Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Tale of a Pseudo-Pseudonym

There are many reasons that an author may choose to use a pseudonym for his or her writing. Maybe he writes both action-packed Westerns and steamy romance novels and doesn't want to baffle his fans by using the same author name for each genre. Maybe an author's given name is Hcnsiuygewr Ykjbd and wishes to use a more easily pronounceable moniker on his books. Maybe his given name is identical to that of an already-published author or a celebrity. Or maybe he just hates his name. The possibilities are practically endless.

I use a "pseudonym" for another reason altogether. My full name is Jennifer Anne Bailey. Nothing too unusual about that, right? Exactly. Now, I don't mind being named Jennifer. Nobody is ever going to hear my name, wrinkle their nose in disgust, and say, "Why in the blue blazes did her parents name her that?" Jennifers tend to be quite successful in life, if one is to look at Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Hudson, and Jennifer Love Hewitt for examples. We Jennifers are determined to succeed in our areas of expertise. We might even be unstoppable.

The problem is, Jennifers are everywhere. My godmother and namesake is (duh) named Jennifer. At least four of my cousins are named Jennifer. My sister-in-law is named Jennifer. One of my friends is named Jennifer. Three of my husband's cousins married Jennifers. One of my old English teachers is Jennifer. My friend's sister is named Jennifer. One of my mom's cousins married a Jennifer, too. Counting me, that is a whopping 14 Jennifers. Crazy, huh?

Not only are there quadrillions of Jennifers claiming the Earth as their own; there are also nearly as many Jennifer Baileys. Okay, maybe there are only about 4,000 Jennifer Baileys in the United States, but that's still waaaaay too many for my taste. What if another Jennifer Bailey became a published author, too? What would I do? Send her scathing emails urging her to change her name? I'm too professional to resort to such tactics. Besides, it's mean.

I could, however, use my initials instead. C. S. Lewis did it. J. K. Rowling did it. G. K. Chesterton did it, too. So why can't I?

Because J. A. Bailey sounds weird. Go ahead, say it aloud. Jay-ay-baylee. Jay-ay-bay. Blech. Nope. Won't do it. Plus, my initials spell "jab." Don't blame my parents; they aren't the ones who told me to marry a guy whose last name starts with B.

The solution? My maiden name is Schmid. S is a nice letter, and J. S. Bailey has a nice ring to it. It rolls off the tongue. Jayessbaylee. Beautiful. People have begun referring to me as "Jayess." My husband alternates between calling me "Jennifer Schmid-Bailey" as if I were a British dame and "Johann Sebastian" in homage to my homeboy J. S. Bach. I've even periodically forgotten that my middle name is Anne.

In conclusion, I have to say that I truly enjoy being called J. S. Bailey. It's not too common but not too unusual either, and I finally feel that I have my own identity as an author, which is just pretty darn cool.

Bailey out.

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