Monday, November 07, 2005

Real Name Or Anonymous?

The editor of the glossy tells me my story will be coming out in the February issue which hits the newsstands in January. They start putting it together in December, which means I have to decide on the byline by then. This is not as easy as it sounds.

The story is strong and – at the risk of sounding conceited – well written. You know when you’ve done a good piece of writing, nothing wrong with admitting it. If it’s humour it will make you laugh each time. If it has emotional impact, it will still affect you each time you read it. It’s not actually conceited to admit that you like what you’ve written. I’m not saying it’s the best piece of writing you’ll ever read, but enough people have given honest feedback for me to acknowledge that it affects everyone in the same way. I think that’s what we aim for, isn’t it? A universality? Even when it’s deeply personal, you’re trying to connect with that thing we all have in common. I think I nailed with this story – even though I wasn’t really trying. I just wrote an account of something that happened, wrote it for me, and then I realised that there might be something there for other people.

So I’m obviously proud of the quality of the story; why the dilemma about the byline? It’s because it’s a deeply personal story. I’m a reasonably private person (ironic given the nature of this blog, and the fact that my fiction usually contains glimmers of the personal in it), and to put my name to it is to admit publicly that I fucked up. That’s not a very cool thing to have to admit to. I’m not a particularly stupid person, but I did a particularly stupid thing, something I’m not proud of. I didn’t save myself, others saved me. Others hauled my sorry arse back from the edge. Left to look after myself, I would have stumbled over the edge. No question.

The editor says he’s cool either way about the byline but that he thinks it will resonate more if I use my real name. I’m not sure about this. If I was famous, sure, I’d agree with him. But I’m just me, a bit published but basically just one of the millions of fellow humans you’ll never meet, so what difference is it going to make if it’s my real name or a false name that sounds real?

I have until December to decide. That’s a lot of changes of mind... although I think writing this post is taking a step in a certain direction.

(I realise I used expletives here after saying I was going to try not to, but I actually wrote this two days ago and put it aside, so it’s exempt from the Pottymouth Clause).

No comments: