Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pseudonym! Gesundheit!

One Halloween when I was in grad school, I borrowed a suit and tie, glued on a mustache and went about disguised as a man. What fun that evening was! What power I felt! What confidence! So different to feel sure that the whole street was mine, instead of feeling that muggers and harassers owned it. The whole world was mine! (Because of the double takes I got, I know I looked at least somewhat like a man.) Told people I was George. (Who else remembers George, from the Nancy Drew books? I do! Who remembers that when George Orwell (pseudonym)'s school chums saw his obit, they said, "Eric Blair? He was George Orwell?") For one evening, parts of my psyche that are usually undercover got a chance to play the field.

I'm trying to rationalize my use of two pseudonyms. I research, revise, polish to a sheen the work that appears under these names -- but "what certain people will think" does matter should the work be linked to me. Others' power to judge, to grant and withhold, is a fact, and I would be stupid to flout it just to be reckless or "be myself." Yet I like writing and publishing these things and don't feel like stopping. It could be said that a pseudonym means I'm cowardly -- or that it cleverly gives my entire array of traits and impulses a chance to play the whole field.

1 comment:

  1. You can be George Eliot!

    When I entered a national fiction contest as "J Gordon Bramer," I placed as a finalist. Coincidence? Who knows?