With my blog, I always have a lot of questions and doubts about posting.
-Should I continue to post writing samples, even though some publications consider that as being “previously published”?
-Do I still write about TV now that Breaking Bad is long over, and some of the other shows I would write about are not at all in the same genre?
-Do I still post about disability, knowing that it could alienate people, or that I could (and do sometimes) get frustrated in the lack of understanding that can result?
-What do I do when life is really busy? What about the fact that my natural style is to post in fits and starts rather than something more steady when I know that steady is better?
-With every post, should I post it? Should I not? What if it’s too edgy? What if it pisses people off? What if I get a lot of internet troll commenters all of a sudden?
-What do I do about my name?
Emilia Jordan isn’t my real name. There were a lot of reasons I chose to use a name not at all related to my real one, and one of them comes up in this post about job discrimination based on disability. The people at the job interview knew I had a disability before I came to the interview because they’d found my blog, which back then was under my real name.
So, there can be consequences to having my real name out there. And of course, there is also the issue of my writing. I want to be able to free in my writing, and that means sometimes to write about topics that I don’t want potential employers or grad/professional schools admissions committees to read. I already have enough self-doubt (see question list above) that I don’t want to add to that list taking into account that this could be read by someone deciding whether to admit me to a program or hire me. Especially since a lot of the writing I do is personal, and sometimes it gets a little dark.
It just seemed like a clear decision, professionally speaking, when I started this WordPress blog. I would try to build an audience for my writing and connect with people under a pen name because of practical concerns.
But here’s the rub: Sometimes it just straight up feels weird. Especially over time. Although I like this name I’ve picked, I definitely prefer my real name. In some ways, I’ve gotten more used to it over time. A lot of people I know in real life who I met through writing circles call me Emilia. And over the years, that’s gotten less weird, but other things have gotten weirder.
One of the things that’s gotten weirder is submitting my writing with a pen name. Some places sort of expect that a little bit, I think. If you submit to the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest, there is an optional field for “Writer Name,” and I’ve been able to manage it on Submittable as well, which is a platform that many, many publications use for writers to submit their writing. So it’s not that it’s impossible, or that even unexpected. It’s that it feels weird. It would feel weird to get my writing published and not have my real name attached to it. Sad, really.
In all the time I’ve used my pen name, I’ve only had one piece of writing place in a contest, and my pen name, in that case, was problematic because they didn’t go through Submittable or any of those things (if I remember right, it was a paper submission) and they were confused about my name, and listed everything in their newsletter and their awards brochure with my real name. In one sense, that felt right, because it is my real name. On the other, it was frustrating because it was hard to link here and use that to help build platform because it was all using a completely different name from what I use here.
And what about when I submit things like screenplays? I haven’t done anything with any of my screenwriting yet, and sometimes I think the name thing is part of why I haven’t. It doesn’t make sense to submit something like that under a false name at all (just seems weird all around) but again, what do I do about integrating something like that into this site? It was hard enough to add in the previous publications (as they were all under my real name) without making things confusing on here.
The whole issue really stops me in my tracks sometimes, and I start thinking all the repercussions of either decision and just get a little stuck. I have some things that I’m ready to submit, and I don’t know what to do about which name to use, so I just put it off and miss deadlines. Sometimes, the part of me that’s not superstitious but “a little stitious” wonders if the fact that I haven’t gotten anything accepted since I started using my pen name is a sign that I shouldn’t be using it. I know it’s probably unrelated, logically thinking, but I do wonder still.
So I just spin in circles. I don’t know what to do when submitting my writing. I don’t know what to do with this site. I’m thinking about migrating to WordPress.org and hosting my own site but it’s like, am I really migrating this domain? Sometimes I feel resigned to this pen name I came up with. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like me. My real name is less…feminine. And clearly given the theme of this site and all its pink and flowers, I’m not opposed to that, but it does feel different.
I think that if the decision was just simply about what I most wanted, I’d use my real name. In a way, it just feels more writerly, and more me. Plus, it’s a lot easier not to deal with pen name confusion when submitting writing. But if I did that, what about all the concerns about jobs and admissions committees? What about really wanting to be free in my writing? What about the fact that some of my writing is really personal? What about all the time I’ve put into this site that is based on a pen name that I posted in regularly for two years? And that all my social media is under that pen name? What the fuck is a girl to do with her author platform?
I don’t know if there is any good answer to any of this. I just wanted to put it out there because it’s one of the many things I trip all over when thinking about going forward with this site.
I’ve never, ever been good at making decisions.