Considering the Nom de Plume! Why take on a pen name?

The writer who uses a pen name is a writer who can play!

For so many reasons, we do this thing – taking on a new persona. Some political. Some to avoid prejudice, or punishment. Some just like the privacy.

For me, it was a long, spiritual journey; there were so many reasons for an alter ego. First, I was always a bit baffled by the flat plane of my given name, at birth it was Kim P. Thompson. There were so many of us out there! It never seemed to reflect my true nature.

Sure, I appreciated my middle name Pauline, after my great-grandmother (also a writer), but Pauline stood out from the rest of the name like an emerald crown on a street urchin.

Additionally, there was the delicacy of being a public school teacher with an already indelicate past. I didn’t need my printed words to come flying back into my big public face! I had a lot to say, but it was no secret that public school teachers are under a strict dogma of neutrality, of purity in all things public, and lest they wish to be burned at the stake, they are wise to keep it that way. Invisibility was preferred.

However, damn it. I wanted to write. And writing all the boring, expected things I was limited to share was a death knell for someone like me.

I wanted to write the juicy stuff. I wanted to be the daring truth-teller, the uncensored witchy bitch that I actually am. But I also wanted to keep a firm hold on my financial security, my post as Ms.NoOneTeacher.

Therefore, I did the thing that allowed me to traverse those two lands: I used another name. And as a writer of any real worth, I got all in on that choice. I put a lot of thought into the name, the hidden meanings, the obscure, esoteric gnosis of a wild woman writer. Likewise, it had to fit other parts of me as well. I was not going to walk the earth with something too complex, or ridiculous. I was going to use a name that reflected my creative-and-still-pragmatic image.

By the time my nom de plume was recognized as my same, worn out familiar (and legal) name, and people were able to see that one was also the other, I had the good sense to retire from the public teaching profession and fully embrace the new woman I had entirely become.

I was no longer a secret writer. My pen name had also become my artist-painter persona, and a socially acceptable identity, even with the public’s full knowledge of my initial name. I am now legally, spiritually, and socially using my pen name. It took a while to be who I really wanted to be, but it is the version of me I have always liked better anyway.

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