Big news this time, friends: I can now say that I’m a published author! I’ll do a separate post about this later, but for now I’ll just briefly let y’all know that I have a short story included Folklore: A Dark Anthology. It’s a collection of folklore/fairy tale retellings, and it’s available for purchase now!
Since Folklore was released, my worlds have collided a bit. After some encouragement from family and friends, I posted about it on my personal social media, not just my writing accounts. Because let’s face it, this is big news for me. From there, it was only a matter of time before people started talking to me about it in real life. When I say I cringed through those conversations at first, I mean it quite literally. People were asking me questions out loud about characters that had lived only in my head for over a year. It was…very weird. But I had to challenge myself to embrace that weirdness and move through it, and now I truly enjoy talking about it. I love hearing what people thought of the story and answering their questions. It reminds me that it’s actually out in the world. A truly wild concept, but in a good way!
Now that my wider circle knows I’m a writer, one question I get asked sometimes is this: why don’t you write under your real name? There are a few different reasons for it, so I thought I’d write about it here in case anyone else is trying to make that decision for their own writing. Or, in case some more of my irl people find their way to this blog. (If that’s you, hello and welcome!)
The first reason has to do with my job. Most therapists I know keep their social media on lockdown, mainly because there are ethical concerns about engaging with clients on those platforms. And even if we don’t interact with our clients on social media, it can still damage the therapeutic relationship if we spend much time looking at each others’ posts. I think everyone knows the feeling of lurking on social media, scrolling through someone’s feed and thinking we know them based on the content they post. If therapists and clients make those judgments about one another, it changes the dynamic in the room when they’re face to face. When I was considering whether to write under my real name, one of the main questions I asked myself was “what do I want potential clients to see when they google me?” I want my clients to know as little as possible about my personal life unless I choose to share it with them myself. Not that it would be the end of the world if a client discovered my writing–I realize that there are no real guarantees of privacy on the internet. I’d just rather my clients form their opinion of me based on our sessions, not on my writing or social media posts.
The second reason has to do with the type of content I post on my personal social media vs. my writing accounts. It’s no secret that an online presence is important if you’re trying to be a writer. I’ve learned that in addition to posting about writing, readers want to see content that shows your personality and other non-writing aspects of your life. So I find myself sharing a lot more on my writing account than my personal ones. I’m not one to share my day to day on Facebook, for example, because I don’t particularly want all my acquaintances to see the mundane stuff. I use Facebook mainly for big announcements; I don’t need to clutter up everyone’s feed with a running commentary on my own life. But for my Instagram account under my pseudonym, I’ll share more; my dumb thoughts, half-formed story ideas, and tidbits from my day. I want fellow writers and potential readers to see those things because, for the most part, they don’t know me in real life. Social media is the only way they can get a sense of who I am, whether it has to do with writing or not. Because of that, the content I post under my pseudonym tends to be less sanitized than what it would probably be if I was using my real name.
My dad asked me “is it bad for people to know you write?” And the answer is not anymore. At first, a part of the pseudonym thing was about a need to hide. I don’t feel that need anymore. But it still does feel like the writer in me is an alter ego, for better or for worse. So for now, the pseudonym works for me. It allows me to be sort-of incognito in the ways I need to be, which helps me to be more open in other ways.
For any writers who end up reading this: how did you decide whether to write under your real name or not? What factors did you have to take into account? There doesn’t seem to be a formula for figuring that out, so I’d be really interested to hear what your experience was.