January 11, 2012

RTW: Nom de Plume

Road Trip Wednesday is a 'Blog Carnival' where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:

If you couldn't use your own name, what would your pseudonym or pen name be?

Hmm... tough one. I hadn't really given much thought to using a nom de plume, but this is kind of fun. Well, since Renesmee*,  Tookie De La Crème**, and Wackford Squeers*** have all been spoken for I think I'd probably have to go with something from my personal ancestry. Family genealogy is fascinating to me and I have some dead ancestors with names I'd gladly rip off. Or I'd do a little mixing and matching among these folks. Some personal choices might be:
  • Bridget O'Shanahan (sometimes 'Shanahan') -- my maternal great grandmother's name and extremely Irish (as is most of our heritage, which is something I'm extremely proud of).
  • Grace McMann -- my great grandmother's name (she lived to be 100 years old [on a farm!!!]), so I'm hoping maybe her longevity and gumption will rub off on me.
  • the surname 'Jolicoeur'  -- it's from my mother's side way back, and I think it's beautiful. Translated from French it loosely means 'pretty heart'. Isn't that sweet?
  • Genevieve Demers -- also French, and also from somewhere on my mother's side.
  • McMurrough OR MacMurrough -- earlier versions of my own surname (Morrow)
I think my choice of a pen name would also be influenced by the type of books that I was writing (ie. target market, genre, etc.). Something like Jolicoeur, for example, might be well-suited to romance or children's books because it can sound either romantic or cute and sweet depending on the target. Do you get what I mean? If I was writing something super pretentious (*snort* 'cause that would happen) I'd probably choose Collinridge (maternal great great... what'sherface) because it sounds all smarty-pants and literary (like Coleridge, as in Samuel Taylor).
  
After all of this blathering on, I don't think I'd actually consider using a pen name. It has always kind of bothered me a little when authors don't use their real name. I don't know why exactly. I think maybe it just feels false to me or something. I understand why they might choose to do it -- genre-hopping, anonymity for personal reasons -- but I'm still not crazy about the whole idea.

I also happen to like my own name: Jaime Allison Morrow
  • I like that none of the letters go below the line (like 'g', 'j', 'p', 'q', or 'y'). Yes, I'm weird.
  • I like that my given name and my surname are almost equal in length (also, disyllabic).
  • I like that my surname is almost the same backwards and forwards (well, kind of).
  • I like that my mother sort of named me after the 1970s Bionic Woman (same spelling).
  • I like that my name is the same word for 'I love' in French (if you add an apostrophe) even though it's origins aren't actually French. It's Hebrew and means 'supplanter' or 'usurper' -- neither of which is overly flattering -- and shares origins with the name Jacob. So, does this make me Team Jacob then? Hmm... how 'bout Team Neither.
I wasn't always crazy about my name. Part of this had to do with frequent misspellings, AKA name-massacring (and I'm not the only one). It's amazing how many ways people can spell (and even pronounce) this simple name. Basically, if they aren't sure of the spelling they'll just toss the letter 'i' after every second letter or stick with the dude spelling -- Jamie. I have family members (mostly in-laws) who still spell my name wrong. For some reason, all of you seem to get it right whenever you use it (thanks for that!). 
   
  
I guess when you get right down to it, if I do the work, actually get published (!), and have my name plastered across books, I want it to be my name and not an assumed name. You can have your Pittacus Lores and Lemony Snicketts, I think I'll stick with Jaime Morrow.

P. S. I should probably mention that 'Morrow' is my maiden name. My husband's surname is 'Fink' which (no offense, hubby o' mine) doesn't exactly inspire much confidence in potential readers. ☺
P. P. S. I hope I didn't offend anybody by saying that using a pseudonym feels false. If so, sorry.
P. P. P. S. My Canadian-ness is showing (saying sorry and qualifying my statements). Sorry....
_____________________________________________________
* from Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (as if you needed me to explain that)
** from Modelland by Tyra Banks
*** from Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (and outrageous in typically Dickens fashion)

40 comments:

  1. Irish names are great. My grandmother was called "Colleen O'Leary". And misspellings? I feel your pain.

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  2. I totally agree with you. Having had my own name misspelled and mispronounced in school and even now, I get it. The name Jaime always seemed a bit of a slippery thing - confusing people like it has. I used to think Jaime not Jamie was the boy spelling! (Thanks for clearing that up.) Even though I've known other female Jaimes with that spelling.

