Do you use a name IRL other than the one you were given at birth? If so, when and how did you change it? If you use your new name widely, did you have to convince people you already knew to use the new one? If you only use the pseudonym professionally (e.g. for publication), how do you explain it to people who know you by your ‘other’ name?
NOTE: I am looking more for people who decided they wanted a ‘stage name’ or didn’t like the sound of their own, so chose one at random, or maybe took a family name. Doesn’t count so much if it’s a nickname that stuck at a young age, or if it was given to you by your husband (though I guess some of the issues are the same, assuming you have a career).
I (very) occasionally need a pseudonym for written work that needs a byline but not my own name. The one I use is my mother’s birth name (she’s first-generation American and it was Americanized when she started school) plus my father’s middle name (a family surname). Since both begin with “A,” it makes for a rather pretty combination, IMHO.
I changed mine about ~16 years ago. I was going through some really important personal changes, and I wanted to distance myself from the person that I was and mark that I had left all that behind. Also, I’d never really liked my birthname.
I picked Maggie because 1) I liked it better 2) It’s a more common name than my birthname (part of why I disliked my BN was because it’s so rare) and 3) Most fictional characters named Maggie are firey, assertive, powerful women, and I wanted to be more like that.
I never told anyone not to call me by my BN, just started introducing myself as Maggie. I don’t refuse to answer to my old name, but very few people use it anymore - even my mom has started calling me Maggie recently. Which is good, and not something I ever expected - she’s a stubborn old broad, and held out a long time.
Tis an Australian bastardization of my birth name. Much shorter, and unique in this country. I still introduce myself with my real name in official capacities, or to people I don’t plan on speaking to again
Though the uni system up here recently adopted a “Preferred Name” option on forms, which is nice.
I use a nom de chanteuse for performing and writing music.
I chose a nickname of my IRL first name, my second name and my grandmother’s maiden name. My IRL last name is short, but always gets a question when it comes to spelling it from hearing it spoken or vice versa. Gran’s maiden name is a bit longer, but next to impossible to mispronounce or misspell.
For writing, I picked a three-part name. First name is Savannah, because it’s pretty and I used to drive along Savannah Avenue to get home. Middle is the last name of two of my favourite writers. Then Smith, because every psuedonym needs a “Smith”.
I used to be Siren on messageboards, but now I’m Savannah online too.
I have a whole list of other pseudonyms in case I need them in the future. Picking your own name is fun!
IRL I’m Lurker; even to most of my family. It goes back to my younger days when I worked at a Harley shop and rode around with various packs that can best be described as gangs. I never joined any of them; I just liked to travel. We would get pulled over a lot and generally hassled by the cops with folks getting searched or questioned or whatever – but never me. Never once did I get so much as a nod; it was like that old thing from SOAP and I was invisible. We were discussing my “talent” at a thing the Grim Reapers were having out Indiana way when one of the dudes I rode with regular said “I know what it is — even the pigs can tell you’re just a damn lurker. You turn up everywhere but you don’t belong anywhere! They can’t see into your dimension”. The name stuck and after a while I came to like it.
And it fits – I can turn up just about anywhere but I don’t really belong. More an observer of the human condition.
I hate my given name. The first time I sold a story and got a byline, in about 1987 or something, I tried to use just my last name. The editor told me I was not a rock star and used a diminutive of my last name to create a new first one.
I needed a pseudonym for some books I wrote that were published by a company that competed with a company I’d already written for. I used my paternal grandmother’s first name and my maternal grandmother’s last name.
That sounds like me. The debate is really between interesting and memorable, and boring but established (and easy to spell).
Thanks for all the replies! I will probably just hang around with the old name until I have a major life change, move to another country or completely ruin my reputation in my field. We’ll see which comes first.
The pseudonym I use for all of my published works is a name I used in college when pulling practical jokes over the phone. I use a pseudonym, as I don’t really want my professional colleagues and friends to know about my publishing work.
Screen Actors Guild registered stage name. Because someone in SAG already has my real First Last name, I use my real First Middle as my stage name.
Socially with a group of bikers who all use pseudonyms. I was inspired by the name Harrison Ford - the first name is a President from the 1800’s, the last name is a make of car (but avoiding the Lincoln Lincoln trap, think Grant Pontiac (but not that)). Many others in the biker group formed their names from street signs at an intersection (like First Main (but not that obvious)).
Growing up, most people used a diminutive of my given name which, when combined with my maiden last name, sounded like a stripper or a punchline. I always hated it and it didn’t suit me. After I moved to New York, I wanted to create a name that better reflected my personality, so I simply used another version of my given name that I like better (think John, Ivan, Juan, Jean all being the same name.) After I married, I took my husband’s name and am known professionally by this new combination. Family and friends from the past still call me by my original name but even my mother now refers to me by the new nickname in a professional context. Although it’s been 30 year, so not really new.