Tuesday, May 04, 2010

My mistake

When I first started going online I chose to use a nickname because most people did at the time; the internet was still new and shiny and most of us were a little wary of it. Then later on I didn't want my playing online to be accessible to people who knew me professionally as a counsellor.

More than ten years further on I see lots of people using their real names. And why not? I don't think I've ever written anything that would particularly embarrass me, so my caution was unjustified.

What bugs me is that I've got a whole online presence complete with logo, colour scheme and voice under the name fairyhedgehog and it will be absolutely no use to me at all if I ever write stories that are publishable. For a start, I didn't even invent the name: I got it from a Terry Pratchett book. That didn't matter when it was just the login for a few bookchat sites but now I'm beginning to regret it.

My dilemma is do I abandon ten years of establishing a reputation or do I just hope that nothing I write ever gets published?


Stacy said...

I don't know that you'd be abandoning the reputation. I moved from my nickname to my real name when I launched my website. Incidentally, my following has doubled since then.

Actually, I think it's doubled because you linked me to your blog once. That's when I saw an increase. So thank you!!!

McKoala said...

Same thoughts here!

Kate said...

Oy, I'm so with you. I'm really torn myself on how to manage my alias, now that the reasons I created it might be outweighed by the reasons to drop it.

But once you no longer need the security of anonymity, you can simply shed it. Put your real name (or pen name) in your blog profile. Sign your comments "fairyhedgehog aka real name". Update your twitter profile. Buy your domain name and point it to this blog. Old links to fairyhedgehog.blogspot.com will still work; you won't lose followers. Likewise, you can change your twitter display name without changing your username or losing followers. It won't take long before people know you as both. You can drop the alias altogether later if you want to, but you could simply continue as both.

Mother (Re)produces. said...

There's a third option; you could change your name to something *really* daft, such as, oh, say, "Mother (Re)Produces" and then write so badly that you're GLAD no one ever connects the two.

I've heard it works for some...

but seriously, I'm with Kate; I think a gradual coming out is easier than you think, and I don't see why it should have any negative consenquences.

Wings in the Night said...

I have seen people abandon aliases. It's pretty much as Kate said. Kind of like coming out as GLBT. Hope you don't mind the comparrison.

I understand the anonymity thing. My name certainly isn't Nightwings - although I wouldn't mind that, actually. And sometimes it's just fun to have one.

But if it's time for you to shed yours then Kate has a good way of doing it.

fairyhedgehog said...

stacy, I remember when you made the change and it took me a while to get used to the new name but I did in the end. I'm glad you think my link helped!

McK, I love your nick and I can see that you'd be in a very similar position to me. (Although making up your own name means you're slightly less behind than me, I think.)

Kate, those are brilliant suggestions. Following your advice on your blog I've just got myself a .co.uk domain name in my real name so I'm ready to go. I'll take a few deep breaths first though!

MotherRe I don't believe it! And at least you made up your own name. I wish I'd done that.

Wings, sometimes an alias is good. I haven't quite decided if I'm ready to abandon mine yet. A lot of people do know my real name online - whenever I email people, I reveal my real name and that's intentional.

Wendy Ramer, Author said...

I also vote for coming out of the closet (so to say). You could incorporate your name into your blog title (as suggested above by someone else), and eventually fade out fairyhedgehog...though that's also kinda cute.

fairyhedgehog said...

Wendy, I've just changed my fairyhedgehog logo to my real name. (I own the logo, so I can do what I like with it) so that's ready to go. I'm going to have to brace myself and just do it one day.

I still have a little shiver when I think of former counselling clients seeing me playing at writing though.

Adam Heine said...

I'll support your coming out. Changing names always feels weird at first, online or in real life. But if you just stay consistent with your posts -- and why wouldn't you? -- the weirdness will pass and eventually you'll wonder why you ever hesitated.

Changing domain names is actually a lot harder.

fairyhedgehog said...

Thank you, Adam!

