Friday, May 04, 2007

I've been outed!

My friend Carol, who I’ve coyly referred to as C on my blog has outed me in my comments to Today is for writing: she called me ‘Jen’ because that’s who I am. (Then she apologized and said she’d got confused – she's easily discombobulated, bless her.)

I’m fascinated by the notion of naming and identity. We do it as writers, don’t we? And bloggers do it too, to not be identified, or to be free to write without judgement.

I thought a lot about names and identity when I started my blog. When I signed up to the novel racers there was already someone on board with my name, (Hello Jen at spiralskies!) so rather than let it get complicated I created an alias, JJ because they are my first two initials.

That’s complete bollocks. I was too shy to say ‘here I am, this is me…’

But over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking of identifying myself. I have no reason to be anonymous – I no longer feel scared/shy. I can see why people who are blogging about their jobs invent an alter ego – Zinnia Cyclamen, (I am so jealous of your name, it’s sooooo utterly fabulous), and Ms Melancholy because professionally they need anonymity. Then there's someone's real identity, like Caroline Smailes and Kate Harrison who are both blogging as a communication tool but I don't fit into that category either. Feeling brave now I realise with what I’ve revealed in my blog, it wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to track down the real me. So why worry?

We talked to a friend today who has just got married and so has changed her name. She’s married relatively late, so she’d been with her name for 40 years. She got confused by a name she saw on a sign up sheet today until she realized it was her new married name. I remember worrying after I got married that the people who knew me only as Jenny Beattie didn’t know who Jenny Stevens was. She was part of my identity – I had been her for 25 years – and I worried that they’d never understand me if they had never known her.

Now, as I sit and look at that name: Jenny Stevens, I can hardly remember who she was, like someone I once knew.

One of my favourite name things is that game where you discover your porn star name. Mine is spectacular (I think). The game's been around for ever, but just incase you don’t know how to do it; you take the name of your first pet you ever had as your first name, and your mother’s maiden name as your surname:

That makes my porn star name: Honey Layzell, but you should probably still call me JJ.


Jen said...

Perhaps I could be your alter ego?!??!?

I'm not sure what I think about the anonymity of blogging. I didn't use 'Jen' at all to start with, it was SpiralSkies all the way. Even now, though, there are only about 5 people in the world who know that I'm me (if you see what I mean?).

The weird thing is that, although I blog anonymously and have never given away my surname, if someone googles my full name, up I pop as the number one hit! Aaaarrghhh!!

Carol and Chris said...

I'm sorry for 'outing' you. I do, however, want everyone to know that I am not easily discombobulated!! (I admit it.....I went and looked it up - and now I am harrumphing in your general direction)

Names are funny things. I definitely have an aversion to certain ones based upon people that I have met. I know that it's daft to feel like that because it was the person I didn't like not the name but I can't disassociate the two!! (even when I meet someone else with the same name who is lovely)

Talking of lovely - I love your porn star name. Mine is Sandy Hutchison

C x

BEAST said...

My porn-star name would be Prince Carter! I'm particularly proud of that, and I'm sure his performance would measure up too. I wish!

JJ said...

Hi Jen -It's a puzzle isn't it? I saw the anonymity as a hiding thing, just like I'd pretended I didn't want to write. WELL I DO, SO THERE, and now I'm not afraid to say it.

Carol - don't worry I didn't mind being outed. When we named our children I wouldn't let husband name our daughter Natalie because she was a girl at school that everyone fancied!

Beast, or should I call you Prince? I bet you do, saucy.

liz fenwick said...

I guess I didn't go in for the anominity thing from the start because I was already on the web (for other things) and second because I do want to be a writer and under my own name. It's bloody hard work and when the day comes I want to take all the credit.

Thanks for sharing who you are with us :-)

Btw way my porn star name would be Squeaky coments please

Helen said...

I use the name Helen Redfern (aka 'Redders') as that is my maiden name and I am quite proud of being a 'Redfern'. I was sure I would keep this name when I got married, infact I was positive, but I didn't, I changed it, so this, to me, is a nice compromise...If you google Helen Redfern you find a life coaching woman who is NOT me. This, however, did give me an idea for a story...

Angie said...

I grappled with the idea of anonymity as well because my blog started out for friends and family, but when I expanded it, there my name was on the internet.
My porn star name is so lame: Chelsea Corder. Boo! You all have cool names.

High Priestess of Punk-chew-ation said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
High Priestess of Punk-chew-ation said...

Eeek! Blogosphere Virgin Alert. Posted comment. Made mistake. Tried to edit it. Failed. Original message replaced with sinister "this comment was deleted by author" message. Very sorry.
(whose real name has been stolen by the editor of Harpers and Queen who is younger, more beautiful AND more successful than me)

hesitant scribe said...

What an interesting post! I spent ages worrying about the anonymity thing too, but in the end if you google my full name all kinds of stuff comes up from uni - not to mention the model who shares my name - my married name. This, I discovered after a student congratulated me on my degree results! Hmm. So I've given up on complete anonymity and instead take care with what I write - especially about students and teaching!

Funny - a hesitant scribe who is less hesitant as the time goes by!

JJ said...

Hi Liz - Yes, if I'm honest, that's partly why I'm coming out of the closet. I'd been thinking about it for a while and then my friend Carol made it happen. I rather like Squeaky Davy: I think she might have pretensions to be a singer too!

Hi Helen - I thought about keeping my name too, but it seemed so important to Husband that it made me realise I wasn't bothered either way! Are you any relation to Clare who went to Hull University? You don't get away with it that easily, what's your porn star name?

Angie - I was on it too with my fine art show, so in the end there were so many reasons to 'come out'. Okay your porn star name's not so cool, but it's very Footballer's Wives, Well done you!

HPoP, your original message was still delivered to my inbox! So, I'm outing you here: your porn star name is cool: Bushbaby Beresford, I LIKE.

Lisa, I think that advice is very useful... to take what you write, is sensible. And being less hesitant, yes, perhaps that too is what I'm doing by outing myself! You don't get away with it either, what's your porn star name?


Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Hey, thanks very much for the compliment! And the understanding. I love my pseudonym, I do hope that if I ever get an agent and publisher they like it too. I heard a different version of the porn star name game, where you start with first pet and then the name of the street where you first lived (or the first one you can remember), this would make me Frisky Debden which I think is OK. Anyone not happy with their porn star name might like to try this variation. And well done on coming out, JJ - I'd be doing it myself if I didn't have the occupational need for anonymity.

Lucy Diamond said...

Congrats on outing yourself (you will always be JJ to me, though!)

My porn star name is Sindy Savage. Beat that.