On publishing personal essays and memoir under a pen name.
This was perfectly timed, Sari. I have a couple of things I want to write about but I'm either scared or uncomfortable because of the way in which they implicate other people I once was close to. I've been debating fictionalizing these stories, but this is another option. Thank you for your wisdom, as always.
This was so helpful. Thank you for the freedom to think outside of my name. The option of having a Mary Poppins umbrella to transport me out of Troll Land is exhilarating. To be continued.
Thank you for revealing this inner struggle that so many writers experience. I hope you ultimately find peace over this. And I love the new name, Memoir Land.
Its hard to put thoughts into paper and I know the struggle.. readers can check my piece..https://kallolpoetry.substack.com/p/he-consumed-me-everyday-so-i-devoured
Dear Sari, I love your writing and your honesty about struggling with pseudonyms and other things connected with writing and publishing. Your writing really spoke to me. I feel inspired by it. I feel grateful, too. I'm going through a hard time at the moment and, even though I know that writing is therapeutic for me, and that I must keep the writing thread intact, I have days when I just can't seem to get to my desk. Your piece about pseudonyms - and your persistence- has given me strength. Thank you.
I must use a pseudonym because of the nature of my career. Friends I invite to subscribe to my substack know who I am and that's fine, but there is no way I can write what I want without a pen name. It's just the way my world worked. Also, I am very private by nature, have no need for recognition, but want to share my experiences with my kids. Along the way, I found friends who wanted to know more, so I include them, but I have no desire to see my name on a publication.
I have come upon this several times, credit to Anne Lamott “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
I see the struggle with using your own name and the relative ease ( or comfort? ) that comes from publishing anonymously. Please keep in mind that people owe each other kindness and if they haven't shown that to you ask yourself how much you owe to them.
I love, love, love this article! It dropped into my mailbox at the precise moment I was contemplating whether to change my account name on substack before I launch my publication this Friday. I'm in a serious conundrum. Part of my struggles is similar to what you described here. The other part is that I'm concerned about the serious repercussions from writing about certain political events that took place in the country where I came from. Although the bulk of my writing won't be political, some of it will be socio-political in nature, and I plan to put them behind the pay wall. But still, I'm worried about potential spies from that country paying for a subscription if my writing ever gets read widely. Do you have any suggestions?
OMG, Sari, this piece outlines some fucking crucial things that I've long thought about but never been able to articulate, something about the courage to be authentic in a way that is so real its frightening. Women are so much more frightened by that kind of courage for all the reasons you mentioned, and the ones included in the Longreads piece you edited. Your skills as a compassionate and insightful writer and editor are matchless, and a great example for anyone to follow.
As you know, I have published anonymously to save my mom a little embarrassment she doesn't deserve, and have fictionalized my own life while not feeling free to write a true memoir for similar reasons (among which, no one tells me the truth so how can I be sure I'm writing truth?) but once the people concerned are all dead in a few years, all bets are off.
Hmmm. Interesting. I never considered using a pseudonym. This has given me something to think about.