The Pseudonym

I've always known that eventually I'd have a pen name; it's not that I don't like my name so much as a separation between two halves of me that have always existed. Initially it was just something I found funny--the fact that half of my friends were certain I'd grow up to be a science geek and the other half assumed I'd go to a liberal arts school to major in English Literature. As I grew older and chose the science path of life, I realized I couldn't give up writing; it's become more than a hobby to me.  I knew I could continue writing in my spare time, that was a no brainer. What complicated the matter came to my attention when I entered grad school.

One thing I know all too well is that we live in the age of technology. Google seems to hold the answer to all of our questions and it's the first place most of us look for our answers. Suddenly, I imagined when applying for a job the hiring manager decides to Google me only to find poems and science-fiction novels. I imagined colleagues searching for my latest research only to find short stories and essays. Then I pictured fans (at least I hope I'll have fans) of my creative writing finding my technical papers and research documents. What a mess that would be! No, I thought, techie me and literary me have to have some distinction; they have to be separate niches of the same unit. 

Which brought me to a new problem. What on earth was I going to call myself? I applaud my parents on picking my real name; naming someone is quite a daunting task. Usually, when I create my characters this is one of the hardest parts of the creation. Sometimes a name just feels right, but until then everything seems off. When I was about 12, I came up with the name Icie Brown. Perhaps I liked the way it looked when I signed it. Or maybe I was going for something urban and cool. I'm not really sure where it came from, but once I started seriously contemplating a pen name I knew that Icie Brown was not going to make the cut. I wanted something a little more meaningful, more timeless, more realistic.

I thought and thought... And thought some more.

The most common naming tradition is to name children after their parents, grandparents, or someone the parents feel are worthy of being honored. My real name was in fact given to me as in memory of a family member who passed away too young. I decided that my pen name would pay homage to someone important to me, someone who had a large influence on the person I grew up to be. Naturally, that presented more problems (there are a lot of important people to consider here)! An easy choice would be my mother--after all I wouldn't be here with out her. I love my mother, but that just didn't feel right. I still wanted something unique (and my mother's name is far from unique).  So, I decided to take it a step further and name myself after my grandmothers. What's a southern belle without a double name?

And then I remembered I actually have 3 grandmothers (my mother was raised by her aunt as well as her mother). What to do? What to do? Sometimes, hard, clean, executive choices have to be made. This was that time. I saw my biological maternal grandmother probably twice and the truth is, I don't remember anything about her. So I chose to my other 2 grandmothers to create my double name. Which still wouldn't work because--surprise!--one of my grandmothers already has a double name.

(Banging your head against a wall yet? I certainly was.)

When in doubt, get philosophical with it. My grandmothers are the starting point, the baseline. I'm not exactly like them, but more like a piece of them that is a little different--changed, if you will. Therefore, I could slightly change their names to create my own, still pay homage to them, and actually add even more meaning to this pain-in-the-neck pen name. Thus I took Iella (pronounced eye-ella)  and changed it to Eillya (pronounced like "I'll"-yuh). Then I took Mary-Ann and changed it to MarĂ­ (variant spelling of Marie).

Now all I needed was a surname. My dad once researched our family tree, the farthest he was able to trace out family tree was to a woman named Sarah Kocumba. She is my anchor.

And so I give you: Eillya-MarĂ­ Kocumba.

No comments

Post a Comment




Book Review,Food,Testimony
© 2022 all rights reserved
made with by templateszoo