nom de Plume

I’ve been thinking about my “name issue” for a few months,wondering how to deal with it, and if I should write a post about it. I’m home from work today, sick, and feeling terrible. So, of course, it seems like the perfect time to address the issue. Who am I – why do I have so many names – and which name should be on my Facebook Profile?

I’ve been a published writer in some form or fashion for the past 18 years. I started writing during my young “hate the world and everyone in it” period that I think most writer’s go through. My writing was good, but often filled with a violent aspect or harsh edge that sometimes involved living family members (the dead ones didn’t worry me so much). I decided to write under a nom de Plume (pseudonym, or Pen Name) during this time to avoid accidentally hurting or embarrassing family, friends, etc. that might read the work and recognize it’s source.

I wrote under the pseudonym, Orianna Tierney, for the first year or two. It was a good experience that allowed me to write in a free, unrestricted manner without self-censorship. I believe a pseudonym was necessary for me to actually step outside self-censorship and write honestly during this time. And, I remain an advocate of using a pseudonym as a means of reaching into your deepest, darkest self to find the honesty for the page. I still believe my writing and growth as a writer are better because I initially chose to write under an un-recognizable name.  My first intense, multilayered works were written and published during my “Orianna” period.

I was writing daily after the Orianna years and my writing quickly grew along with me as a person. The works, primarily poetry and essays at this time, started to grow and change. I understood the development of technique and the expanding substance of my work. The work became more serious and important to me as did the name under which I wrote. I adopted Marissa as my pseudonym in 1995. It was a creative re-visioning of my true first name, Margaret, and my true last name of Owen. So, Marissa Owen evolved as a nom de Plume that felt more real than my real name sometimes. (As an aside, I often contemplated legally changing my first name to Marissa, as I much prefer it, but decided to keep it due to family connections and memories.)

Writing as Marissa felt totally natural, and I came to see the writer side of me as Marissa. Most of my first, truly important publications were under this name. It was the name my writer and poet friends knew, and the one I went by with my editors. And, it was the name used for all my literary efforts. So, in an age before technology, living as a divorced mother and a writer, life was going pretty good and I was content as Marissa.

Then, three years later, in 1998, I met and decided to marry my current husband. It was my first real  “problem” with the name, but this time is was about my last name rather than my first. It took a lot of soul-searching to take my new husbands last name. I went through several months of arguing with myself on whether, and if so, how, to integrate last names. I debated on the, then popular, dash-hyphenating the two last names. After all, my children both had the last name Owen, and all my writing was published under the name Owen. In short, it was a pain-in-the-ass decision.

Eventually I made the decision -love and my desire to always be moving forward won the day. I became Colleen Mullins in real life and Marissa Mullins in my writing circles and and on paper. I had reached the place of perfection, no need to change pseudonyms ever again … and then, ten years later, along came Facebook.

I was introduced to Facebook in 2008. Suddenly, I was pulling my maiden name of Steadman out of the closet and dusting it off. How else would childhood schoolmates be able to find me? It was amazingly strange when I set up an account with my maiden name in the middle – I gave that name up at the age of 14 and never expected to use it again. Again, a very surreal experience.

Many people from school, family members, and old friends have found me on Facebook. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’m very happy to be “reunited” with so many people. BUT, in the last 4 years there have been some changes that lead me to question my use of Name on Facebook. My writings (those submitted for publication in hard-copy and those on the web) are under Marissa. I’ve become addicted to Twitter and am part of a large literary group there under the name Marissa. So, what name is it to be?

Since I would answer to the call of Marissa as quickly as I would answer to the call of Colleen, and since the greater part of me at present identifies with Marissa over Margaret and would never use my maiden name anywhere other than Facebook…

I’ve decided to combine the two, while combining my world of old friends and my current world of writing and life in the automotive realm, it just seems logical for me to go by Marissa Colleen Mullins on Facebook and link all my accounts! There, it’s done! My Facebook is name updated and now you know why! Blessings to everyone – regardless of by which name you know me!~


~What about you? Do you write under a pseudonym? Have you ever thought about it?

~Are your Facebook and Twitter linked? What do you think of Social Media?

~Any amazing stories of Facebook or Twitter out there? Something amazing or uncommon?

~Keep Writing! 

 

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3 thoughts on “nom de Plume

  1. I am not a writer, but an artist/designer and I decided when I created my blog to use my tag name – similar idea to a pseudonym but from graffiti subculture. I really want there to be a divide between my actual life and that which I share freely across the web. Once in a while I get an egotistical pang when I see my tag name and its meta data reference to my work online but then I remember it’s nice to have some privacy in an increasingly publicized world.

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  2. I’ve tried to find you on Facebook, but no luck so far even with the name Marissa Colleen Mullins I just read about … I like your first pseudonym- Orianna- beautiful name! I have only one name – Blaga :), whatever I write is under that name and if someone doesn’t like the emotions and the words to my name, well … too bad, because this is all I got 🙂 Thanks for this post Marissa!

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