Ever since I was a kid, I knew my name wasn’t one of a kind. Though my parents gave me the name C____ because they loved the meaning, there were always other C____s, whether at school, at church, or at work. And I was never known as just C____, but as “the other C____.” One of my close friends, whom I’ve known since the third grade, shares my name. She was more popular, more outgoing, overall, she had more friends. I, on the other hand, was always more shy, quiet, introverted in every way. So I got used to being referred to as “the other C____.” And when anyone called for C____, I eventually stopped turning my head because I knew they weren’t talking to me.
Things still haven’t changed, as at my first real job, I discovered I’d be working alongside another C____. To make sure things didn’t get confusing, people called her C____, and they shortened my name to a nickname I have never ever liked.
But this post isn’t really supposed to be about my complaints regarding my oh-so-very-common name. This post is about why I love one of a kind names and pseudonyms, no matter how crazy they sound. Celebrities have named their kids all sorts of interesting names. My personal favorite is Apple, the name of Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter. Some names are more scarring, such as Tu Morrow, or Ima Pigg. I can’t say I don’t sympathize with those kids, but at least they have the comfort in knowing they have unique names.
Because I have such a common name, I knew the moment I decided to become an author that I needed a pen name. An interesting name that included a part of my real name but also included what I wanted to be. Something fantastical, romantic, adventurous. Something that meant something cool or perhaps even had a hidden meaning.
My first pen name was Aurora Amethyst Rose, quite a mouthful, but very fantasy/storybookish. Then I decided I needed a more realistic sounding name for my non-fantasy stories. Calina Fonali was born. She had my initials, and when I looked up the meaning of Calina, I found that it means tree. Trees are interesting in that they are alive, but they never talk. Oh, the stories they must hear, the sights and sounds they must witness. All by observing the people that coexist on the same earth, who sit under the shade of their arms, lifted in prayer. Who lean on their comforting trunks to seek rest. Who kiss and break up and cry and shout, believing they are in private.
And I wanted to be like a tree. Not only do trees see everything; they are like writers, or narrators, starting with one seed, and then branching out as more and more ideas sprout forth from her head, until she is able to offer comfort and rest to a nest of baby birds, to a sleepy squirrel, to a weary traveler. Just as a story where good conquers evil and love wins can offer the weary-minded a place to forget their troubles just for a moment as they seek to escape reality.
Now after Calina Fonali, I came up with one more pen name. Chrysmelite Ferne was born in my mind as a character from a story I wrote, my favorite character out of everyone who lives in my mind. She was spunky, smart, unafraid to speak her mind. Everything, it seemed, that I wasn’t. And when I wrote about her, I found myself admiring this girl. She was what I wanted to be, what I strived to become.
But then my mother reminded me that Chrysmelite was a part of me. I invented her, and therefore, all her qualities were within me. I just had to have the courage to bring her out of myself in the real world instead of just on paper.
This is something I’m still striving for as of now, but my mother is right. I have Aurora Amethyst Rose and Calina Fonali and Chrysmelite Ferne inside of me. Therefore, I am not just “the other C____.”
This does not, by any means, change my preference for creative pseudonyms and unique names. If I ever have kids, beware. One of them might just be named something like Starlight Tigerlily or Phire Autumnbell.