I’m writing as me: Is this weird?

So, I don’t use a pen name.

I’m starting to wonder if this is odd.  I belong to several online writers groups and a larger, state wide writers group and, quite honestly, I was surprised to see TONS of people write under a pen name.  “Blah blah writing as blah blah.”  Or, “I write <this genre> under <this pen name> and <this other genre> under <this other pen name>.”

I guess I just never thought about it.  I just always assumed, hey, I’m Heather.  Heather wrote this, therefore, it should be published under Heather’s name.

I’ve seen, for example, erotica authors explain they write under a pen name since they feel somewhat uncomfortable sitting at, say, the PTA meeting knowing their kid’s teacher knows they wrote, “Molly, Polly, and what the Parrot Saw.”  This makes sense.  I can get on board with that.

I’m assuming–and correct me if I’m wrong–the multi-genre pen name people do so because it’s hard to write under the same name in multiple genres?  So, for example, I’d write my historicals under my real name and my paranormals under a pen name?

The debut novel pen name, though…..I just never considered it.  Everywhere I look now, I notice pen names!  Everyone has them!  Or maybe I’m just more cognoscente of them.   Not that it matters, I guess, since I already have my email, my blog, and every social media site on the planet set up with my real name.  I’ve got street cred.  At least marginal online cred.  I mean, you’d be confused if you came to read my latest blog post and it was written by Priscilla von Redmond Hart-Danube, wouldn’t you?  And yes, that’s totally going to be my pen name now that I’ve made it up.

Back in my early college days (you know, during the time of the dinosaurs), I worked at the bookstore in the mall.  There was another Heather who worked there and, evidently, this was confusing to our staff of approximately five.  And evidently referring to us as “Heather H” (me) and “Heather L” (her, but I don’t remember if that was actually her last initial) was also confusing, since they asked us to come up with a nickname to differentiate us.  I let her be Heather.

And I was Dixie.

My mother thought this was ridiculous.

I was Dixie for several reasons, including but not limited to:

  • There is no shortened version of Heather.  Heath is marginal and I refuse to accept Heth.
  • My last name wasn’t usable as a first name.  Seriously, a name tag with Hambel is weird.
  • I wasn’t sure I could actually refer to myself as any other legit name without feeling borderline crazy.
  • I’m big into the Civil War and, at the time, it just felt right.

Nobody got the Civil War connection.

But I was Dixie.  My name tag read Dixie.  My name on the schedule was Dixie.  I answered the phone as Dixie.  Even after I quit, I would shop at the store and the associates would refer to me as Dixie.

It weirded The Hubs out.  He said, “But you’re Heather.”

Yes.  I am Heather.  I’ve been Heathwad (don’t ask).  I’ve been H Squared.  I’ve been H.  I’ve been Curley.  A kid at work calls me “Curls” (weird).  But, in the end, after it’s all said and done, I’m Heather.

And I like that.



  1. I don’t get the whole using a pen name and stating your real name thing. I thought the point of a pen name was to CONCEAL an identity.

    To me, it’s like if Batman showed up in his Batmobile and then introduced himself as Bruce Wayne before making Gotham City safe for humanity.

    1. I agree. I get an author newsletter in which the author simultaneously gives updates on all her pen names. The newsletter goes out under her real name, but then has articles about pen name “so and so” and an upcoming release under “a different so and so.” Again, I’m thinking that falls under the whole different genres theory. But I still don’t fully get it.

  2. I dread the day someone sees me in Walmart or Books-a-Million or the coffee shop and says “hey, man, haven’t seen you in, like, six years but I heard you’re writing books now…”

    I could make thirty millions dollars, get a book optioned for a film, land a sweet advance from one of the “big six” and buy a yacht bigger than my house, and the thought of having to admit my writerdom to the few hundred people who knew anything about me beforehand makes me pee myself a little.

    Really, there are about ten people in my “real” life that know I write anything. Two or three realize the extent.

    That said, I’m using my real name. For me, it’s incentive to not suck. 🙂

    1. True. If I was famous and showing up in the tabloids, I’m not sure I’d want my mother knowing what was scandalously going on in my glamorous life.

      But, truth be told, the thought of book signings alone–pen name or no pen name–scares me. I can’t change my face. Well, I can. But that’s expensive. Or I guess I could wear a mask.

      I’ve missed you, buddy! Hope all is going well with your writing! How have you been?

      1. Good-or-better on most ends here. I’ve been a little less social-networky and a lot more writey-and-brand’y the past few weeks.

        Aiming to release two novels between Jan 1 and the end of April 2013, so I’ve been busy. Did the covers, redesigned my whole site, been working at lining up those dreaded books tours (because I also hate the thought of an in-person signing), and so it goes…

        Good to see that you are out-and-about connecting with real writers in real time, though. Is it something you would recommend for another Burgher’ish type? It’s not much of a drive for me, and I’ve been planning on trying to squeeze in some city-writing in the coming weeks.

      2. I do enjoy out an about Burgh writing! Lots of good places to seclude oneself and buckle down to write, ie the Cathedral of Learning.

        I’d offer to squire you about town this coming week, but I’ll be at the long awaited Antietam event in Maryland. Probably not reenacting, but vigorously writing and blogging. A fair exchange.

  3. I don’t have a pen name but I always knew that I would write using my initials – K. E. Page rather than using my first name. Maybe this is weird and I think it comes from not wanting to be identifiable as female. It isn’t particularly about wanting to keep my identity secret but it does make me feel like I have a definite identity as a writer.

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