The Joy of Pseudonyms

I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of pseudonyms. They’re the modern equivalent of the secret identity, and if there’s one ploy I am fond of, it is the secret identity.

Many and varied are the pseudonyms I have fancied using, but (alas!) I can’t write fast enough to furnish them all with material; and in any case there’s little sense building up multiple reputations where one would do. And since I eventually realized that not everything I dream of writing would sit well under the name of Sinistra Inksteyne, I revealed my own, rather prosaic identity. Sinistra is a much less prosaic identity: she’s the sort of person who’d wear a hat like this:

Tricornowithout giving it a second thought, black lace streamers and all.

My everyday identity may have been revealed, but the urge to create pseudonyms has not abated. Dormant for some time, it sprang anew to life when I discovered (thanks to Wikipedia) that there have been no less than four baronets of Great Britain rejoicing under the name of Page-Turner. I kid you not, Page-Turner. Sirs Gregory, Gregory Osborne, Edward George Thomas and Edward Henry.

And to my knowledge, not one of them attempted to become a best-selling novelist, or indeed a writer of any stripe. This is a scandalous waste of a name that screams best-seller in every stroke. Unfortunately what the authorities are pleased to call the 1733 creation still has issue, which is a complicated way of saying that while the name is no longer in use, someone’s still got dibs on it. (Sir John Dryden, at present.)

Excuse me while I change my hat for a cap with black ribbons in token of my sorrow at opportunities lost. Russel lady book 1
Thank you. Now then! Not being the kind of person who will recommend to others advice which she will not take herself, I had a stab at the pen-name generator I recommended to you earlier this week. Most of the fields I was able to fill in without too much trouble (a positive adjective took me some time, and the make of my first car was flatly impossible) and the generator promptly presented me with a bewildering array of options, helpfully sorted by genre.

Some were pretty reasonable: D.C. Makepeace (general fiction), for example, or D.C. Dominics (fantasy). Even Crispin Makers isn’t too bad, if you don’t object to the name of Crispin. Then there were the positively strange: Dequorah C. Makarios (science fiction) or D.C. Mazazioz (ditto).

D.C. Derringer-Blackios (crime) has something of a ring about it, but I positively and flatly refuse to call myself Dagbjot Jaguar Makarios (fantasy). For one thing, I can’t pronounce it, and for another, I should never be able to look myself in the face again. I can’t anyway, since it’s a physical impossibility, but even if I could, I shouldn’t. The embarrassment would be too much to be borne by living flesh. I should have to veil my face at all times like Medusa, lest I inadvertently catch my own eye and turn myself to stone.

Bronze Statuette of a Veiled and Masked Dancer 4
But worse was to come. Deb Carolyn Wittykins sounds like the kind of person who knits toilet-roll cozies in the shape of kittens and speaks to everyone as though they were five years old. Bad. But not so bad as  – can I even bring myself to mention it? Alas, in the interests of honesty, I fear I must. Let us have it out at once and let the subject drop forever. But I must plead with you, my readers, for the good of mankind: if I ever start publishing romances under the name of Debs-Anne Wittyflower, please hunt me down and kill me. It’s the only thing to be done.

Nom de Plume

nom de plume
Supposing you were to assume a nom de plume (or nom de whatever it is you don’t want to be caught doing under your personal name). What would it be?

Try this generator if you’re stuck for ideas, and be sure to share the cream of the crop in the comments!

The Eccentric Ethic & Æsthetic

My name is Deborah Makarios.

I’ve been blogging for the last 14 months as Sinistra Inksteyne, but eventually (dawn breaks over Marblehead, New Zealand) I realised there was little point in building an online reputation for an alter ego whose name does not appear on any other work. So Sinistra Inksteyne will have to content herself with being a URL from now on.

As Francis Bacon observed, great changes are easier than small ones, so I didn’t stop with the name. This new picture isn’t me, but it might as well be (I’m working on developing the smiley wrinkles):


As I’ve mentioned before, this blog started as a way of keeping me accountable for my procrastination, but it no longer serves that purpose. Because I am now a perfect paragon of proactivity and – ha, no, sorry, couldn’t keep a straight face. But I’m not as bad as I used to be, not by a long shot, and there’s only so much talking about it that can be done before people stop procrastinating and get right on to clubbing you over the head with a thesaurus to make you shut up.

So I thought about what I wanted to do with this blog, and I decided that I just wanted to be myself – that is, to champion the cause of weirdness, oddity and eccentricity. I believe that people are individually created by God, which means that there is no standard-issue to vary from. To put it another way, ‘normal’ is not a Christian concept.
I have a sneaking suspicion that an awful lot of apparent ‘normality’ is due to peer pressure. People feel they have to fit one of a limited selection of moulds or they will be ostracized – and they may be right about this. But is it worth the price you pay?

A limited selection of moulds.

It is a sad fact of human nature that if we are surrounded by one worldview, it requires a lot of effort to not succumb to it. As the letter to the Romans says, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.” (Now there’s a nauseating thought.) But resistance is hard. It is less hard when there are more of you. Enter the internet.

I am weird. I freely admit it. I am odd. I have never been and never will be cool. And I’m fine with that. If that’s the price I have to pay for not having to chop off the bits of me that don’t fit (like some Ugly Stepsister of the soul) then please, put it on my tab.

And so I give you (fanfare please…)

(…thank you)
the Eccentric Ethic & Æsthetic!

Eccentric: The Oxford Dictionaries’ definition includes the phrase “unconventional and slightly strange” for both adjective and noun.
If my picture doesn’t appear in the dictionary under the word ‘eccentric’ by the time I die, I shall have Unconventional and slightly strange graved (hur hur) on my tombstone. The oddity is partly, in my case, the result of being raised in a mixture of cultures, but one can only blame one’s upbringing for so much.

Ethic: One of my main reasons for not following the mainstream is because I follow Christ, and the two diverge widely. So truth is important to me. (Truth is my middle name – really…) Justice is important. Sustainability is important. Compassion, creativity and joy are important. Conformity – not important.

Æsthetic: Clothing sends a message. In my case, that message is “unconventional and slightly strange”. I find it lowers expectations that having the physical characteristics of the majority ethnic group means I have the same culture and value system. My personal appearance signposts my differentness – an early warning system, if you like. And it’s more fun wearing whatever I like anyway. I wish everyone felt freer to wear what best expresses who they are inside. Visual identity is a fascinating thing.

To sum up: this is a place for me to have fun being my eccentric self, and a place where others will hopefully feel encouraged to be their eccentric selves – particularly if they share some of the same eccentricities. As CS Lewis wrote: “Friendship is born at that moment when one man [/woman/small furry creature from Alpha Centauri] says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…””