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James Garside

Should you write under a pseudonym?

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James Garside
James Garside
 2021-05-11
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Inquiring minds want to know

A lot of people write under a different name to tell their personal stories. I haven’t done it yet but wonder if it would help.

It takes one kind of bravery to write under your own name.

It takes another kind of bravery to write under any sort of pseudonym, assumed name, or pen name.

But it also takes a special kind of bravery to write at all, to speak up, to give voice to what’s in you to say.

The names have been changed to protect the innocent. But the names have been changed to protect the guilty too.

If people who behave badly in your life see themselves in what you write then maybe they shouldn’t behave so badly in the first place.

If they see themselves in your work then it says more about them than it says about you.

They were self-aware enough to recognise themselves reflected back in the mirror of your work but also arrogant enough to behave the way that they did.

Anne Lamott, in ‘Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,’ said it better than I ever could:

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

I wonder whether it would be counterproductive for me to start using a pseudonym when I’ve already got an established presence online as myself.

There are several controversial subjects that I’d like to tackle but people don’t have a sense of humour about.

I’ve an existing audience for my work under my real name but I’m not too fond of getting stalkers and death threats — which has already happened several times.

Though, to be fair, one death threat was for not having read Harry Potter so I didn’t take it seriously.

If I wrote under a pseudonym it would be to tackle subjects that I feel like I can’t under my own name. But that comes at a price — having to build up a new name from scratch.

I don’t want to stop writing under my own name.

Maybe I should think of writing things under another name as like writing in another genre.

Not so much to protect my identity as to demarcate between styles and subject matter.

That seems like a lot of work just so that I can poke fun at people.

I’d become a stand-up comedian but that also sounds like way too much work. Standing up, I mean, not telling jokes.I’m a sit-down stand-up at best.

Tell your stories and live your truth — under your name or any other.

Thank you, I’ll be here all week.