Thursday, September 26, 2013

Who Am I ?

I've been thinking a lot lately about my pen names and whether I should combine them or keep them separate.  That also got me to thinking about my given name and how it has changed at different times of my life and how it reflected specific roles I played with that name.  I think this happens more for women than men--at least in my generation of women.

Our first grandchild was born in July. His name was carefully constructed by his parents. The first name unique, not one in use in the family or by extended relatives. The middle name a respectful homage to an uncle who died too young. The last name one that shows the child's relationship to this specific couple. Being male I wonder if he will ever decide to change his last name if he marries. I wonder if he will grow up loving his first name, or decide to use his middle name instead. Then what about a nick name. How many people are given a "proper" name but called by a nickname all their life?

Now that the Internet remembers everything about us--even when we wish it didn't--it is hard to change one's mind about a name.  Even if a name is changed legally, getting a previous named erased from the Internet is near impossible.

At birth my first name was after my great-grandmother--the woman who raised my father. It was given to me not because my parents loved that name, but because my great-grandmother insisted I be named after her.  My middle name was in rememberance of my father's sister who died when she was young. My last name was my family name.  I was always called by middle name because my mother hated being forced dto name me after great-grandma.

When I married, I took on my husbands name and took the opportunity to drop that hated first name so I could retain my family name.  When I divorced I dropped by husbands name. When I remarried I took on my new husband's name.  When I look back on it, all these names were a reflection of me at that time of life and how I perceived my role in the world.

As a fiction author I have two pen names now, Maggie Jaimeson for my adult fiction and Maggie Faire for my young adult fiction. I kept Maggie so if anyone ever called out my name I would at least know to turn around.:)

Am I a different person with each of these names? Inside I am the same person. I can't help but be the same. I still care about the same things, have the same life philosophy, and I think my writing in both young adult and adult fiction deal with similar issues. However, on the outside, I think I am a different person.  We all show different sides of our personality in different social situations. My Maggie Jaimeson persona is older, more serious, more of a motherly figure. In many ways I channel my counselor training through Maggie Jaimeson.  My Maggie Faire persona is an adult, but allows me to channel some of the freedom and angst of being a teenager. I feel more free to joke, be a little over the top, or emotional.

I believe everyone chooses personas for different parts of their life. They aren't falsehoods, but the desire to only reveal a small part of the whole.  How about you? Do you have different personas? Do you act differently depending on who you are with or what you think is expected in that situation? Do you ever wish you were a little less inhibited?

I love this quote about writers I saw today. It reflects that dissonance between who we portray on the outside and who we are on the inside. Now if only could change my name on all the bad books. :)

"A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down. If it is a good book nothing can hurt him. If it is a bad book nothing can help him."
--Edna St. Vincent Millay


Paty Jager said...

I grew up always aware I was being watched and had to set a good example. We lived in a small community and every adult knew you and your parents. If you stepped out of line it made it back to your parents and you suffered the consequences. Therefor I was the model student and child when out in the public, but could be goofy and outspoken when at home. I'm still a lot like that. If with family and friends I can let loose but out in the public I keep a tight rein on how I act.

Jamie Brazil said...

Fascinating subject. Having gone the same name change path the reasons for the shift are rooted in history. Great observation that one can never erase one's previous name from the internet.

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Paty, if I hadn't spent some time at your house recently I would have never known you can be goofy. I love it! I'm still trying to find a way to "let go" among friends. My problem is once I rein it in it's pretty hard to let loose the stays.

Jamie, so true. I find my academic professional stuff still all over the web, even though I've deleted accounts in all kinds of places. It's those darn robots that make connections and keep archived copies to help us find things even when they are deleted. Scary. Not that anyone will ever put 2 and 2 together and determine I'm really an alien from the moon Charon. :)

Susan Lute said...

Someday I want to be Sloane Leopold :) Sloane is Irish for "a strong protector, a woman warrior." Leopold is German for "a bold ruler of the people." And I like the sound of it, lol.