Sunday, December 11, 2016

Discussion: On Pen Names

Nom de plume
noun | \-'plüm\
A name used by a writer instead of a writer's real name.

Since I was little I liked playing around with the idea of a pen name for my work. I toggled between using just my initials, my initials and a new last name, or my real first name with a new last name. I eventually settled on the latter. I started to look on that name as my sort of "professional" name and only took it out and used it when I thought a professional name was needed.

Why am I bringing this up? I've talked about using that pen name here on my blog instead of my real name. So, yes, Sam Frost isn't my real name, per se, but it's a name I'm very comfortable with. As comfortable as I am my real name. My first name really is Sam, short for Samantha, though my last name is actually something different, but the original last name (which I won't be sharing, though it isn't hard to find if you look) is a polish word that roughly translates into Frost, which is why I chose it. Recently my "real life" (what I refer to as outside of the computer and book community) and "book life" (the book community, including the blog and all connected social media) are starting to bleed together. Originally I kept them apart, and I still like them being mostly separate. Sometimes I write about things happening to me in real life, and sometimes I talk about the blog in real life, but they don't cross as often as one might think.

When I created this blog it was actually my third or fourth attempt at doing so. Since I had been in middle school I had been enamored with the idea of book blogging, but for various reasons the blogs fell through before I got very far with any of them. Each of them, though, I had used a pen name (the same pen name, I think, though I have no idea where those lost blogs have gone and can't fact check). This blog was born on December 25th, 2014 with a review of the TV show Constantine. I was halfway through my senior year of high school and again had the intention of book blogging. As you can tell, this one has been much more successful than the last several. But I clung to the pen name, even though I was already 18, a legal adult. Here's why:

Safety. I grew up in a very internet-wary house. Safety was the number one rule, and so I was always uncomfortable putting too much of myself out there. This was part of the reason the pen name was born in the first place. It's not that I didn't trust the people I interacted with, it's that I don't trust the people I don't interact with- the scammers, the hackers, the freaks and trolls of the internet- and so I kept up the pen name for most social media.

Identity. With or without the pen name I'm the same person, but it is a sort of professional name for me, and when I sit down to write a post I'm doing something at least semi-professional. The pen name helps me keep this identity in tact and keeps me on track.

I like it. I like my pen name, it's why I ended up settling on this one among the many I could have chosen. And I use it so frequently it's not alien to me at all and feels closer to a real name than a pen name.

To those I know online who may be surprised, I don't want it to feel like I lied to you. I'm going to be keeping my real last name a secret, at least for now, because I don't see a reason to share it, honestly. I think I have shared it in past blog posts, though I don't know which, and I know it can still be found on some social media I still use with the book community. Look for it if you wish, I won't be offended, I just won't use it here.

To those I know IRL: You may have found this blog. I connected it to some personal social media, which was a poor decision since I did still want to keep the two lives separate in their own ways. I hope you enjoy the blog! I put a lot of time and effort into it pretty much every day and I want it to be the best it can be. But if I haven't brought it up in conversation, haven't specifically shared it with you, it's not because I'm trying to hide it or because I don't care. It's because I like them to be separate, and I like the two worlds to remain mostly private of each other. This is a very personal space, and when people IRL drop hints about it, almost like they know dirty secrets, it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me want to shut down the blog and stop. But I don't want to do that. So IRL people, please enjoy, but don't bring it up. Thanks!


  1. I've thought a lot about this too. It's taken me a while, but I've decided that if I ever get published, I want to go by my first and middle initial and my last name. It's why I changed my twitter handle to be more professional. I'm trying to keep things separate, but it's really tough!

    1. It is tough! I like the professional aspect, though, it's so nice to kinda have something there that at least symbolically separates the two "worlds".


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