What’s in a name?

I’ve been gripped by the need to sort out my social media pages in readiness for… well… something. I guess that something is my becoming the writer I’ve always wanted to be. IMG_0725

It feels kinda pretentious. I’ve only had a few bits and pieces published and I’ve never earned any money from writing.

But what is it that defines us as ‘Writer’ anyway? I put pen to paper everyday; I publish a blog that is reaching way more people than I ever thought it would; I study the craft of writing obsessively; and I’m about to embark on one of the most prestigious Creative Writing MA courses in Australasia. Doesn’t that make me ‘Writer’ now?

Furthermore, this time, I mean business. I AM going to become the writer I’ve always wanted to be. I AM constantly drafting stories in cafes, outside school gates, on the train, at the library, and here at my desk once the girls are in bed. Do or die – sacrifice what I have to – I AM going to have a publishable manuscript ready by November, and if it doesn’t get picked up by a publisher, I’ll publish the bugger myself as an E-reader.

Look at what my fridge says.

Look at what my fridge says.

I gather that social media, for a writer in particular, is an essential tool, and even though I have a passionate love/hate relationship with Facebook, traffic increases significantly every time I post a link to my blog. So ‘Becca Joyce Writer’, from tonight, has her own FB page. Do please ‘like’ it – I shall try my hardest to be entertaining and writerly. ‘Becca Joyce Writer’ also has a Twitter account now, and – Gosh! – my Tweets are going to be wildly exciting! (Have I talked you into ‘liking’ me yet? Pathetic, isn’t it?) You can follow these via the links in the sidebar of my blog if you want to.

And here’s where I let you into a secret: My name is not Becca Joyce.

Those are my given names slightly adjusted. I’ve merely dropped my surname. Here’s why:

One day, over a Chinese meal in Lutterworth, Dad asked: ‘Becky, are there any sex scenes in these bloody stories you write?’

At the time, I was trying my hand at Erotic Fiction in collaboration with Simon, one of my best friends in the world. Those Saturday afternoons when we met up at his place to write our stories were very interesting indeed, and I have particularly fond memories of a mirror, a scarf and a rather large …

… anyway, where was I? Oh yes, eating Chinese food in Lutterworth … So, I honestly answered my dad: ‘Yes, there are, in fact, some sex scenes in my stories. Why?’

‘Don’t use your surname then. Make a name up. I don’t want you to write under the family name.’

I promised him I wouldn’t. And a promise is a promise. And now he’s dead.

There are other reasons too. For example, there is already a successful novelist writing in the UK with my real name as her pen-name, so I can’t use it now anyway.

Most significantly for me is the freedom that having a pen-name affords in the creative process of writing. I don’t censor myself, or adjust my writing to save the feelings of people who I may or may not be writing about. This is especially true of my family, who don’t know anything about ‘Becca Joyce’. It is my intention to keep it that way. That lack of self-censorship has transformed my writing. I believe that ‘good’ writing is ‘honest’ writing, and honesty is easy where there is a sense of anonymity. Plenty of people know who I am and what my real name is, as I don’t have anything to hide really. I just don’t want to upset my mum, or my brothers, or my sister. Growing up in our difficult home has affected us all deeply, and we are all fighting our demons as a result; I don’t want to make their fight anymore difficult than it already is just because writing about growing up with a bunch of alcoholics helps me with mine.

So, there will be no baby pictures on ‘Becca Joyce’s’ social media pages or mutterings about the weather making the laundry a pain in the ass. There’ll probably be a few stray opinions and ideas floating about. Some observations maybe, that’s what I envisage for the content. Dunno yet … press ‘like’ and ‘follow’ and we’ll see how it unfolds…

6 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. “Furthermore, this time, I mean business. I AM going to become the writer I’ve always wanted to be. I AM constantly drafting stories in cafes, outside school gates, on the train, at the library, and here at my desk once the girls are in bed. Do or die – sacrifice what I have to – I AM going to have a publishable manuscript ready by November, and if it doesn’t get picked up by a publisher, I’ll publish the bugger myself as an E-reader.”

    I wonder if we’re just in the same boat. It appears that way. You’ll do it, Becca-of-the-false-name, because it sounds like you won’t settle for anything less. Here’s to names not our own, and to stories that never were except we make them real by virtue of building them one word at a time.

    • I’m very honoured to be in the same boat as you, Mr Lewin! I’m loving your blog. You have real talent with language and tight tight tight control of your prose. Lovely. Absolutely right that I won’t settle now – got to do what I love. I don’t really have a choice anyway; I’m addicted to writing now. Your last sentence has me hypnotised – I’ll drink to that.

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