I’ve asked myself this question over and over. It’s like time: impossible to truly tie down and fully understand.
I have never liked my name. No... It isn’t even that. I have never felt that my name belonged to me. It’s too eeky, too long, too many syllables. It never shortened neatly. I was Nikki or Nicky for about three months in the early 80s. It didn’t work for me, although, I’m still rather delighted that my mother-in-law uses it occasionally.
My English teacher, whom I adored, thought that I was far too serious a person to abbreviate my name, and rather revelled in Nicola, but it was a tease. I also called her ‘Mum’ once in class, so I guess the joke was always on me.
I have always been Nik with the husband. Our names dove-tail together, making a neat whole, but without him, taken solo, that doesn’t work, either; it’s too masculine. Once or twice, people have been more than a little surprised to find out that I’m a girl, when they’ve known me only by name and reputation before meeting me. Odd, you see?
Among the husband’s brigade, and writing SFF or tie-in fiction, and editing, of course, I’ve been Nik Vincent for all of my working life.
Then Adelie High came along. I bloody love Addy! She wasn’t so much an alter-ego as a heteronym. She began as an Art School project about identity, and existed only on the web, where she made art on a bamboo tablet, and had FB and YouTube accounts. Then she wrote “Naming Names”. She had the cojones that I lacked.
In the end, I couldn’t hide behind my little cousin forever. I didn’t want to. Having decided that I would ‘out’ myself, I had to think about my name again.
I couldn’t decide.
The husband thought I should embrace the name I was given and revert to Nicola: too serious, too old, too something-else to abbreviate.
It is done.
Now all I have to do is decide on a surname, but that’s a-whole-nother conversation, mostly about gender politics and patriarchy. In the meantime, my father’s name hooked up to the husband’s will suffice, but watch this space.
The whole name issue is quite serious when you go to represent yourself on a book, or even more succinctly, on a book spine. I'm sure if I allowed people to call me Becky, or worse Bex, I think people would assume quite different things about my writing. Working as a psychologist, academically I was always Rebecca for research, publication and management, and Reb to clients/patients once I knew them.ReplyDelete
Have you given any though to using initials and avoiding the assumptions that come out of a female name?
I kept my 'maiden' name because my publication history started very early with magazines. Making up a name would fit with the life of a novelist - after all, we are always creating characters, even the hidden narrator. Have you had any thoughts?