A Writer’s Identity Crisis

I have a confession to make. I’m not really Ana Quinn. It’s a pen name. I am sure this will come as a shock to… well, probably no one.

I went through a long process when trying to decide on a pen name. I liked my first name (Susan), but wanted to avoid my last name. I had a long list of reasons why. Toward the top of the list was the fact that, at eleven letters long, it is not the easiest to remember. Add to that, very few people actually pronounce it (or spell it) right on the first try.

So, my original thoughts were to keep Susan, and change my last name. Since I grew up being called SusiQ, Kaye’s husband (Sparky) suggested going with something that started with “Q”. I have always loved the name Quinn, but Pookie isn’t such a big fan, so it was an easy choice. Susan Quinn. I really would be SusiQ! It was perfect.

At least until I Googled it, and found a non-fiction author named Susan Quinn and a YA author named Susan Kaye Quinn. (Ironically, my first name, Kaye’s pen name, my pen name. We got a good laugh over that.) Actually, something good did come out of the situation – Susan Kaye Quinn is a great author to follow on twitter, and her book sounds great, too. 🙂  (I bought it for my nook, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet.)

At that point, the name game began. I decided I really wanted to keep Quinn, so I started trying to figure out names to go with it. Between Kaye, Sparky, Pookie, my mom and I, we debated names for days. Ultimately, we decided on Ana because it was a shortened version of my great-grandmothers name. I was happy.

So, for the past two months, I have been living a dual life as Susi and Ana. Actually, this isn’t a bad thing. It allows me to keep a separate email, twitter, Facebook, etc. for writing and personal endeavors. This is a good thing.

I find it amusing that, despite all the years Kaye and I have known each other, we have really become Kaye and Ana to one another. When we get together, we tend to use our real and pen names interchangeably. Even our husbands do it, and we refer to them as Pookie and Sparky. (They still use real names for one another.)

There is only one problem with this. I don’t feel like Ana. The name just isn’t me. People say “Ana” and I say “Who?”

Part of the reason for wanting to have Quinn as my last name was because I have been signing emails as SQ for years. My other (rarely used) twitter account starts with SQ as does my email address. I identify with the initials SQ; it is part of who I am. I wanted to carry that over. But when Susan didn’t work, I forgot my motivation in choosing the surname I did.

Kaye signs emails to me with “K”. Earlier this week, she commented that she can do that regardless of who she is – both names start with K. I joked back that Ana was short for Savana (another name I like for a daughter and Pookie doesn’t), so I could do SQ either way, too.

It was the ah-ha moment. I have been saying for weeks I really wasn’t happy with the name I chose, but couldn’t pinpoint why. I suddenly understood. I hadn’t chosen a name I could relate to.

Within minutes, Kaye came back saying she loved Savana Quinn, it sounded more like me, and definitely sounded great name for a romance writer. (It’s not yet. I Googled it. 🙂 ) I agreed, but didn’t know how to go about changing it. She said, “Blog about it.” So here we are.

I definitely want to make the change. I feel like it is better to change it now than six months from now, especially since I haven’t sent any queries yet. Still, I am worried that people won’t know who I am. Two months isn’t that long of a time, but in that time, I have managed to “Ana Quinn” from non-existent to easily found with a Google search. I have over 100 twitter followers. While I could just change my twitter name, will people still know who I am? Do I really want to start over? And how do I do that? I really would love to make the change, but I don’t know where to start.

So here is what I have done so far (or am in process of doing):

  • I registered savanaquinn.com and redirected anaquinn.com to it. (I bet you didn’t even know that anaquinn.com existed. It is still under construction, but will hopefully be up and running soon.)
  • I changed my display name on Word Press.
  • I changed my display name on Twitter and Facebook.
  • I updated the tags on all of our earlier posts from Ana to Savana

I am sure I am missing things. Let me know if you can think of anything else I need to change. Any advice would be great!

