On Pen Names in Blogging

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I was taking a look at blogger Abagond’s site a little bit ago (abagond.wordpress.com) for the first time and one of the first things I learned, besides the fact that he has a nice-sized following, is that the name Julian Abagond is a pen name of his. In his post he claims that the pen name allows him to write the truth and that without it everything he wrote would be guarded and not worth writing or reading. I actually received an email from someone asking me if John Siebelink was my real name or a pseudonym so I felt that it was time to write my own thoughts on the matter.

My real name is indeed John Siebelink (pronounced see-buh-link.) I do not use a pen name because I don’t feel the need to use one. Maybe someday if I do break into mainstream publishing and an agent or publisher thinks the name John Siebelink won’t be right for the cover of a book, then I might consider adopting a pseudonym. I actually already have one picked out in case I ever need it. But in the meantime, I’m sticking with my birth name. I published my short story and all of my posts for Amazing Stories are listed as being written by John Siebelink, so there’s really no reason for me to change it.

Another reason I do not blog under a fake name is because this is my personal blog. This is where I come to vent and blog about whatever I feel like venting and blogging about. This is my website, my blog, and my online virtual kingdom of word pressing. Why should I change my name when all of this is mine?

I know some writers use pen names for security purposes, and I don’t blame them one bit for choosing to do so. I know first hand that when you give your opinions on sensitive matters, such as the gay marriage issue that I’ve found myself up to my neck in, that it’s very easy to hit certain people’s nerves and cause them to send you hate mail, even threats. Usually this is just the person trying to be big and tough, but there are some psychopaths out there who would actually hunt you down and do some horrible things to you. I’m not afraid of this because I’m a) a former United States Marine with several friends and family members still serving in the armed forces and law enforcement, b) I know many police officers and even an FBI agent who I know for a fact would crack down hard on whoever tried anything with me, and c) I have a brother who has made it quite clear that he is willing to go to jail if anybody ever tried doing anything to anybody in my family. And he will, too. Despite my messed up knee and my recently fractured foot and my beer belly I’m quite confident in my ability to hold my own against anybody. En gaurd!

As for not being able to write the truth under one’s real name, I don’t agree at all with Abagond. Everything I write on my blog, with the exception of my opinions and fictional pieces, are the truth. In the case of the latter two, even there they are my truthful opinions and true fictional pieces of mine and not plagiarisms. The craft of writing is a very personal one, because you are giving yourself to the reader. The basic rule of writing is that you must be yourself. I’ve read several books and articles about writing science fiction and each and every one of them says that you need to write what you want to write. As a writer, if you want to write the truth then naturally you are going to write the truth. You do not need a pseudonym for this. If you want to write science fiction, then you are going to write science fiction. If you’re going to write mysteries, you’re going to write mysteries. All the pen name tells a reader is who wrote the book, or who wrote the essay or whatever. So if you look at it, using a pseudonym if you’re trying to write the truth can be seen by some as misleading, with some zealous readers going so far as to question the integrity of the writer. I am not one of those people. Like I said, I know of some situations when using a pen name is more ideal than using one’s real name. But in the case of writing the truth, I don’t see it as a requirement. Write what you want to write and it doesn’t matter what name you publish it under. It will be exactly what you want it to be.

Abagond mentions in his blog entry that in real life people have expectations for you, whereas if you write under a pen name you can be yourself and not have to follow along with whatever expectations that might be imposed upon you. I’m sure that there are some people who may feel that they can’t reach their full potential as a writer without casting aside their other identity and putting on the costume of a writer, but I am not one of those people. I don’t give a rip what people expect of me. Some people at my church feel that since I am a Christian that I should be automatically against gay marriages and abortion, when in reality I am very strongly pro-choice. I am not afraid to write about these topics under my own name because a) I don’t have to, b) I can, and c) what difference does it make if I do or don’t? I am the writer. I choose what I write and don’t write. Me, not anybody else. True, in the end it comes down to the venue or publisher as to whether or not my work gets published or not, but only I get to decide whether to write it or not.

To recap, I don’t think it matters one way or the other if you choose to use a pen name or not, especially when you’re blogging. The blog–as for any form of writing–is yours and yours alone. If other people choose to read it then great. But its your writing, your personal truths or lies. Don’t feel you need to hide behind a written mask in order to be yourself. The easiest way of being yourself is to be yourself.

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