    I love your last name and I think the whole thing fits very well as a name for books. Definitely be proud of your given name! I'm proud of mine too! ^_^

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  3. Jolicoeur is fantastic! But I'd stick with my own name, too.

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  4. I love your family history. I would love to research mine, but I don't even know where to begin.

    Genevieve is a favorite of mine and you can never go wrong with a good Irish name.

    My name is misspelled constantly, first and last, even by close friends. I just stopped correcting them after a while :)

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  5. I'm like you, I'd like to see my own name on the book at the bookstore! But I do like Jolicoeur!

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  6. My son's name is James and we call him "Jamie"... as a girl's name I have seen about a bazillion different spellings, especially because I used to work in Human Resources, but I always default to your spelling as a safety-net :)

    I actually do write under a pen name - Jessica Grey. A) my married last name is Melendez...and this tends to confuse people and they always want to say Menendez - like the patricidal brothers.

    B) my maiden name is House - yes, like you live in, or like the doctor on tv. My dad actually IS Dr. House (but the phd not the md kind). I grew up with ONE TOO MANY jokes about my last name to fully embrace it...which brings me to:

    C) my first book is dedicated to my grandfather...my grandparents are/were the most awesome people to have ever existed and even when I was little I always wanted to use their last name as my pen name.

    So here I am :)

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  7. I'm not a big fan of pen names, either, for some reason. And now that you mention it, none of the letters of my name (Meredith Elizabeth Moore) go below the line, unless you're writing in cursive. I like that. :)

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  8. I like the idea of having a name that reflects my family's history ^_^

    ...Damn you, Tyra Banks! I wanted to use that name!

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  9. These are all really cool names, but I like your own name best.
    You should definitely populate your books with Jolicoeurs and O'Shanahans.
    And you made me LOL about being "the usurper". Katharine means "pure one". Like I need that!

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  10. My real name is Indian and can be spelled in a million ways. The problem is that I like the way it's spelt and everyone around me spells it how I don't want it spelt.

    We spell it right because we're awesome!

    if I were you, I would put an apostraphe in Jaime so it become J'aime lol!

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  11. Your name does have a nice flow to it. And how cool that you're named after the Bionic Woman even if it does lead to some misspellings.

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  12. When thinking about my surname I turned to all the Irish surnames in my family because I wanted to show off my Irish ancestry.

    My real forename has always fallen victim to being misspelt. Gets a little irritating but hopefully Robin won't have that problem.

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  13. Jolicoeur does indeed mean pretty heart :-) while faire le joli coeur means to flirt or to try to woo somebody :-)

    I was lucky enough to know my great grandmother and she always wanted to have her name spelled Jane (compared to Jeanne in FR), she was great!

    I´ll probably stick with my name too when I get published (my hubby´s last name is very complicated so we´ll see about that part lol)

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  14. The Bionic Woman FTW! And Fink was the name of an eye doc I had once. Although my aunt always called him Dr. Finks which made him sound shady (he wasn't).

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  15. So you need to name a flirty character Fairlah Jolicoeur, and all your French readers will get a laugh and see how smart you are! :)

    And look: Colin D Smith--no under-the-line letters there either! We could form a club--the No Letters Under Line Society! :)

    And, yes, you've got me trying to figure out what the Hebrew form of Jaime would have been (I know "Jacob"), and how you would get "usurper" out of that. I'll have to dig through one of my lexicons... I'll get back to you. :)

    And while I do understand the need some people feel for using pseudonyms--and I wouldn't rule out being persuaded to use one myself--I want to publish under my own name, in all it's boring glory. :)

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  16. angelhorn: I love all things Celtic, especially the names =)

    Donelle: I'll never understand how people can take the simplest name and make a monster out of it O_o

    Rebecca: 'Jolicoeur' just makes me happy. Probably because I know what it means =)

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  17. Theresa: I've mostly stopped correcting people too - it's too much of a pain. Researching your genealogy is actually pretty easy. FamilySearch.org is a great place to start.

    Melanie: It would feel like such a huge accomplishment and I'd hate to be sad because it didn't have my name on it.

    Jessica: I like your reasons for going with a pseudonym, and that you chose a family name with sentimental reasons attached =)

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  18. Meredith: Colin suggested we should start a club for those of us with names that don't go below the line =)

    Miss Cole: Me too, so that's why I'm sticking with the one I was given =) As for the name 'Tookie', I'm sure you could still use it (ha ha).

    Katharine: I just might have to do that (use Jolicoeur and O'Shanahan in books). 'Pure one' is great too!

