I had never considered using a pen name. Not really.
I don’t know why.
Maybe vanity. Maybe I wanted my name out there so everyone I went to high school with would see that I’d finally done something with my life.
Maybe credibility. Because I write a first-person narrative in a pseudo-journalistic style, I thought putting my name on it was the only real option.
I finally asked myself the question: What would really be so bad about using a pseudonym?
There are only two, and both are stupid:
- Vanity. It’s stupid because no one from high school gives a shit, and if they did it wouldn’t matter.
- Money. It’s stupid because writers don’t make any real money, and it’s foolish to assume I ever will. There are logistical challenges related to receiving checks, banking and paying taxes from money earned writing under a fake name. But if I was ACTUALLY making money from something I published, wouldn’t the hassle be worth it? Of course it would. But I probably won’t, so who cares?
I found some online resources addressing this topic. I read them and started warming up to the idea.
The internet marketer in me knows having my own URL would be beneficial in the long term. I could make sure whatever name I chose had an available web address.
I found a random last-name generator. I’ve been playing with it.
The first one I liked and researched ended up being the name of a gay porn actor. So… probably not.
Step one, pick a bunch of names I like. Matt and Matthew are both options.
Step two, research the name to make sure there isn’t another famous one.
Step three, find a sensible URL that’s available (much harder to do in 2015 than it used to be, and picking anything but a .com seems like a poor choice, though I could see that changing someday).
It would help protect my son. His mother. My friends and family.
It would protect my professional interests that don’t involve writing.
I’d like to tell you I would be the same amount of honest no matter what, but the truth is, writing under a different name would probably keep the bravery and honesty quotient higher.
I’m coming around to the idea. And it’s kind of fun thinking of names.
Do I want to be Matthew Hawkins? Or Matt Shaw? Matthew Church? Matt Jackson? Matthew J. Warren? Matt Keller? Matt Watts? Mateo Juarez? Matt Chase? Matthew R. Hendrix? M. W. Hood?
The possibilities are endless.
What I haven’t settled on is just how much any of it matters.
I only know erring on the side of caution regarding those I love and care about would seem the wisest course. And I find myself (surprisingly!) leaning that way.
As always, I’m interested in your opinions and how you feel about it.
A penny for your thoughts. An imaginary penny, of course.
Sort of fits the occasion.