Monday, June 6, 2011

In Which I Over-Think the Pen Name Thing

I've finally decided to take the plunge and join RWA. I haven't done it so far because I just wasn't sure I wanted to spend the money to join a club that I'm not sure I'm worthy of joining.  But I've connected via twitter and blog with a few local writers and have been encouraged to come to the local chapter (OVRWA) meeting, and I figure I might as well do it.  Get my feet wet.  Dive in. Can you tell it's 99 degrees outside here and I am jonesing to get in the pool?

Okay, so I've downloaded the RWA application.  I'm getting ready to fill it out and fax it in with my credit card information (or maybe I'll write a check, and send it in.  I need to agonize over that decision for a couple of hours). 

Now after I deal with the check vs. credit card issue, I have to decide who I am.  I have been blogging and tweeting as Teri Anne Stanley since last fall.  That's not my real name.  My real name is Tracy.  Get it, Tracy/ Teri, both kind of derivatives of Teresa?  And my mom's name is Ann, and Stanley is just...well,he's my favorite Brockmann hero.  It's better than Leon, which was the name of my diary when I was in middle school.  Okay, this is not complicated, I can see the space on the application for my given name and the space for my pen name, such as it is.  I can deal with that part!

But when I show up for the meeting, do I just introduce myself as my original self, or my pen name self? Is it totally nerdy to use a pen name when I haven't actually published anything?  It's not that I am trying to keep my daylight self secret from you writer peeps, it's more that I'm trying to keep a bit of a screen between my girl scout troop, sunday school friends and science geek co-workers and my super-secret fantasy world of romance, smut and intrigue. 

Why do I have a pen name?
 First of all, because I have another blog under my Day Name (that's what I'm calling it now), which my girl scouts, and kids' friends' parents visit on occassion.  I don't want them googling me and coming up with a discussion of why size may or may not matter...or, God forbid, finding me on Twitter in the middle of a discussion about almost anything...Anthony Weiner has nothing on wildly Tweeting romance writers! 

Secondly, my boss thinks romances are only read by pathetic people.  I have taken up the sword and defended our genre, suggested she might read something written later than 1978, and she now believes me to be pathetic.  I am okay with this, I think she kind of thought I was pathetic before she knew what I like to read; but it's a fact that a lot of people in academia have prejudices about what is intellectually worthwhile.  So I don't really want to open myself to derision from the "intelligentsia" of the Cancer and Cell Biology department.  And I don't want my boss to see how much work time I spend online.

Finally, I am afraid that if it gets out among my casual friends that I want to be a writer, then they'll start asking me about it.  Asking to read stuff, asking when my books will be available at Kroger (as if!).  And then, if I decide to pack it in and go back to knitting and watching sit-coms at night, they will think I'm a loser for giving up. 

Maybe that last reason is totally wimpy, but it's there. 

Anyway, what do you think?  How do I introduce myself in real-life?  Do you have a pen name?  What do you do? 


  1. Those are good reasons to have a pen name. If my kids were younger, and I was still on all those upstanding PTA committees, I might be using one, too. :)

    Re your boss: she needs to take a gander at the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books web site.

  2. As you know, I use a pen name. Just for my last name, but it is to keep my high school students from finding me :).
    When I am at meetings and conferences, I introduce myself by my pen name. That is what it says on my business cards (had fun explaining that one to my mother) and that is how people in the "writing realm" know me.

    I think it is fine to have a pen name before you are published, building a brand and all that stuff.

    Besides, no matter what you change it to- I will always call you Teri... unless you decide to be come HEEEEYYYY Macarena!

  3. Charli Mac is my pen name. I figure, as an aspiring author, I want keep my writing life separate from my real life.

    When the awesome day comes when a publisher wants to PUBLISH my work, we can chat about my name. Until then I am Charli. :)

  4. Hmm. Tried to comment on today's post, but blogger wouldn't let me. Trying here to see it still works on this one.

  5. Okay, so it works here. I just wanted to say I'm sorry about your dog. :)

  6. I think its a good idea. Mine is LA Jones. I talk about a bunch of things and when I do I like to detach my writing from my life and family so they dont get backlash. Who needs to know unless u want to get mobbed outside the door. Look up the interviews of JK Rowling she will tell you that being famous is stressful.
    I write YA fantasy and have published under this cool pen name a series called Tales of Aradia the Last Witch.