Oh, and what are your thoughts on the new name? 🙂

~♥~ SQ ~♥~ (Sorry, I couldn’t resist 😉 )

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About Susi Borath

Susi Borath finds time to write between freelance marketing jobs, minor league baseball games, creating new cookie recipes, and juggling more laundry than any two people should be able to produce. You can find more about her at http://susiborath.com or follow @susiborath on Twitter.
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11 Responses to A Writer’s Identity Crisis

  1. Kaye Peters says:

    Ah, the beauty of pen names. We all have different reasons for using them, I personally, have a couple of reasons, but none more important than my family. This is my adventure; I put myself out there on Twitter, Facebook and this blog, not them. So in a way I’m protecting my family, especially my kids. I chose to put myself out there, they didn’t.

    Of course I talk about them, I even put a picture of them up on my website, but like I said, this is my deal. When they grow up and want to go public with their own thoughts and feelings I can encourage it knowing that they are doing it because of who they are, not what I tried to do. Does that make sense?

    I also like the way I feel when I write. I made up a little personality for Kaye, and she’s quickly taking over….I like it 🙂 I’m more confident, more laid back, more like the self I was before the stresses of marriage, motherhood and well, life took over. I’m starting to realize that Kaye is a bigger part of me than I had originally thought.

    I know I’m sounding like a split personality here and I apologize because I’m really not crazy. (Well, maybe just a little, but show me a writer who is completely sane.)

    Of course, I must give a shout out to all of our friends and families that know us by our actual names and read our blog. Thank you acting like its totally normal for us to pretend to be different people. *kisses*

    • Savana Quinn says:

      My family (and future family) was part of my decision as well. I may be putting myself out there, but I don’t want to force them with me.

      You know as well as I do that Savana has taken on her own personality as well. Pookie even notices it, saying that it must be Savana coming out if I do something out of character. (People around us really must think I have serious issues). It is almost like being in an improve show. 🙂

  2. I love having a pen-name. Isabella isn’t my real name, only because my real name is Chauncey and people can’t ever get that right. (I’m usually Chelsea, Chezley, Chancey…the list could go on forever). As a “writer,” I imagined how my new name would look on the cover of a book, and wondered if I even felt like an Isabella. After sitting on it for about a week or so, my mind was made up, and I was a new person.

    As far as writing with a pen-name, I feel more free and able to write the erotic scenes that the “pretty” girls would make fun of me in high school for, wondering if I even know what sex was! It does also protect my family, which is a plus!

    I say, “Good for you, SQ!” 🙂

    • Savana Quinn says:

      I did that too! I actually have an easier time picturing Savana Quinn than Ana Quinn. I picture flowing letters over a beach scene, very serene yet seductive. Really, I need some help. I should probably be spending more time writing and less dreaming of my book on bookstore shelves.

      Ironically, I always picture it on shelves in some little corner “mom and pop” bookstore, not in a huge mega-store, (even though I love Barnes and Noble.) Those are the stores that you can just get lost in – nothing but books, crammed together. But I guess that is a post for another day. 🙂

  3. Lisa says:

    I love the new name. I don’t have a clue what you need to do, but I have thought about it myself. There are too many Lisa Kramer’s out there. If you Google me, you find an economist, a sociologist, a self-help guru, and me buried amidst them all (plus the fictional Lisa Kramer from some movie or other). Now you’ve got me thinking, what should my name be? Hmmmmm.

    • Savana Quinn says:

      That was actually another concern of mine with Ana Quinn. There were a lot of them out there, although none were fiction writers. I really wanted to be more unique. While there are some Savana Quinns out there, they don’t seem to be as common.

  4. Owwlits says:

    I really like the name Savana Quinn. That shouldn’t matter though, you are who you are whether people agree or approve or not. You are not just Susan …… your inner self should have a name too and you would be the best one to name her, you know her the best. I do really like the name though.

  5. Savana Quinn says:

    If anyone is interested, someone posted this on Twitter last night, and I thought it gave great insight into pseudonyms from an agent’s perspective. 🙂 http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/Agent+Miriam+Kriss+On+Whats+In+A+Name+When+Should+You+Use+A+Pseudonym.aspx

  6. Pingback: His Avatar Just Had To Be An Egg | Have Coffee… Will Write

  7. Pingback: » What’s in a Name? Susan Borath

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