Friday, 23 July 2010

Another reason for Pseudonyms

I've covered the basic reasons for using a pseudonym before (genre confusion, privacy, shelf position), but recently I encountered one I had not considered. I was talking to a professional contact about some work, when he asked what I'd been doing with myself for the last few months.

"I've been working on a book deal," I replied.
"Oh, excellent! You're publishing a book on [professional area of expertise]! Put me down for one."
"No, it was a novel." Even down the telephone, the suddenly screech of brakes and mental reverse was obvious. After a bit of stammering from him, I mercifully changed the subject. And then people wonder why I don't discuss my interests outside work...

Once the work issue was done, we discussed his reaction, why it wasn't unexpected, and he gave permission to blog about it as long as he was not named. The problem is that people in my job aren't supposed to be creative. I've already had one person tell me that there should be no problems with signing a contract that handed over rights to everything I created during the time I was working with company X (inside or outside working hours), because people in my role "didn't create things". That contract remained unsigned.

Professional stereotyping is such an interesting thing to encounter, if you define "interesting" as limiting, irritating, inaccurate and a cause of team conflict. One of the best examples I encountered in one of my consultations was the reaction of a design team when one of the tech support girls had her artwork selected for an exhibition. Having to take most of a department in hand for seething jealousy issues was not enjoyable, and I don't particularly want that attitude aimed at me.

In general however, the pen name is to try to avoid the disbelieving comments: "But you do X! How can you write a novel?"

One word at a time, just like anyone else.

1 comment:

  1. Does this mean you might consider writing in your area of expertise as well as novels?