Is using a pseudonym to protect my privacy also silencing my voice?
I might have been a bit naive to think that I could keep my writing and my personal life completely separate, but I’ve seen other authors do it. At least I thought I did. Now that I’ve been recognized on Facebook, I have a lot to think about, and I’d like to share those thoughts with you.
I’ve been recognized on Facebook.
Feels a bit like my mask is slipping. I feel exposed.
I know I shouldn’t feel like this. I know it shouldn’t faze me, but it does. I’ve been living my life like a tortoise, keeping most of me shielded and out of sight. Hidden from scrutiny, safely protected, out of sight like a dirty secret… Now somehow I’ve allowed a crack into my shell, airing my business to the world, and it makes me think… is this really how I want to live my life?
“What the hell does that have to do with you being a writer?” You’re thinking that right now, aren’t you? Good question. It’s got everything to do with why I became a writer. To gain a voice. To speak my mind. To vent. To share my stories, some painfully serious, some a tad too fantastical (I’ve got a VERY lively imagination, I’ve been told).
So I started writing, and later thought up this pseudonym so I could throw my thoughts out there while protected by a little bit of anonymity. I knew using a photo, however vague it may be could possibly expose me, but I also wanted to do this “emerging author” thing right. I needed a face attached to my writing.
But what effect does using a pseudonym have on an author, specifically me? It was supposed to be a wall between my personal and my writing life. Fear had always denied me a voice, something I thought a pseudonym would stop. And in some way it did. It gave me a voice as an author, but not as a person. Not really what I was going for.
If I really think about it, I have to ask myself, why am I hiding behind a pseudonym?
Everybody who knows me knows I’m all about fantasy (and some scifi). That’s what I want to write. I want to build new worlds and get you started on a wild adventure. I want to show possibilities in what we think is improbable. I want to show you the impossible and make you believe, even just for a little bit, maybe even just for a little while, that it could be true. To show you new dreams while you’re wide awake. I want to amaze people. And to sometimes make you forget about life, have a rest, to have some fun.
But I was also going to use my voice to share stories about what it’s like to be different. About the things I’ve experienced. I want to tell the stories no one else can because they haven’t lived a life like mine. To give you something new. To help people understand what life’s like for someone like me. About life as a Black person in a predominantly white country. About my experiences as a biracial person. About finding out after two decades of wondering that you’re Autistic and have ADD (well that second one I knew for some time). I’m doing it for me, but also for others who like me have missed being represented in the world around us, in our media.
It’s got everything to do with why I became a writer. To gain a voice.
So if I really think about it, I have to ask myself, why am I hiding behind a pseudonym while telling my own stories? There’s no shame in who I am and what I have to say. Of course, not everyone will like what they’ll hear or read, but that shouldn’t stop me from living my life.
I might have been a bit naive to think that I could keep my writing and my personal life completely separate, but the pseudonym isn’t really the problem here. It’s me thinking I should use it as a fortress instead of a shield. I shouldn’t be hiding, but I can protect myself.
Turns out my pseudonym isn’t silencing my voice. I’ve been silencing myself.