Old Kitty said...

Oh (soon to be formerly?) fairyhedgehog!


Never ever ever give up on your dreams of being published!! And I think you will know when it's the right time to er... come out of that pseudonym closet and embrace your other name!

Then again there are lots of writers writing under different names left right and centre! And having an alter-ego so to speak allows more freedom of expression for me anyway.


Good luck!

take care

fairyhedgehog said...

Kitty, I've loved being fairyhedgehog. If I'd made up the name myself I might even want to stick with it, but it isn't really mine to use.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

If you're concerned about career and writing mixing, have you thought about a "real" penname? Same rebranding, just to whatever new penname you'd like to use. Short story markets won't really care what name you use, and novel publishers could as easily ask you to pub under another name even after you go out and brand yourself under your real name. And a manuscript accepted today wouldn't see print for 18 months at the earliest, which should be plenty of time to reintroduce yourself.

Consider it not so much a total rebranding but simply introducing a new product under your established brand.

fairyhedgehog said...

Phoenix, that's a very good idea. I'll have to think of a name that would work. Thank you!

L. T. Host said...

I don't really have anything new to add, other commenters have said how I feel, but I just wanted to say I support you too :)

One minor consideration if you go the pen name route is that you can always use a derivation or shortened version of your real name. Mine, for example. My first name is really unique and is actually a character from another author, so I use my initials instead.

Ann said...

Wouldn't impact me in the slightest. It really boils down to what you are most comfortable with. But I don understand the privacy issues. It was my concern too. I am was creative enough to think of an alter ego.

writtenwyrdd said...

I have a definite need to keep my work persona separate from writer/blogger/online and "civilian" personas. So while I did eventually use a version of my real name, I used D Lynn Frazier as my writer name. And I don't state work-specific stuff on line, nor to I mention exactly where I live online.

I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to have some level of separation from aspects of your life. But the detangling can cause some confusion, as you note!

You could also just list yourself as [name] the Fairyhedgehog. I have gone by writtenwyrdd for several years now, and I can see the confusion as to what to call me in FB and blog posts. Especially considering I use my first name and so do my friends on both.

Sarah Laurenson said...

It's all been said. Love the FHH aka Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific (or whatever you make up). I think maybe then you graduate to Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific aka FHH. (Anyone remember that shampoo? Talk about an interesting choice in made up names.)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Oh yeah. I forgot to go back and talk about Life - the cereal that even Mikey liked. And now I've forgotten which post that was.

"He won't eat it. He hates everything." "He likes it! Hey, Mikey."

fairyhedgehog said...

LTH, I was thinking of a version of my first name, with part of my mother's maiden name. It feels enough like me but doesn't put my real name out there. I did think of my maiden name but I feel like that would be going backwards.

Ann, I like the name you use for your blog, Inkpots and Quills.

ww, I can see how it gets confusing. I tend to think of you as writtenwyrdd more than as your real name!

Sarah, I love that choice of name.
Life looks like what we know as Shreddies - I doubt they taste any better with the nicer name!

Richard said...

Ah... reputation-management...

I use my real name online, and frequently cross the barriers of taste and decency in 'the forum that you can't read at work'.

It has absolutely no impact whatever on my work in local politics, media, community activism etc because I'm just the same face-to-face!

There's nothing a political rival or petty stirrer can point to that doesn't match the 'real me' so their guns pre-emptively spiked :-)

People accept or reject the 'real me' rather than some 'constructed online personna' that minds it's Ps and Qs so as not to embarrass anybody, and I never need to worry about letting my halo slip... which it often does!

'A Professional image' matters a lot less than most people seem to think.

As long as you respect your clients and their privacy it doesn't matter if you run an 'author' website, a satirical website, or even a porn-site... if it's the 'real you' then your clients already know all that and choose you regardless because they respect your skills and know that 'what they see is what they get'- without any BS.

Just my 2c worth. ;-)

Unknown said...

