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.