02 August 2010

I Reject Your Reality and Substitute My Own (The BtV Edition)

(Howdy Y'all, X here. I'm still chest deep in revisions and I just took a break to blog at Samhain on a topic I'd love to see discussed here at BtV. I don't have the procrastination break to post a shiny new take on it, so I'm going to repost my gently used yet well-loved original blog and get everyone's feelings on the pen names, nicknames and "real" names we carry through the world. Weigh in and I'll be sure to take a break long enough to reply. For now back to trenches. *grin*)

My online presence as Xakara goes back more than ten years. I have friends who have never called me anything else and likely couldn’t recall how to properly spell the name on my birth certificate if you paid them. In addition every convention I’ve attended since just after I started attending them has had Xakara printed on the badge and thus been the only name I’ve answered to for weekends at a time. So when someone asks me if it’s my real name I say yes. I mean it certainly isn’t fake, but of course that’s not what they mean.

What they’re really asking is whether or not the name Xakara appears on my birth certificate or some other legal document that would make the government happy. The answer is no, it doesn’t. However, even if I really am as special as my mom and grandma seem to think, I’m not convinced my birth certificate is the barometer for what is real in the world. I also posit that some 99.976% of things that are real in the world don’t appear on any of my official government documents either. Therefore I reject the premise that by failing to appear on my birth certificate or W-2s that Xakara is not my real name. It’s just not my given name.

Correction on their terminology often leads people to the question of why I don’t publish under my given name. Well for the same reason I don’t publish under the name of anything else given to me. “Geometric Comforter” although warm and nifty just doesn’t have that Erotic Paranormal Romance Author ring to it. The same is true of “Green Apple 3-D Puzzle” and “65cm Balance Ball”; and where “We-Vibe” is much closer, I just can’t see answering to it at a convention, not to mention I’m pretty sure it’s trademarked.

Now there’s nothing wrong with my given name—aside from sounding like I should be anchoring the evening news. But since I’m convinced a few of my local evening anchorwomen also write erotic romance, that works for me. Also my initials are JDC which looks good scrawled as an autograph and makes a good charm on a necklace. My first name is famous thanks to a very lovely actress currently starring in a nursing drama on TNT, and we spell it the same way so that takes care of both the pronunciation and typo issues I grew up with. No, my given name is a great gift I don’t at all regret or wish to trade in. I just don’t use it.

I always tell people what I write and point them towards my novella, so I’m not embarrassed or otherwise in need of hiding my identity or separating my erotic writing life from my the rest of my life. So then, why a pen name? Convenience. As I’ve shared before, I had an online stalker millennia ago and took my given name off of any and everything I did online. When it came time to publish, an online presence was touted as the end-all be-all for any author serious about their career. I had an online presence, online friends and convention acquaintances I looked forward to seeing yearly who all knew me as Xakara. Using my given name would have meant starting over from scratch, undoing ten years of effort and community attachment. I’m just not that industrious.

My official birth certificate has four names on it. My temporary hospital birth certificate has six names on it, (that pour, tired, confused maternity nurse). One social security card has three names on it while the reissue has only the initial of my other middle name. My school records have two names on them and alas my published works have one name. It’s all real and it’s all mine, it’s just not all the same and that’s okay.

The idea that a name is only real if they stuck you with it in the hospital or you’ve changed it in a court of law is a myth. And like any good mythbuster I reject that reality and substitute my own. My name is real and so is yours. Don’t let anyone tell you different. But if it’s new just remember at the next convention I’m talking to you so turn around.
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