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  19. Kamille: You'd think people would remember to spell your name right because it's spelled differently than the norm. That's how my brain works anyway. I like your idea of going by J'aime, lol, that's why I called this blog that.

    Jennifer: Thanks =) No matter how much I look at other spellings of my name, I just like mine better (is that bad?).

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  20. Robin: Irish names are awesome! And people should hopefully not be dumb enough to misspell 'Robin', though it would certainly not surprise me.

    Elodie: That settles it, I should go by Fairlah Jolicoeur (like Colin suggests later on). Hahaha! Maybe not. And you should definitely go by your name - it's beautiful!

    Jennifer: Hmmm... Dr. Fink, you say? My husband and I always joke about changing it to 'Finkster', but it sounds far too much like something else lol =)

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  21. Colin: Love the Fairlah Jolicoeur thing! I might have to 'usurp' that idea (hardy har). Actually, I was thinking the same thing before I read your post lol =) As for the whole 'usurper' thing, it's because Jaime comes from James. Yes, my given name is a nickname for a dude's name. Awesome.

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  22. Wow, you really put a lot of thought into it (that if you didn't do it before lol).
    I think I would go with Grace McMann. It sounds so graceful ;)

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    1. I put way too much time into most of my posts because I end up fiddling with little things here and there =)

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  23. Yay!!!! Blogger finally has a 'reply' feature!! It's about time =) (*jumps up and down like a maniac*)

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  24. Wow, i think that's the most p.p.s. post I've ever read! I like your name. I like its rhythm and i get you wanting to be you (that said I am not me...).
    Hey mine doesn't go below the line either! Cool.

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    1. It's weirdly fascinating, isn't it (the not going below the line thing)? I'm way too hung up on symmetry and all that crud.

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    2. I'm still freaked out by the change from JKP to JKS--I always felt like the J was bottom heavy and the P was top heavy so they balanced each other, with the K in the middle to stabilize. I'm used to my actual married name (because it's what my students call me, mostly--nothing like hearing a name shouted at you five hundred times a day to help you get used to it) but I always think my initials will tip right over.

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    3. I'm glad I'm not the only person who ponders such wacky things as typographical symmetry (is that a thing?). I've always been weird that way.

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  25. I love that other people had problems with choosing a new name! I love my name. So I just made a poll with old family names and was like "pick one for me." If I couldn't use my name I would want something with some history. I particularly like Bridget O'Shanahan of your options, probably because it has the Irish vibes.

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    1. I'm big on history and meaning when it comes to names. My characters all have meaningful names in my stories, which can sometimes take forever to come up with. Love the Irish names too :)

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  26. I love how Dickens had such fun with using names to imply a character trait, and I tend to do that too--so I'd recommend not using Fink casually!

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    1. I love that too -- Uriah Heep (ick), Martin Chuzzlewit, the Fezziwigs (I always have to think about that one because in the Muppet Christmas Carol it's Fozziwig lol). Like I've mentioned in other comments above, all of my characters' names have meanings. Their meanings or implications aren't always overt like Wackford Squeers, but if someone were to look them up they'd probably understand why I chose them. I also like the way certain names sound too. I would so not use Fink casually lol :)

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  27. Oh, Canadians <3 HELLO, FELLOW CANUCK.

    I actually really like all of those names! It's a good thing I didn't do this question... I probably would have sat there for 3 hours trying to come up with a semi-suitable name. In the end, I would probably emerge named Sparkle Rooster or something equally horrible.

    (J'AIME ça -- see what I did there? :D)

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    1. Hello back, fellow Canuck =) Sparkle Rooster? Hilarious! And I totally saw what you did there with my name. Nicely done (especially with the cédille accent on the ç).

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  28. I want it to be my name, too. Plus, coming up with a pen name? Hard. I love the idea of going with your ancestry, though!

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    1. It seems only fair to have your own name on the front of your book, right? Yeah, I think coming up with a pen name that I'd actually want to use and that didn't feel like a total stranger to me would be super hard. It's hard enough coming up with names for characters! :)

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  29. I"m starting to get jealous of all the writers with a middle name, it sounds so much more profound. I like your names, they work well.

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    1. Do you not have a middle name? I don't think I'd use mine, or even my middle initial if I got published. I think I'd just go with my first and last name. Lots of time to think about that, though. This might never be a dilemma for me if I never publish anything :)

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  30. Holy crap! This post is so much fun! Seriously!!!! I'm loving reading through all these replies...

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    1. I loved the replies too! So many of them made me giggle :) This topic in general was loads of fun.

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