Lately I have been thinking recently about nom de plume: pen names. When people write using a name other than their own.
There can be many valid reasons to do this. Maybe you are afraid of being persecuted (such as Leon Trotsky). Maybe you were told your books would never sell if you used your real name (a la J.K. Rowling). Maybe you just have a really awful name (Anne Rice’s real name is Howard. Yes Anne/Howard is a female).
Other than these very valid reasons, I am unsure why people use pen names. Especially if what you are writing is neither earth-shattering nor controversial nor scandalous.
I am a believer that if you aren’t prepared to put your name on it, then you probably shouldn’t write it.
I have been thinking about this lately because I have been researching the rise of online reviews as one of the new forms of media. True, I am a part of this world – I write reviews and articles for WeekendNotes – but everything I write I put my name to. I do not write for anonymous review sites like UrbanSpoon and I would never comment on someone’s blog as Anonymous.
The internet is making us brave, but it is a false bravado, as the recent trolling scandal with Charlotte Dawson showed us.
One of the reasons I will never need to take a non de plume is because it seems that no one can get my name right anyway.
The very first time I was published in the state paper my name was printed as ‘Shannon Meyerkor’.
Then I had an article published in Offspring Magazine, and I was listed with the other contributors as ‘Shannon Meyerkart’.
Not to be outdone, The Australasian Dental Practice recently gave me my byline as ‘Sharon Meyerkort’.
So if I wish to remain somewhat anonymous on the internet, all I have to do is keep using my own name.
If you were going to use a pen name, what would yours be?
[*Apologies to the Tourism Australia]