemed to be having trouble “carrying” my pen name because Susan Sleggs wasn’t real. I had a light bulb moment realizing my writing is of me, my life, good decisions and bad, situations I had no control over but had power over me and most of all from my growth as a person. So the tough decision has been made. I will be writing under my own name from now on, and be proud of it. Sue Spitulnik is me, an ever-changing person with an expansive puddle of experiences to create all sorts of emotional characters from. I write what I know and research the rest, including pig wrestling at a state fair.