Why do I write using a pen name?
Am I hiding in fear? Am I too shy? Find out here.
First of all, if you don’t know me, hi, welcome. My official name isn’t actually Meron. I chose it myself for a variety of reasons. This is the pen name I use for blogging about spirituality and religion. Some people know my “real” identity, some don’t.
The decision to use a pen name came after a series of negative experiences I had when I tried associating my real name with “spiritual woo” a long time ago. No, it doesn’t stem from fear (so if you know me and try to “out” me in public, go ahead, I won’t care), but it was a decision I took coming from a place of caution nonetheless.
No, I am not Alexa Donne (I wish! She’s such a good writer!), but I’m sharing her video below so you can get a bit more familiar with this topic. As you can see, I am not the only writer using a pen name. As you can see, it doesn’t only happen in spirituality and religion — it’s a common phenomenon in the world of fiction too.
I won’t get into the “cons” of pen names in this article, since this is a decision I already made and I went FOR it; but if you’re considering using a pen name and haven’t made up your mind yet, I recommend that you should watch the entire video above. Anyway, one of the first “pros” she mentions in the video is the fact pen names can give you more freedom in branding. For fiction authors, this means being able to pick a name that will be easily recognisable, easy to spell in the culture where you’re selling books, etc. For spiritual/religious folks, we don’t always focus on selling stuff (I definitely don’t), BUT pen names help you become easily recognisable and attract attention to the right topic you’re writing about before people even attempt reading your “product”.
Of course this isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. Some people consider it really important to showcase their given name because they’re proud of their cultural background or whatever — that’s perfectly valid, more power to them! I’m not saying every author should “make things easier” for readers, no, not at all. What I am saying is: some authors (like myself) don’t wanna spend their time and energy explaining how to correctly pronounce and/or spell their name where they live every single day. This isn’t to say that it’s a waste of time for everyone, I don’t make blanket statements. But some people don’t want THAT MUCH attention to their image and identity as a person, simply because the product they’re selling/distributing/making available (their writing) goes beyond just identity.
For example: I have a very common first name (so that could create problems like not being able to stand out in a crowd of writers with the same given name). Perhaps I could try adding the surname, or using the surname only — okay, that works for certain people, but… My very Germanic surname doesn’t help either, because at first sight people would look at it and think “oh, maybe she’s a heathen”, and often just assume that, and I’d have to waste my time clarifying that “no, I don’t work with Norse or German gods” on a fixed post in every blog I ever work on, instead of focusing on topics I’d rather discuss.
I won’t even get too deeply into the merit of idealism here. Idealists are constantly trying to persuade me to “embrace my real identity because the world should learn to accept people who don’t fit the mould” or some shit. I keep shutting down that kind of advice because 1) it’s unsolicited, please learn some manners before trying to shove something down my throat like that, and 2) that’s very cool bro, yea I agree the world has a lot to learn about acceptance of people with complex backgrounds and identities and yadda yadda, but why don’t you fly that noble flag? Why do you want me to do it? I don’t wanna. I feel grand where I am, fighting the battles I chose. I can walk on my own feet, thank you very much. Go (s)mother someone else. Go bother Alexa then, go lecture her on the morals of changing her pen name back to her real life name and tell me what happens. Oh, you won’t pick on “bigger fish”, aye? Just the small creators like myself? How very brave.
Okay but why Meron? Why not something stereotypical like Fiona or Eilidh?
Well, firstly, the obvious answer is: those are Scottish names, not Pictish. Just like kilts, they hadn’t been invented yet. I mean, sure, Gaelic names likely existed, but they weren’t that widespread in Pictland, where the culture simply wasn’t Gaelic. For a Pict you’re safer using Welsh, since at least the languages were related. A second favourite would be Latin, because History.
Meron and similar spellings (Meirion, Maryoun etc) actually come from Latin, and yes, relate to the sea. Latin, not Gaelic, was one of the first foreign languages the Picts learned, and if you know basic British History you probably understand why. Today this very same influence can be found in Welsh placenames.
Maryoun (and similar spellings) was actually quite common as a girl name in Scotland up until the 17th century. Aye, it can be female (like Sharon, which has a similar ending) but works for both genders. I’m not sure what’s the link with the “Meron” name commonly given to boys in Israel but it might have something to do with the Latin influence.
That being said, I didn’t entirely choose this name on my own. It was given to me by a spirit guide (no, not Talorc, the other one I don’t talk about — she likes her privacy). I told the full story in a blog post on the other blog, so I won’t repeat it here, but it was basically a moment of spiritual inspiration, and I just decided to stick with it. The more I dig into the meaning and historical connections, the more I find deeper stuff, and that’s also quite fun.
Privacy, protection, and peace.
These are what I call the “3 Ps of anonymity as a writer”. You’re free to use the term if you want, I don’t sell knowledge (or don’t earn for it anyway).
This is something Alexa also mentions in the video above — some authors just don’t feel like having to deal with readers looking them up on Google or friending them on social media. It’s a bigger problem for celebrities, no doubt, but it can be annoying even if you have a small following. That’s especially true in religion and spirituality: if you deal with the occult at all, I bet you once went through a phase in life when everything was new and fascinating, and you wanted to share the “magic” with everyone in your life.
It doesn’t last long.
Occultists are prone to attracting mentally ill followers. It isn’t everyone, not at all, but it’s an alarmingly high percent. Call me ableist if you want, but I choose not to deal with that on a daily basis. If I wanted to truly help and cater for those who need psychological intervention, I’d have chosen a career in mental health. The truth is I don’t work with mental health, or healthcare at all. I could do more harm than good in trying to help people with such disorders. And saying “no” is sometimes tricky — a lot of these people wholeheartedly believe they DON’T need psychological help. What they believe is they need spiritual help; And that’s fair enough, they can look for it if they want — I’m not stopping anyone in particular from talking to “Meron” whenever they need. However, I WOULD have an issue if they went talk to my daily self, because they don’t just approach people in a respectful way (that’s what sane people do), they can have a remarkable disregard for boundaries or privacy. I’m not saying mentally ill people are “evil”, far from that. It’s a very unfortunate situation on both sides, they can misjudge people and insist in talking to those who can’t truly offer what they need.
To make matters worse, here in the west (especially so in “rich” countries, where the connection with animistic traditions and REAL spirituality was lost and largely replaced with cheap watered-down newage sold to the masses), needless to say, the majority of people is very misinformed. They mistake spiritual health for mental health, when in fact these are as different as oil and water — they can interact sometimes but often don’t mix. You can’t treat problems of the mind with “woo”, and you can’t discuss “woo” with a scientific mindset either. Both areas of knowledge are valid, they just don’t mix. It’s like art and maths, are they both important? Aye. Do you need math? Aye. Do you need arts? Of course. Can you analyse a painting with calculations or solve an equation with creativity? No.
You can use exact calculations AND creativity on the same piece of work (e.g. in music) but they still won’t be mixing as they’re affecting different parts or “areas” of this piece of work. The same is true for the human being as an entity — we as individuals (body, mind, spirit) are made up of so many different mechanisms that deserve special treatment and focused attention. Sometimes one-size-fits-all just won’t cut it.
Living the double life keeps me protected from unwanted attention, while also protecting people from accidentally hearing what they aren’t prepared to hear from me. Not everything in life has to be deep or involve vulnerability (sorry, Scorpios. Lol), sometimes we just need to stay on the shallow in order to perform mundane jobs, relate to a wider public, or simply unwind. You can loathe it and criticise it if you want, but it will still be my right as a person, and I’m happy to avail of it.