Saturday, July 29, 2006

Step 1: The Pseudonym

Almost every girl goes through a stage where she doodles names on her notebooks. Sometimes, she writes her name. Sometimes, she writes the name of a boy she likes. Sometimes, she writes her first name with his last name. She may or may not add the title "Mrs."

I want to be clear: I was never that girl.

I never dotted my "i"s with hearts, or even puffy circles. I never fantasized about wedding gowns. I never dreamt of being "Mrs. Myfirstname Cuteboylastname".

The names I doodled on my notebook were all pseudonyms. I never planned to be a Mrs, but I always planned to be a writer. I thought writers were the coolest people on the planet because, not only did they write books, they got to do so under any name they wanted to. They had secret identities without all the hassle and bother of having to fight crime.

Most girls my age idolized Janet Jackson or Sandra Day O'Connor, but my idols were Jackie Collins and Dame Barbara Cartland. I didn't want to be famous, revered, or even respected. I just wanted to see my penname in inch-high red letters, splashed across a leopard-print background.

I wanted an author's photo that featured me, my jewelry, my big hair, and my pampered lapdog somewhere on the grounds of my atrociously decorated mansion. I had it all planned in my imagination: the hair (disheveled brown curls, streaked with gold), the jewelry (emeralds and tanzanite set in platinum), the lapdogs (1 white toy poodle - dyed hot pink, 1 black toy poodle) and the mansion (like Hearst Castle, but bigger, and with an Egyptian motif). The only thing I never could quite figure out was the pseudonym.

I've been keeping a list of cool names both fictional & pseudonymous. Here's a sample:

  1. Cleopatra Jones
  2. Pauline Reage
  3. Dashiell Hammet
  4. Marilyn Monroe
  5. Mae West
  6. Mark Twain
  7. Al B. Sure
  8. Anita Loos
  9. Foxy Brown
  10. Iceberg Slim
With so many possibilities, it was tough to chose a pseudonym. I decided to opt for a name with meaningful initials that would encapsulate the spirit of my writing.

And so I am,

Yours Truly,

Bettie Sharpe