|by Jack Dorsey in Flickr|
Names are funny things. Parents bestowing names on their children are influenced by culture, both societal and popular culture. For instance, if your name is Fatima, you’re probably of Middle Eastern descent. But if your name is Arya or Khaleesi, your parents were probably fans of “Game of Thrones”.
Names come and go in popularity. I mean, how many Jennifers do you know? Between 1970 and 1984, Jennifer was the number one girl’s name in the U.S. and Canada. When I was growing up in the sixties and seventies, I knew a plethora of Debbies, Lindas, and Pattys. Though a lot of parents say they want to give their child a unique name, or at least a unique spelling of their name, most follow trends pretty closely.
I was never a big fan of my given name. I mean my real name rather than my pen name. It was one of those popular 1950s names that was everywhere when I was growing up, but has totally dropped off the radar for new baby girls. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons I took a pen name when I started writing. I wanted something different. Unfortunately, I’ve found Jana isn’t as different as I thought. I’ve discovered an obstetrician in Chicago named Jana Richards. People often call me Jane or Jan. And there are a lot of writers with those names. Rather than standing out, I’m one of many.
I’m okay with the name I’ve chosen, but sometimes I wish I would have picked something splashier. At one time, I joked semi-seriously, that if I ever used a pen name I would name myself after the two cats we had at the time, Princess Samantha and Blackie. I would henceforth be known as Samantha Black. I still think it has a ring to it.
I wonder sometimes if I just should have stuck with my given name. But like I said, it’s not exactly unique. But it is mine.
So, how do you feel about your name? If you could change it, what would you change it to? And fellow Word Wranglers and other writers out there, do you use a pen name? Would you ever consider using one?