Writers through the years have, for reasons both innocent and ignoble, employed pen names. Yes, the old nom de plume, a pseudonym, an alias. I hear it beckoning to me. Or do I see it calling me? Either way, I like the idea.
At a writers’ seminar I attended, a well-published author said that it can be wise to take a new name if you have experienced significant failure under your current name. Being well-versed in significant failure, my ears shot up immediately. She warned us to avoid the curse of “stank name,” though she phrased it more gently. Getting published is hard enough without having a name associated with high levels of toxicity. Some authors go so far as to enter the Writer Protection Program, taking a complete new identity, and moving to a new town or planet.
I thought what she said made excellent sense. It’s great advice for both writers and fugitives from justice, who, after all, have much in common. Both are known to skulk about with a furtive countenance, fretfully peering back over their shoulder. Both carry their hunted and haunted look with them like a sack of rubbish they can’t bring themselves to lay down.
So I’ve invested a large amount of time (at least 15 minutes) in search of the perfect writer’s name. The name that guarantees success. The Name Utterly Transforming – which through a fluke of acronym-ism, we seem to be forced into calling the NUT name.