Monthly Archives: December 2011

What’s In A Name?

What’s in a name? Is there a real difference between a pen name and a real name? Why do we even choose pen names?

I know my reasons for choosing a pen name are few. First, I have a very unique first name. Unfortunately, that first name tends to make people think of 5 year old boys. Second, I want to keep my last name a secret. I’d prefer not to be flooded by spam or hate mail, at least not to my private address. Silly reasons, I’m sure, but still reasons. So, I settled on S. G. Ricketts. There was something professional to it, and it is very much neutral on the gender aspect. I like to throw a little mystery into the mix. (It may have helped that most of my favorite authors had initials in their pen names: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, J. K. Rowling, R. Lynn… Need I go on?) Stevie Grace or Stevie Lastname would have been perfectly fine, but those two points stuck with me.

On top of that, I have a certain pride for my mother’s maiden name. I carry it with me as a middle name, a gesture of respect from her to her parents who had no boys to carry on the name. That to me seems incredibly noble. My siblings and I are the last bearers of the name Ricketts from that family tree. Because I love all things dramatic, it seemed only appropriate for my pen name to end with Ricketts. Then, when I’m gone it will continue to live on. A person only lasts for 80 years. A story lasts for centuries.

If you have a pen name, what is it and what’s the story behind it? If you don’t, was there any particular reason you chose to keep your true name?


Do You Understand “Perceived Reality?”

Christmas: a time of celebration and joy. It was fantastic this year, so much calmer than last year’s hectic dashes across Texas.

Yet again, though, I was faced with one of the most difficult things about writing. I am very open in my pieces about my feelings and impressions. I firmly believe that a writer should never change what they want to write just for someone else. That belief has gotten me in deep water and I’m not sure whether I’m treading or sinking.

Some of my stories on BookRix (excluding the longer pieces) and most of Freedom From Chains contain bits of my life. I won’t take them down and I won’t deny the way I felt when I wrote them, because I’m tired of people telling me that what I felt wasn’t real. A perceived reality is still a reality, so they remain. I published Freedom knowing that many people in my family would either be upset or would use it against each other for the simple fact that they were part of my past.

I am frustrated. So, so frustrated… I almost want to put a tagline on each of them saying, “This is the writer’s interpretation of events” but that is such a petty thing to do. There are about 20 people who would take this the wring way and most of them haven’t given me a second glance. Only a few are, and I refuse to cater to a few for a book that should be allowed to stand on it’s own. It is a work of art. In the same way that I refuse to skip over the sex parts in my books because my mother will read them, I refuse to censor my impressions because my family and close friends will read them.

At the same time, I find it rather adolescent for family or friends to nit-pick through those pieces searching for dirt on either myself or my parents. While most of you do not know me personally and will never meet my parents, know this: they are amazing. I don’t think another set of parents could have done a better job. I am healthy, smart, and passionate about things in life because of the values and lessons they taught me. I have skills most of my friends and co-workers lack because of their parenting. I was not an easy child, and they did a great job. I have short stories written about the love I have for both of my parents (although those are mysteriously forgotten). For someone to look at my perceptions of the world seen through a teenager’s mind and judge myself or my family is beyond me. On top of that, my struggles are out there to give solace and encouragement to others. To dig through those pieces just to point out my flawed ideology is hurtful. Mistakes are mistakes. Choices are choices. Consequences happen, but they do not define us. Our attitudes and the decisions after do define us.

Life is life. Every person has a point where they struggle to find themselves, and often during that time they fall and make mistakes. It’s part of growing up. I chose to write during that time, and it kept me grounded while I waded through insecurity and loneliness.

So please, if you’re close friends or family and you’re reading any of my more personal writings, remember that it is filtered through my perceptions and mine alone. Do not blame anyone for what I write and do not judge me for my honesty. Enjoy the piece and stop to think. Maybe you’re reacting not because Stevie has written something scandalous. Maybe you’re reacting because you’ve felt those same feelings of fear or wonder or longing or emptiness. Look past the time frame of high school or college and see the universality of it. I didn’t write these to throw heaping coals on my family or to air my dirty laundry. I wrote these because if I felt it as a person, someone else did, too. Note the word “feel.” It’s all relative.

If you’re a writer, do you struggle with this, too? Or do you stay away from anything liable to blow up in your face? If you’re a reader, do you appreciate honesty or find it easier not to know the writer? I’m not even sure someone I know personally can read anything I’ve written impartially. What a depressing thought.

My apologies for a much more heated post than I usually put up, but this has been bothering me for a while. I sincerely hope I am the only writer struggling with this, because it almost makes me want to keep thoughts to myself. Almost.

Writers: Are You Emo or Nosy?