Why I don’t Use a Pen Name

Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash

There are several legitimate reasons to use a pen name. Let me say upfront, I am not criticizing the reasons other writers choose to use a pen name. You probably know the reasons, there are many. The two biggest ones are to protect a writer’s family and freedom or embarrassment. I hear things that go like this, “I don’t want to hurt my family if I write about them.” or “I don’t want my family to know what I am writing about”.

I also get the argument that there is freedom in anonymity. I am not ashamed of my work, my words. Good or bad, what I write is mine. There is a sense of ownership when a writer or an artist creates. Words, characters, and plots sometimes play nice with the writer and sometimes take on a life of their own. If a story needs a certain thing I will write it. Yes, I have written sex scenes under my real name. I have written dark humor, murder, and other topics that might make my family cringe. My work is not for everyone and I am alright with that.

I had at first considered adopting a pen name for the sole purpose of writing more real-life content to include murder and erotica in my fiction or in nonfiction about how I handled past trama. I have heard it said that writers write differently when they use different names for different genres. I do not think that the words or the way I write would change if I decided to use a false name. The differentiating factor being the genre, not my name.

I decided against hiding behind a false name and rather embrace the vulnerability that comes from being honest and open. I found that in doing so my writing was better and easier to write. I wasn’t second-guessing my words in the vain of protecting readers who may get offended.

I write, work, and live with one name. There is power in a name, given, chosen, or implied.

As for my real name, I like my name. It is an honor to use it. My first and middle names were given to me by my parents. My last name was given to me when I was welcomed into the O’Gara clan by the matriarch long before I married my husband.

I am proud of my name. It has history and strength in it. I feel like I would hemorrhage if O’Gara was stripped from me or if I was called by a different first name.

I have a transparent personality. What you see is what you get and using my real name, is the real me. It is how readers will find me, love me or hate me.

~Lori O’Gara

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