Confession: I’m not a fan of pen names.
But I used to be. When I first started writing, I wrote under the pen name of “A-Plus,” which was also the handle I used during my radio days at Power 88 in Las Vegas. I abandoned the pen name after penning my first editorial for Hip Hop DX and was confused with the rapper A-Plus from Hieroglyphics.
Against my better judgment, I laid waste to the pen name in favor of my government.
Since then, I’ve written a couple of pieces that could be considered controversial or simply in bad taste. I’ve given a lot of thought to how this affects a future job search in the real world. When people Google “Anthony Springer Jr.” (always with the Jr.)* will they see a professional journalist who wrote some provocative pieces for work or a mere hobbyist with no sense of tact? I hope it’s the former, but I can’t help but think, in spite of my credentials, that the latter creeps into the minds of hiring managers.
No matter how tempting it would be to use a pen name, here’s three reasons I don’t:
- I want credit for my workWhen it comes to branding and reputation, there’s nothing more important to a writer than his/her name. While some journalists/bloggers can build up a reputation with their pen names, I want everything — positive or negative — tied back to Anthony Springer Jr.
- It keeps me honestThe Internets (word to George “Dubya” Bush) are a safe haven for anonymous and over the top speech — and by anonymous and over the top I mean ratchet and uncouth verbage slung by those who would never say such things in real life. The allure of going all in on somebody is decreased when you affix your real name to the end of a tweet, blog or article. I’ve gone hard on people before, but I have no problem standing behind what I say (and such was the case when I got blasted over my UFC rankings on a popular MMA website, which has left my Google search in shambles).
- I don’t juggle well
Pen names, government names, abbreviated names — it’s like trying to repeat “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” a bunch of times really fast. I don’t do the juggling or balancing act too well. If Anthony Springer Jr. can’t say something, it should probably not be said. I value my privacy and occasionally dive into the personal for my benefit and the benefit of whoever should be reading. But the general rule of thumb: if I can’t put my name on it, it need not be shared or said.
Am I crazy? Maybe I should adopt a pen name for these random musings. Hmmm…