People have asked me why I write under the pseudonym Theodore Volgoff.
Below are the four reasons why I have chosen to use a pen name.
My main reason for using a pseudonym is this: I want the work to be recognised, not me.
Besides, if my face becomes too well known, it will be more difficult for me to do the work.
As a writer I get a lot of inspiration from observing other people. I watch them interact with each other, eavesdrop on conversations, look at the way they are dressed, their mannerisms. I imagine what it feels like to be them, wonder what their dreams are and what makes them tick.
If I become known as a writer, you might be observing me instead.
Even though writers crave the attention of the public and the media in order for their work to be noticed, that does not mean that they want to extend to them an all access pass to their lives. A pseudonym may not be able to save you from unwanted attention forever, but if you should be so lucky as to have your work become hugely popular, at least it will give you an extra few seconds to prepare for being in the spotlight.
A pseudonym may also be used to protect family and friends from unwanted attention.
"Your name is Klaxon? Is your mummy Doris Klaxon, the one that writes porn?"
This is not a question your 7 year old should have to answer at school. Growing up is tough enough without having to deal with embarrassing questions about you parents.
This is where a pseudonym really comes in handy, as it saves your family and friends from having to discuss your work (which they may not even have the slightest interest in or knowledge about) with complete strangers. After all it is you - the writer - that has chosen to open your mouth in public, and not them. Whether the feedback is good or bad, it is the writer's job to deal with it, not the writer's family and friends.
"Call me Daddy, that's what my children do."
If your boss said this to you, how would you react?
I would be dumbfounded.
If you wear a lot of hats it is often a good idea to separate them, using different names and titles for each. "Daddy" is a grand title at home, but not in the office.
In the same way I use Theodore Volgoff to designate me as a writer, to keep that part from being confused with my other functions.
4. Confusing The Message With The Messenger
The relationship between the messenger and the message, is like that of a parent and their child.
Now, if you can't stand Mr. and Mrs. Klaxon, would you employ their son John Klaxon? Would you let him date your daughter? Borrow your car? Would you be able to see the person John Klaxon, value him for who he is as an individual, and not judge him based on where he came from?
After all, he did not choose his parents any more than you did.
The opposite may also be the case, where you think very highly of the Klaxons. And based upon your impression of them as decent, humble and law abiding people, you decide to lend their son your car. A decision you later regret when you get a visit from the police, and they ask why your car was seen speeding away from a crime scene.
By the same token, I do not want you to judge my literary children based upon your impression of their parent. I want you to see them as they are, not as you think of me.
We all confuse the message with the messenger sometimes and I am just as guilty of this as everyone else. By using a pseudonym I have simply made it a little easier for people to judge the work on its own merit.
(P.S. My pseudonym is an anagram of a popular expression. Can you guess which?)
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