Richard, you have just reminded me of the incomparable Harlan Ellison.

Lisa said...

If you are published -be sure to let us know! That aside, I agree with previous comments, if you want your real name used, put it in your blog, include it in your profile, provide a link to a site that has your real name (if there is one), the association will happen.

Richard said...

Kate: I have to admit I admire his bare-assed cheek... from an early age he knew his mind and wasn't afraid to speak it.

I also have to admit I had a falling out with a member of faculty staff 'way back when' - over music rather than writing.

At the time, I thought his classical music course was as dry as old boots and said so - so unsurprisingly he threw me off it saying, I quote: "You'll never be a musician while there's a hole in your arse"

The next year, I presented him with my first royalty cheque from a successful recording, as a gift to a musical charity he ran.

I still have a warm glow remembering the look on his face. >;-)

It still galls him today, and I'm glad - he could give 'pompous lessons' to Captain Mainwaring...

Ana Goncalves said...


Look at it this way you still have been creating an online presence, by those who know you underneath the nickname. And for the publishing, it is possible with your real name, even after this online presence-as I think it is the online presence that elevates one into where they want to be, and helps extablish networks.

I used my nickname "Trulyana" for quite some time, before I had the courage and the frame of mind to use both my real names, and I think I was happy when I did start using them. I think one needs to be comfortable with where they are before they make a choice in anything.

I hope it works out and you do whats best for you, when it feels right. :)

fairyhedgehog said...

Richard, you definitely cross the barriers all the time and make me laugh and make me think. Why don't you link to your forum when you post? You can warn people it's NSFW and leave it up to them what to do about it.

I think the reason I get hung up about my real name is the counselling ethos that says don't disclose unnecessary personal information but I don't know if that's valid or not.

Kate, good point!

Richard (again) I love that story. Go you!

Ana, thank you. Trulyana was a nice name too. I think you're right and I can wait till I feel the time is right. I'm still deciding between my real name and a pen name that isn't fairyhedgehog!

Richard said...

FH, The reason I don't normally link to OL anywhere is that I don't want the corporate firewalls of any of readers who use other people's blogs from work starting to block them because of links to mine - some BOFHs will scan deeplinks from sites in their luser's history if they're paranoid enough about 'inappropriate use' of their resources.

If you're telling me you're willing to accept that risk, then fine, I'll do it as and when the occasion demands.

What I will suggest is that people who aren't easily offended visit http://our-local.co.uk/index.php and bookmark it. Even if they're not inclined to read the internationally-notorious 'bad jokes' thread... our PC Help section is a valuable resource if you ever discover you've got problems because we have a world-class Malware expert in residence - however bad the infection, it's a very rare case Derek can't fix for you - for free.

fairyhedgehog said...

Richard, I had no idea about the firewalls (and I'm still not sure that I understand!) but I can see that there is a good reason for the lack of linkage.

It's a shame, because as you say Derek is ace at getting rid of Malware. He helped me out when I had a huge problem caused by one son's unsafe surfing.

Sylvia said...

For what it's worth, the nickname I started with was "Vix" which was sufficiently embarrassing that I dumped it in my 20s. I signed up with Demon Internet with intrigue and my real name and I've stuck with it ever since.

I think there's a real issue in today's culture of believing you are anonymous when you aren't. I've seen two cases recently of women including photographs of themselves / their children / their husband, somehow believing that they are safe from ever being caught *including by their family who do not know about the blog*.

OK, I guess the problems there are much greater than what nickname they are using but it makes me hyperventilate.

Anyway, I don't think you'll have problems making the shift - especially if you connect this blog with the new one. Much more difficult is to try to start a new persona without reference to the old one although I've seen some people manage that, too.

fairyhedgehog said...

Sylvia, I guess nothing online is every reliably anonymous or ever completely deleted. I don't think my sister reads my blog because she doesn't go online unless she has to, but who knows?

I like that you use your real name and a photo of you.

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