What’s in a name?

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Do you write under a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, would you ever consider it?

Everything I publish is written by someone called Richard Dee. That’s not my real name.

There are a couple of possible reasons for that.

As I’ve said many times before, I don’t consider myself to be a writer. For the first fifty years of my life, I was unable to write anything, except an official report (where I used to put a number in every box and hope for the best) and the occasional postcard home. At school, I was told I lacked imagination and the ability to do…, well just about anything.

To go from that to (almost instantly) being someone who writes half a million words a year is just not credible. Yet it happened.

So where does it all come from?

I’m no more than the conduit. I see a film playing in my head and write down what happens. I can rewind it or play it again slowly but I can’t fast-forward. Which means that I get the story at the same time as a reader will, every piece of action or dialogue in real-time. It used to be slightly unsettling, now I find it as natural as breathing.

And why me? I have no idea why I’ve been chosen to do this. I sometimes wish that as well as giving me the stories, they would also tell me how to do the marketing once the books were finished.

It would somehow be wrong to take the credit for what they do through me, hence I don’t use my real name. Which leads us neatly on to reason two.

Plausible denial.

Otherwise known as shooting the messenger. If you don’t like what I write, take it up with the voices in my head. It has nothing to do with me. After all, I’m not Richard Dee.

You might think I’m joking. I’m someone who has been asked, publicly, for a refund on a paperback because the person didn’t like it. If that had happened to you, you might want to be someone else.

And even more importantly, when I started writing things down, I was still employed. My employer at the time was very strict about people having second sources of income. I would have to have got his permission, or potentially get sacked if I was making money outside work and not telling him.

If you’re watching, *****, Richard Dee is a nod to those happy times. Now, of course, it doesn’t matter anymore, I’m retired and answerable only to my long-suffering wife.

My real names no longer a secret, it’s just that I’ve got used to my alter-ego. I can hide behind him, he can be what I’m not (confident, outgoing, fearless) when I have to face the public and justify myself. Like in the situation mentioned above.

When people think that I’m a writer called Richard Dee.

In case you’re wondering, Richard Dee was originally chosen as it looked a lot better than my real name would have done on a book cover. I could get it in larger type without requiring two lines, leaving more room for the book’s title and a better view of the picture.

Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.

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Now check out all the other blogs in this hop by clicking below.



10 Responses

  1. phil huston

    Well told on the conduit bit, but everyone knows I’m a space case. Anybody asks for a refund, I’ll tell them to edit to their satisfaction and I’ll think about it. For a nano second. I’ve heard authors say “I don’t wanna hear it. That’s what reviews are for.” Had I spent $38 retail for a Baldacci or Connelly lately I might be on their doorstep though.

    Further to the name game, I came across a poor guy named Burton Dull. You know, if it sucked at least he could say he’d warned us.

    • Richard Dee

      In my Richard Dee persona, I’m thick-skinned and able to take criticism with a wry grin. I understand that it’s part of the territory. But to be asked, in a crowded room, for a refund because the book was rubbish was enough to stop me dead. I would never be so rude as to engage, so I just smiled and walked away. But I lost interest in the event from that moment.

  2. P.J. MacLayne

    I’m lucky in that sense, that my employer doesn’t care if I have a second income (or lack thereof, this year!) And even more lucky that my supervisor supports my writing and even buys my books.

    • Richard Dee

      I have a couple of fans among my old colleagues, people who buy and enjoy my work. And it’s nice to get comments from people who never knew that I was writing.

  3. Lela Markham

    There are some great advantages to writing under a pen name. My employer doesn’t care (much) if I make money through a second job or side business. I have to tell them. I don’t have to ask permission since I’m not doing anything road-related. But my pen name does allow me to make political and/or philosophical statements that my employers might object to if they became associated with them. I can be much braver as Lela than I can be as (not telling). My main reason for considering a pen name was that my husband likes his privacy and his last name is problematic. I could have used my maiden name, but I ended up using a past family name. I think it worked out.

    • Richard Dee

      I’m certainly a different person when I’m Richard Dee. I can stand up and talk in front of people, make them believe that I’m a writer (on a good day). I can work a room, sell things and generally cope with what would be a chore as the “real” me.

  4. Amy Miller

    I love that you had an alter ego, and kept him. I’m loving hearing people’s stories of their author names.

    • Richard Dee

      He can do the things I cannot, he’s a keeper!!

  5. Roberta Eaton Cheadle

    Your reasons for writing under a pen name make sense, Richard. I did find it slightly confusing when I first met you but got used to it quickly. I never really gave my employer much of a thought when I published my children’s books. I am a chartered accountant, so the two fields are not competitive. I work long hours for my pay-cheque job and so there is no chance I can be accused of using my work time for other things. I am paid for a 6 hour day but usually work at least 8 hours and sometimes more. My arrangement is that I am supposed to get extra leave when I am not busy. Well, I’ve had three day of official leave this year and no catch up leave, but never mind.

    • Richard Dee

      It confuses Facebook no end, with my personal page and my author page, there are things I can’t do on either one, I have to post on the other and share.

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