Angela? Annie? What's in a name? by Annie Try

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."


  1. This is a lovely post; I felt you were describing dual personalities. I can relate to it very well as I use Sheila Robinson for my day to day life and SC Skillman on all my online social media platforms, and as a fiction writer. I loved what you wrote about the two personalities dressing differently. This is all intriguing psychology, and I'm sure it is shared by many great authors who use pseudonyms. Just think of Charles Dodgson / Lewis Carroll for instance - there was a fascinating radio programme about him the other day.

  2. Brilliant Annie-Angela! Thank you x
    (And keep wearing those lovely flowing tops over tight jeans - they totally suit both Annie and Angela and you look great in them! Definitely NOT too young! xx)

  3. I enjoyed this too. It is confusing having two names.I am not yet published (apart form an odd poem), Online I use my username or my real name. I'm not sure how many people connect the two. I certainly couldn't use my username as an author - it wouldn't work.

  4. Wonderful post, Angela/Annie. One I can relate to on so many levels! :-)

  5. Totally relate. I was Frances Young all my professional working life but became Fran Brady when I retired from full time work and took up creative writing. It just sort of happened. Brady is my maiden name and my first novel was written in the year following my father's death and dedicated to him (Jack Brady). Somehow, then, using the family name seemed right and Fran sounds better with it, I think. But she is a rather different creature from Frances Young. Like you, I skip between the two and find they intrude upon each other's lives. I think of them as Venn Diagrams.

  6. I don't use a pen name but I relate to this as a writer, wife, mother, friend - don;t we all wear different personalties according to which role we're performing. It seems a natural defense system - designed by God? Would be all of only one thing be too much? An interesting and thought provoking post

  7. Strangely relevant here


Post a comment