Sunday, February 17, 2008

What's in a Name? Or: Name Matters

Cleo the Egyptian dog

What does a basenji dog have to do with names? Because, as you may be able to tell from this photo, this dog looks like Nefertiti. But is not named that perfect name for a dog whose breed has been found mummified in ancient Egyptian tombs for one reason: the nickname "Titi." Ugh.

My good friend Kathy at Well Placed Words just blogged about "What Words Convey" and that's a perfect segue into this post. Names matter.

Some of you may have noticed that I am now using my full name in my profile, Conda V. Douglas, instead of just plain Conda. This wasn't changed without some thought and consideration. Conda is fairly unique, so why change it?

First, I'm a published writer. If you google my entire name, more of my published writings come up.
Second, Conda isn't as unique as you would think. Google Conda alone and there's lots of Condas out there, including the town my mother was named after.
There's a Cesar Conda that's an writer of economics.
Third, why Conda V. Douglas? My mother, Conda E., edited a cookbook that was published over 35 years ago but that is still popular. While I'm proud of her accomplishment, I don't want agents and publishers wondering just how elderly I am...

I hesitated for quite a while before using my full name. Friend bloggers didn't help: Kathy of Well Placed Words uses her first and last name, as does Jim of The Truth about Lies and David of Pics and Poems. But Beth of Beth's Adventures only uses her first name and Nancy of Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life delineates herself from other Nancy's by being Nancy P. Still others such as the Muse of Inspired Day by Day, don't use real names at all.

Perhaps this is tied to what the blog is about, and the more personal blogs do not need full names, whereas the more general blogs want the full names?

Readers, what name did you use on your blog? And why? What do you think about using a full name? Upside? Downside?


Anonymous said...

I was such a newbie when I started, I never thought of using a nickname or alias. My email address is first intial last name, because - well, I'm not very creative. (Hence my hatred of thinking of titles for my books.) Sometimes I wonder if I'm too open with my name but then again, I'm also pretty naive. I think there are lots of other, more important people in the world for the bad guys to harrass. And once I do enter the ranks of the published, I can only hope the ability to find me on Google, etc. will be helpful.

Good question, though, Conda! I'll be interested to read other responses.

Conda Douglas said...

I'm a newbie too, Beth. And yes, at first it was only my first name for security reasons or fears, rather. Then I realized my name is already on the Net--and I want people to be able to find me in all my Net presence.

Besides, I'm extremely cautious with passwords and important information. No pet names in passwords, no specifics on my life, and no giving out social security number, etc.

Jim Murdoch said...

I have mixed feelings about the use of pseudonyms. Writers have been using them for years for loads of different reasons. What annoys me about some on the web is that they are so cumbersome. One of the sites I visit is The Unskilled Poet but I have no idea of age or gender. I know they live in London but that's it. When I want to refer to them I end up using 'Unskilled' which doesn't really work for me. I'd be far happier with a first name. It could even be a false one but I'd feel more comfortable with a proper name.

Dave King said...

I didn't consider using a pseudonym when I started, and I am now pleased I did not. But when I started to post it did seem to me that everyone else was using one. I thought I had committed some sort of faux pas. I still have not fully resolved how to sign myself, however: do I feel more comfortable with Dave or the red letter day name David? I guess basically I am not comfortable with my name, but it is my name and I have no desire to use another.

Conda Douglas said...

Yes, Jim and Dave, when I first starting blogging six months ago, I noticed all the pseudonyms too. Which is another reason I only used my first name. But as a writer, I got to thinking, why? And why use a pseudonym? If you're a writer, don't you want people to google you and find out about where you've been published?

Answers, anyone?

Jim Murdoch said...

You are assuming that the person has been published before or that they have been published using their real name. I've always thought the main reason for a pseudonym was because your parents hadn't blessed you with an especially marketable name.

Conda Douglas said...

Good points, Jim. Especially the second point--if your name is bland and generic or so convoluted as to be difficult to remember then a pseudonym makes sense.

And of course, if you are known for a certain genre of writing and have written something else in a completely different genre then--you usually write YA and you've written erotica, for example. Or maybe you've just written erotica and don't want to be spammed with those delightful offers.

The Muse said...

Great post! Conda, I teetered with using my real name for a long time. At this point I don't use it because I have an EX that stalked me for years--long story. In a nutshell, we had a child together, he chose to be uninvolved as far as support and care goes, and involved where aggression comes in.

I found him on myspace and discovered that he is still the same as he was. For the protection of my daughter, I am undercover.

Thanks to a few "friends" he discovered my new last name, so I couldn't even use it. I have to live cloaked so he won't discover my whereabouts. So far, I've done well remaining hidden.

The downside is the publishing aspect. Credibility comes into play too. I guess I'm stuck with just having the cake rather than eating it.

The upside, I know my daughter is safe.

I may come out of the closet should I hit the big one and can afford personal security guards. Otherwise I'll remain anonmynous until she is off on her own and can hopefully make wise decisions where he's concerned.

I will give you this, my blog ID name is my last name: Muse. Spelled differently, of course.

Conda Douglas said...

Urgh, Muse, that's another excellent reason, although disturbing, to not use your real name. And of course, for you, the upside way outweighs the downside.

Here's hoping that your daughter and you remain safe.

Swubird said...

Hello Conda. I got onto to your trail from Inspired Day by Day. Of course, the first post I read had to do with names: real, or unreal? It's a good question. I'm a little shy about sending my real name out there into cyberspace with no idea who will be looking at it. But on the other hand, I know that I am only one of billions of other bloggers and site operators in the universe. Still, I use my pseudo name, Swubird. I'm not willing to give up the origin of my name just yet, because that will be the topic of a future post.

Loved your site. We can always use the advice of experts like you to ease our writing pains and help us get over our insecurities.

Have a nice day, and stop by and see me sometime.

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, swubird, for your comments. And actually having an odd moniker like swubird makes your blog easier to find--which I've visited and will visit again (it's a lot of fun).

Cornish Dreamer said...

A good topic to write about. There are so many positives and negatives of using your real name on the internet.

I'm not published (winning one competition doesn't really count) so, after having an experience with a cyberstalker, I decided it would be easier to use an pseudonym. Whether this will or will not work out in the future, I do not know. Besides, my real name is rather mundane and, now that I'm hitched, my double-barrelled surname is simply too long (something I only discovered when my new debit card arrived in the post with some of the letters missing! Sad but true).

Conda Douglas said...

Hm, cyberstalkers, scary.

So it seems that there are, unfortunately, many pros and cons to the issue. And of course, it'll change (probably in about 5 minutes or so) as the Internet evolves.