10 Years of Writing.... Should I Use a Pen Name???
February 22, 2009 8:47am CST
I've finally gotten to the point of sending my memoir off to my editor. It's taken me 10 yrs to write this all down. Mostly because it's traumatic in nature. My memoir centers around the abusive relationship with my first husband. I'm not sure if I should be writing this using a pen name. I was hoping some of you may be able to help clear my foggy thinking for me. On one hand - * I worked hard, damn it! I want credit where credit is due and any author who says differently is lying. * I wrote this to serve as inspiration to those who find themselves abused by those who are supposed to be the loves of their lives. If I can't even stand up and give my name, will they trust me? On the other hand - * I divulge a lot of illegal activities and those who did them. I do not want to be caught in a legal struggle of any sort nor do I want to anger those who committed these acts for fear they would literally come looking for me. * I live less than an hour from most of these individuals. I've already been stalked once in our local Meijers by two of them who thought it funny they had me near throwing up while they followed two steps behind and snickered behind my back knowing they were scaring the living daylights out of me. I now gained about 70lbs so I don't look the same. Maybe I did that on purpose, who knows? * My first husband is now dead. He was killed when my youngest, now 18, was 3. He idolizes his daddy's memory (which much I'm sure he made up). He knows it was an abusive relationship but I made the conscious effort not to say anything negative about his father while he grew up so he didn't think of himself in less than perfect light because of who his father was. His father did adore his children (I have three but the older two know/remember the score - or at least parts of it.). I should say up front... my husband was not my only abuser. He allowed his friends to abuse me as well so there is this feeling in me that I'm still dirt in their eyes to do with as they choose and they may not fear poisoning my new life in some way. If I write with my own name, I would change the names to 'protect the guilty'. So do I hide from those who could do me physical harm and shelter my now adult child or do I step forward and finally face my one last demon on earth?
3 people like this
22 Feb 09
Yikes, that's a difficult situation. First off, you deserve applause for writing it down and facing it all, no question about that. Personally, I would suggest you see some free legal advice: some of those questions can be best answered by a qualified individual (about whether it'll cause legal hassles). Changing the individuals' names would probably be a good thing anyway. As for a pen-name, well - I would imagine that if the book is a success you have one of two options. Either you choose your own name or you go with a pen-name and avoid photos, public appearances and so on (who knows, maybe it'll be a best-seller?). That's another reason I suggested legal advice: if it DOES rocket in sales, you may have no choice anyway. It's a very difficult situation and one I think you should talk to someone about who can consider the consequences that may not have occurred to you. Whatever the outcome, it NEEDS to be published. As they say... you go girl!
22 Feb 09
What's PTSD? I'm unfamiliar with the term. Personal memoirs of this nature are the hardest things to publish, but often the most worthwhile - look at all the trouble Salman Rushdie had! That's partly why I said legal advice would be essential: you need to make sure that you and your family have protection and recourse if something bad happens. I suspect that the situation has been encountered before and someone, somewhere made notes. Lawyers and their ilk are terribly good at finding those things and would be able to tell you what to expect. Good luck!
• United States
22 Feb 09
I think I would also seek legal advice and advice from the editor. Mull it over and don't make any quick decisions (sounds like you are already doing this!). And congratulations for finishing this work of art! I know it will help you put the past behind you and also help others who may find themselves in this kind of relationship. Perhaps you could use your initials and your maiden name? Or would that raise a red flag also?
22 Feb 09
I would say write with a pen name, AND change the names as well. You don't have to come up with a decision now to link your real name with the book. You can always wait for a time when you are comfortable to tell the rest of the world " I'm (real name). My pen name is (pen name)". The fact that you are here asking that question here now shows that you are not comfortable. Also, to the rest of the world, you ARE your pen name. You telling me your real name or pen name doesn't make any difference to me. E.g I know you as showpup. I know you have written for EHow since Oct 2007. I know you are going to get your memoirs in print soon. If you now tell me that you are (real name), and would like to be known as such from now on, it doesn't change those facts about you. I would just be calling you a different name.
• United States
22 Feb 09
That is a good point you make regarding the pen name being who I am. Thank you. I'm still saddened that given my location in regards to these people, I won't be giving any interviews with local media or local book signings. Those are usually the best marketing tools for someone unknown such as myself. Won't matter if I use my name or not on that score, though.
22 Feb 09
Very sorry to hear about your past. I think that is a legal issue that most of us do not have the right to give advise. Why not you seek advise from the editor or find a lawyer. No matter what, once your book is out, those gangsters will come and create trouble for you. Take care and may God guide you to the best solution. Perhaps you may like to move far away from these people before your book is out in the market.
• United States
13 Mar 09
Sorry to hear about your abusive relationship with your husband sometimes it happens and if you can get word out to other women then go for it but in a case where you are afrid about other people coming after you then I would take a pen name. I too want to write a book or something as I am a trucker's wife and tht life is very hard and boy I do have a lot of stories to write about but I think I will put in in a novel form as to protect other people and use a pen name have a good day. Oh by the way my E-how is doing ok finally making a little cash every month
27 Feb 09
It seems to be a dangerous proposition to use your own name when there is a lot of criminal activity associated with your book which could send some people to prison. If what they did to you was criminal and they continue to stalk you then I would think that your safety is more important than credits. Cheers!!
• Beaconsfield, Quebec
23 Feb 09
I'm really sorry about your past. Last summer, I worked in a shelter for women victim of abuse. Although I haven't witnessed any violence as you have, I have an idea of the impact that it must have had on you, like many other people out there. At this point, I think that you should consider your own safety as well as the safety of your son. It is understandable that you would want credit for your work. Who wouldn't, after working for so long on your memoirs? But if you think that it may put both your and your son's lives in danger, then I think that you should definitely use a pen name.