Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about National Life Writing Month. Not only do we have turkey and Nanowrimo going on in November, we also have life writing.
What the heck is life writing anyway? From my searches online, I’ve found that life writing is about autobiographies, biographies and memoirs. Really, anything having to do with sharing personal narratives through the written word.
It’s funny that I’m writing this on the heels of the release of Mark Twain’s autobiography and my decision to put it on my wish list for Christmas. I’m intrigued to read about the life of a man who’s touched so many people with his written works.
And even funnier that I write this after beginning a poem yesterday about being the daughter of immigrants. I’d been thinking of writing about my life as a child speaking Spanish at home and English everywhere else. It’s not a memoir or autobiography, but the poem is a look at my childhood as an interpreter/tutor/bilingual child.
So Freshman Writers, today’s prompt in celebration of National Life Writing Month is to write anything based on your personal life. If you’ve started a piece already, try expanding it or start a new one. For those of you who may be reluctant, try writing in a journal. Feel free to keep it for your eyes only so that you can be as open as possible.
One thing that writers tend to think about is a pen name. I saw a special about Beyonce Knowles on television the other day and heard about her “other self”, Sasha Fierce. When I first heard of it, I thought it was silly and strange. Why would a celebrity choose another name for a performance? Does Beyonce have a split personality? Self-esteem issues? Could be. Or she could be doing what some writers have done in the past.
Many writers have pen names. Great writers such as Samuel Clemens (AKA Mark Twain), the Bronte sisters, and Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) all adopted pen names.
What is it about a pen name? Does it bring out a new personality? Does the person feel more confident about writing? Maybe it was because of the time period.
The Bronte sisters may have chosen pen names because they couldn’t be published under their own names as they were women. Like some female soldiers took on men’s identities to fight in battle, the Bronte sisters may have chosen pen names for the same reason. Except the battle is in the world of writing and publishing.
Whatever the reason, some writers have elected to write under made up names. Stephen King writes under the name Richard Bachman. Maybe writers choose a pen name because they change genres. Or due to contractual obligations are limited in how many books they can publish per year.
I thought it was so interesting that a singer would choose a pseudonym. Sasha Fierce apparently is intense and exciting while Beyonce is calm and humble during interviews. Maybe the appeal to her is that she can do things as Sasha Fierce that she doesn’t feel she can do as herself. I can understand that as a writer. Having another name to use without your past history attached to it? Sounds like freedom.
So Freshman Writers, I’m taking a poll. Would you use a pen name? Why or why not?