Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Confession Tuesday

It’s Tuesday so it’s time to fess up. I confess my name isn’t Susan. If you read my ABC meme last week, you know my first initial is L. I also wrote that when I began surfing a decade ago, my moniker was Zawadi and had been for many years. Let me share a brief history and explanation of my pseudonyms.

Little more than a decade ago I discovered online communities and I was hooked. I am social so it’s no surprised that I gravitated towards message boards. I joined several and with message boards you have to create a username. Now you can imagine that in large communities, using your real name is unlikely since most of us have common names and all members must have unique usernames on their accounts. My favorite communities were poetry and social/culture sites. Inevitably there was always a thread (discussion) about how you chose your username and why. Despite the regularity of these discussions, I always found them interesting. I chose my daughter’s name because I think it’s beautiful, and I had little concern that someone else would have it. Her name is Swahili for gift. I didn’t have to alter my moniker for several years.

Well, Z is a teen now and doesn’t like me co-opting her name so when I began blogging, I naturally thought about a new moniker. I realize that many people use their real names now, but the writer in me likes having an alter identity which for me really isn’t alter since anyone who knows me knows that I’m equally rough around the edges in person, too. Still, using a pseudonym does feel a bit like dressing up.

I chose Susan based on a collection of short stories, entitled Black-Eyed Susans and Midnight Birds: Stories by and about Black Women edited by Mary Helen Washington. Ms. Washington taught for years in Detroit and the appeal of Susan was sealed when I read the following excerpt from a speech Ms. Washington gave:

“Three years after the uprising in Detroit that whites called a riot and blacks called a rebellion, I became part of the small band of scholars who, in 1970, inaugurated the first Black Studies program at the University of Detroit.”

One activist, one outspoken black woman identifying with another. I realize the anthology is Black-Eyed Susan. Okay, I like the idea of the sturdy plant; I also like crooner, Al Jarreau’s Susan, and I definitely have an affinity for women like Ms. Washington. So, call me, Susan.

It’s funny, when someone addresses me by my real name I have to remember, Oh yeah, that’s me.

Have you belonged to online communities where you used a moniker? What was your name and why did you choose it? Have you ever written under a penname?

To read more confessions, check in with January at Poet Mom.


Anonymous said...

Lulu is not my real name, but it is what my family has been calling me since I was about 8 years old. When my mom married my step-dad, who still likes to torment me in a loving way, he said that since he was new to the family we all had to change our names (I'm not sure how that's logical, I guess since I wasn't changing my last name like my mom was? He's so weird!). He proposed that my new name be Mavis McGillicuddy. Um, yeah.

So, of course, I protested. He said fine, but we had to come up with a new nickname. I happened to have a huge crush on this guy named Lou. I was 8 and he was 25. It was destined to fail.

But somehow, that crush turned into my lifelong nickname Lulu. I joined a poetry message board in 2000 and I was Lulu there, until someone started calling me Lulu Bella a year or so later. Now lulu_bella is everything and anything I sign up for online. I started going by Lu (going back to my roots!) soon after, because it's short and sweet.

There you go! The story of my online & IRL nickname :) I'm in my 20s and my parents still call me Lulu.

susan said...

Cool story, Lulu. Thanks for weighing in.

January said...

January is my real name. *smile*

Thanks for the story of Susan. I like the plant, and I enjoyed reading a bit of your history (or her-story).

Christine S. Morehouse said...

Hi Susan,

I love this confession. When I started surfing and entered the chat, blogging and forums about eight years ago I went with moniques like Irishskye, Irishrose.

To understand would be for me to explain my ADORATION for the Emerald Isle, but that would be a blog in its self. Let's just say that you can always catch me crying when I see the rolling green hills of Ireland on a PBS special.

My motto: Live and die in Ireland, but that doesn't even scratch the surface of how I feel about the people, legacy, culture and etc.
I'm IRISH and love every ounce of green blood flowing through my veins.

As to when I write, I use my first name for my blogs because I feel this inate NEED for people to try and get to know the real me.

Thanks for setting the light under the bush to set not only my brain to thinking but my fingers to expressing what I felt today.

Thinking Aloud said...

Love the post and love the name. Thanks for filling us in on its origins.
I am "Thinking Aloud" because I can;t help but saying what is on my mind. This is another residual of growing up in NYC.

Dorla Moorehouse said...

This is not my real name. It is an amalgamation of my grandmother's names (paternal grandmother's first name and maternal grandmother's maiden last name). This is in part to pay tribute to two women who shaped me as a person and writer, but did not have the opportunity to develop their own creative talents. It is also in part because I am shy and feel better publishing under a pseudonym.

For my freelance nonfiction, articles, and business writing, I use my real name, but I like to publish my creative work under this name.

rallentanda said...

Black eyed susan is the name of a dainty orange flower with a black centre.Hardy but pretty and a favourite in Australian gardens.The name was the reason I was drawn to this site thinking it was about plants .
My name Rallentanda is derived from rallentando, a musical expression,meaning gradually getting slower which
is a fairly apt description of me.

Sassy Brit said...


Well, obviously I am not really Sassy Brit - the name came around when I started out my blog and I just wanted something appropriate. It kind of grew out of me, a Brit, mingling with Americans :) We were, and still are, forever discussing the differences in our culture and language. :)

I think some may have even called me bossy at one time or another! :D

After all this time "Sassy Brit" feels as part of me as my real name does. My real name isn't a secret, it's out there - I just keep my reviews under my Sassy Brit pseudonym because I've done it for so long.

I do make the postwoman laugh though, when I sometimes get books sent to Sassy Brit.


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