Pen names

Nathan Bransford recently posted about pen names, recommending that unless the reasons are compelling, there is no reason to make use of a pseudonym. 

While I tend to agree, I can’t help but think that Mark Twain is so much better than Samuel Clemens.  And so apropos.

And Lemony Snicket is much more fun than Daniel Handler. If you’ve ever listened to Daniel Handler speak, you know that he’s much more of a Lemony Snicket than a Daniel Handler anyway. 

But in general, it would seem to me that your own name should be just fine. 

Oddly enough, I have been asked more than once if my name, Matthew Dicks, is a pseudonym.  My response is always the same: 

Of all the possible names that I could have chosen, do you think that I would’ve chosen the last name Dicks?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about my name.  With a name like Dicks, you can’t help but be tough.  You truly come to believe that sticks and stone will break your bones but names will never hurt you. 

You also learn that when you punch someone between the eyes, they are less likely to get up.

Punch someone in the mouth and you cut your knuckles on their teeth and put the taste of blood in their mouth.  Not good. 

Still, even when accompanied by these valuable lessons, Dicks wasn’t the easiest name with which to grow up.  Not only was it a source of amusement for many of my classmates, but it tends to limit the choices that one has when choosing your future child’s name.  Without going into specifics, just imagine all the first names that do not work with my last name.  And for every name you can think of, I have three more, and most are probably more amusing than yours. 

The problems don’t end there.  My wife, whose maiden name was Green, didn’t really have the option to hyphenate when we married, lest she become Elysha Green-Dicks. 

It’s a name that creates many difficult scenarios.  

Of course, I also have an uncle and a great uncle named Harold, and both go by the name Harry Dicks. 

Harry Dicks.  Think about it. 

And my father’s name is Leslie, and everyone calls him Les Dicks.

So I guess the idea of bad naming combinations didn’t occur to my grandparents.

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2 Responses to Pen names

  1. Barbara Green says:

    That’s so funny – really! That it didn’t seem to occur to them – BUT MAYBE IT DID! Maybe they just had a really mean sense of humor. But Clara Dicks – it just sings as does Elysha Dicks! I’ve gotten used to the name and wouldn’t think that it should be any other. People always say to me “that’s DIX, right” – “NO D I C K S!” – no comment at their end! Gotta sell the book! It’s a great name – you’re a great guy! Perhaps that is what made you just who you are! WHAT’S IN A NAME?

  2. Considering my sense of humor, it’s entirely possible that my grandparents were being cruel to their children when naming them.

    And since they had six kids, maybe they figured that four of them would receive reasonable names (Sheila, Diane, Brian and Neil) and two would be named for their amusement (Leslie and Harry).

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