One day, back in 2006, our usual postman queried what he thought was a wrong name on some of our letters. I found myself trying to explain. I think he gathered from my stumbling explanation that I was 'Annie Try', attempting to write YA fiction, but also 'Angela Hobday', the psychologist, who'd been writing for some years about working therapeutically with children. But as I took the bundle of post I felt confused. Was it right to be two people at once?
Names are so important, aren't they? We know that Jesus calls us, his sheep, by name (John 10:3,11). There is a prolific biblical writer who changed his name - Saul became Paul, despite 'Saul' being the grander title (Acts 13:9). We mostly choose what we read by the name near the title. We find names for our characters to suit their personalities.
So who am I? Angela - submitting to journals but spending much of my time in the day job, seeing and helping children and adolescents? Or Annie - scribbling poetry and stories? But I have a creative writing degree in the name of Angela Hobday - confusing!
It wasn't planned like this. I imagined slowly turning to fiction rather than to academic prose, with a crossover time writing a book on using fiction in therapy. I would gradually glide into the world of accomplished novelists. Then . . .
Annie began to emerge. She had to, really, Angela had been involved in writing books on 'creative therapy'. It sounds similar to 'creative writing' but is worlds apart. Angela did not want anyone to think her stories were psychology case studies. The fiction writer needed a name to hide behind.
But what happened? As Angela, I carried on submitting carefully researched journal articles, with neat references. As Annie, I wrote with flair, ideas, flights of fancy but had problems ever getting around to writing anything much, being too easily distracted. As Annie took off, Angela became more entrenched.
Annie crept into some other areas of life, too. Shopping for clothes? Too perplexing. Angela used to wear mostly suits for work. Annie won't let her, she prefers flowing, unusual fashions. Brightly coloured tops over tight jeans. A little young for Angela perhaps? But Annie has been around for such a short time. Angela is so boringly grown-up.
I'd ditch the whole name thing, but hey, Angela's got used to Annie. Annie copes with Angela, too. Over the important matters, especially belief and love, they think alike. But middle ground is not what it's all about - the whole spectrum is needed.
So I (whoever we are) will just have to learn to live with two diverse personae and sometimes pull them together in non-fiction blogs about creative writing! And I need not worry who I am because of six wonderful verses in Psalm 139:
"You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
You, Lord, know it completely."