I see a few of the previous #romanceclass articles featured confessions. So here is mine: I’m using a pen name.
That won’t come off as a shock, I am sure, since I’ve been fairly open about it. When I first decided to venture into self-publishing, the next decision to make wasn’t even if I was going to use a pen name, but what pen name to use.
I told myself I was doing it to separate my identities. I wanted my author self to be in this box, while the rest of me—the corporate girl, the teacher—to be in this box. Separate and distinct. Organized. I wanted Google searches for my real given name—and I know HR people at the very least do this—to pull up results linking to my daily 9-to-5 life, and just that. It was done to prevent confusion. To maintain some semblance of order.
But when I am being honest, I know I did it because I wasn’t ready to be found out as writer, and a writer of romance.
Growing up, my parents surrounded me with books and not Barbies, but much as they didn’t mind the fiction, they did push the Math and Science books toward me with more urgency. For the most part their efforts worked, if my academic and present career would show. But I also had my Sweet Valley Highs, and my Unicorn Clubs, and eventually Sophie Kinsellas and Meg Cabots. And as early as elementary school, reading romance wasn’t enough. My imagination was wider than that. So I wrote romance in notebooks with a ballpoint pen, about girls and boys and kisses.
I hid and protected these notebooks with my life. I figured my parents would be shocked if they knew. I was groomed to work in a cubicle, in a building with an elevator. There was no space for writing about kisses there. But beyond that anxiety was another, more pressing one. One that was best encapsulated by every other writer’s favorite question—is this story about you?
I wrote my first New Adult romance novella Songs of Our Breakup without a thought of publishing it, just because the story was there in my head and it wanted out. And yes, because the process of writing it gave me kilig and feels. It’s about a girl in a band fresh out of the dissolution of a seven-year relationship, and her Japanese celebrity friend who was there for her when she was picking up the pieces of her broken heart. When it was finished, and I’d decided to publish it, I feared that ultimate question.
“Is this story about you?”
Read the rest of the article on Bookbed here <3