Trying on a different person

. I’ve been trying a little experiment the past few weeks. Ordinarily, most of the time, when I’m at work or shopping or watching TV, I’m plain old Michelle. But once I pick up a pen and start to write – I become Jenna (name changed because I’m naturally secretive). I’ve decided to write a pseudonym.

Lots of writers do it when they want to change styles or genres. Agatha Christie wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, Victoria Holt had three pseudonyms for her three different genres (Victora Holt – Victorian romances, Jean Plaidy, historical novels, Phillippa Carr, a family saga. All very good). One historical romance writer, Madelaine Brent, turned out to be Peter O’Donnell, the creator of Modesty Blaise.

And of course, there’s Stephen King. He created Richard Bachman to avoid flooding the market with Stephen King, and to test whether it was his talent or his name that sold books.

But Richard Bachman became more than just another name. He got a life – with a wife, and a photo and eventually, a grave stone. Stephen King wrote about a writer’s pseudonym coming to life and taking the writer over in the classic Dark Half (a particularly chilling story for writers)

And that’s why I did it – to become someone else. Michelle isn’t very successful. I hope Jenna will be. And when I think of myself as Jenna, I change subtly. Michelle is lazy, and likes to curl up with a good book. Jenna is motivated and hard working, and will write till she drops. Michelle is nice and sweet and a bit of pushover. Jenna is harder and pushy. Michelle worries her stories are too dark. Jenna likes the dark.

It’s an odd sensation, becoming someone else, but I must admit, it seems to be working. I’m writing more, and having more ideas. Maybe Jenna will get the success Michelle never could.


One response to “Trying on a different person

  1. That does sound like an interesting idea to try. I’m not sure that if I did slip into another persona, anyone would notice the change.

    I’m still trying to find my voice, so to speak, so to change names at this point might not make much of a difference, but it is something to give serious thought about.

    As for examples, you forgot Nora Roberts, who writes as JD Robb (I believe).

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