Writing with multiple identities

Over the years I have published under various names, as well as acquiring several blogs, websites and email addresses. For a writer, what are the pros and cons of having such multiple identities? I’ve been considering this question recently because I’m in the process of trying to streamline my internet presence, and deciding what material to update, archive or delete.

True multiple personality disorder (dissociative identity disorder) is very rare. But most people do display different sub-personalities for different aspects of their life and work, and keep them apart whether by default or design. There are potential advantages to this. If your day job is in a field such as law or accountancy which requires a fairly conventional image, you may not want your clients and colleagues to know that you write steamy romances in your spare time. If you feel your novel reveals more about you than you want anyone else to know, you may prefer to publish it under a pen name. If you write both fiction and non-fiction you may choose separate identities for each; I recently met a man who writes one of his blogs under the alias of the female protagonist of his series of novels.  And if you do not like your real name, or think it is unsuitable for the genre of your book, you may decide to choose a ‘nom de plume’.  According to numerology, names have great metaphysical significance and exert an effect on personal destiny.

But maintaining multiple identities comes at a price. It takes time to run two or more blogs or websites. Using more than one name can have social, financial or legal complications. Most writers find it enough of a challenge to market their books under a single name, let alone more, and the commercial success of a book sometimes depends more on its author’s reputation than on the quality of its content. In one famous recent case, the crime novel The cuckoo’s calling by Robert Galbraith attracted excellent reviews when first published, but did not achieve best-seller status until ‘Robert Galbraith’ was unmasked as J K Rowling.

Because of being married twice I have had three different surnames over the years,  a choice which probably did not prove helpful for my career. I sometimes feel tempted to use yet another name for the novel I am writing … however I think it would be better to stay with my real one from now on.

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