I’d like to introduce you to someone.
It’s someone very close to me.
It’s…well, it’s me.
Ok, maybe I should explain. It’s my alter ego.
Wait. Not like that. I swear to you that I am not a crime fighter by night. And I’m not schizophrenic. At least, I don’t think so.
What I mean to say is that I’d like to share with you my pseudonym, my pen name.
As you probably already know, this is not something new. This is something that is actually quite common, not just among writers, but among many people who happen to be in the public eye.
Think about it. Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Clemons. Dr Seuss’ real name was Theodor Giesel. George Orwell was really known as Eric Arthur Blair. Even Picasso. His real name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. Do you think he really wanted to sign that on every painting he finished? His signature would have covered the entire canvas!
There are all kinds of reasons why someone would want to have a pseudonym. They can range from not liking your name to wanting a name that people will remember.
Neither of those reasons is the case with me. I like my given name. And I honestly don’t care if people remember my name. I’d rather have my writing be remembered.
So why am I going with a pen name?
Well, I struggled with whether not to use my real name and finally decided against it. Ultimately, it came down to two reasons.
My first reason is privacy. This is the least of the reasons, but it does bear some considering. I’m not saying that I will become rich and famous, but if I were to somehow, through some miracle, put out something that makes me famous, I’d want to keep that separate from my personal life.
I enjoy living a quiet life. I try my best to keep to myself. I like that I can walk into a room and, beyond the furtive “who’s that random stranger?” glances from others, can just blend into the background.
That’s really not that big of a deal. I don’t see that happening any time soon, but if it did, I’d be happy knowing that I had planned ahead.
My second reason would be people I know. How can I explain this better?
Everyone has those people in their lives, whether they are old friends or family members, who sometimes don’t quite get it. They’re just a little too judgmental. Maybe they don’t understand why you’re doing something you love. Or maybe they’re the kind of people who you don’t really want knowing your personal business. Everyone knows at least one of these people.
I happen to know quite a few.
Those who have known me for a while, know that I come from a particularly religious background. Anyone who has been a member of any church or faith knows that there are members who are relatively lax with how they follow their beliefs, and then there are those who follow them to a ‘T’. There are members who you would consider to be a little bit on the overzealous side. You can’t fault them for being extremely committed to their beliefs. They, on the other hand, are very quick to read you the riot act over some infraction to which you might not have given a second thought.
Just as an example, let me tell you a quick story.
A few years back, I decided to organize a congregation outing. I wanted to get a group of families together to go watch the first Iron Man movie on opening weekend. This a harmless movie that like other parents, I’ve let my children watch without hesitation.
I called up a group of families and invited them. Most of them were families with kids. I let everyone know when and where we were going to see the movie and left it at that.
Starting about a week before the movie opened, I started getting calls from people who were canceling. People who had previously been excited about going, were suddenly backing out.
It took me a couple of days before I realized what was going on.
Word had spread that I was organizing the trip. One lady who hadn’t been invited wanted to know more about this Iron Man person that everyone was talking about. So she googled it.
Now remember, at the time, this was the first of the Marvel movies. Anyone googling Iron Man would have been given the results of some of his most famous comic book stories. The first search result?
Demon in a Bottle.
Now, anyone who has read the comic book, or knows the Iron Man story, knows that Demon in a Bottle refers to Tony Stark’s personal battle with alcoholism. It was written in the late 70’s and was one of the more well known Iron Man stories.
This lady, knew none of that. She wasn’t the type of person who would ever pick up a comic book. She wasn’t the type of person who would understand a metaphor. Nor was she the type of person who wold actually read the actual search result that she was looking at.
She got as far the title and had already made her decision. In her mind, Iron Man was a movie about a demon. In a bottle. Hardly the acceptable type of entertainment a good christian should be taking their family to see.
Because of her new-found knowledge, she took it upon herself to help all of us who were being mislead down a path to sin. And she did it the best way she knew how: through the grapevine. What started out as whispering amongst the old ladies in the congregation began to spread like wildfire.
People started canceling and backing out, lest they be caught fraternizing with this heathen organizer who started the whole thing: me.
Once I found the source of the trouble, I tried to sit down and explain to her that the movie was not what she thought it was going to be. I also tried to explain what was meant by Demon in a Bottle. But it was a pointless conversation. Her mind had been made up and she was going to try to use the scriptures to convince me that I was in the wrong.
In the end, our group of over 30 people was downsized to under 10. We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed Iron Man. I’ve seen it countless times and I’m still waiting to find that bottled demon.
See, people like that are why I’m deciding use a pseudonym. If they were to see my name on a book cover, they would read it, and would mostly be aghast at my vulgarity for writing the word ‘damn’ or something. However, seeing an unknown name on a random book cover, they would most likely pass it by and not give it a second thought.
It’s not that I’m hiding. I just don’t want the annoyance of having to explain myself to someone who has already made their minds up about something they don’t understand.
In a way, having a pen name frees me to just write without restrictions. I am not shackled to the thoughts of what that lady would think about my story. I am like a child running through an open meadow without a care in the world. I can stop to investigate any story idea that comes to mind whenever I like. I can say what I want, how I want. I can be as vulgar and base as I want to be.
So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to J. D. Harrald.
From this point on, my blogs, stories, and writing will bear that name. I think it’s a good name. I hope it’s a name that will become synonymous with great writing. I hope it’s a name that people look for, and request, when they want to read something good.
And remember, if you don’t like what was written, I didn’t write it. He did.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to dive back into my shame pile.