What’s in a name?

This post has been a long time in coming (writers are notorious for their procrastination skills, right?) but it is relevant given my recent first publication.

My friend Marie Bilodeau had a guest post a while back on SF Signal about her thoughts on publishing with a pseudonym. Marie and I have also discussed the subject in the past and it really got me thinking.

You see, I’ve wanted to be a writer pretty much my entire life (except for that brief phase in grade one when I wanted to be a French teacher). But as a kid I was never a fan of my name. By the time I was 10 I had serious thoughts about an eventual name change, though no actual decision about what that name would be. I figured when I published I would do so under my “new and improved” name. Now, when imagining that someday book with my name on the cover, a giant question mark is not very enticing. So the stand in became my initials: N.L. Lavigne.

Fast forward to two years ago when I first began submitting stories for publication. Not only had I not yet gone through with a name change, I was still no closer to even deciding on name. It’s still been a thought that crosses my mind every once in a while, but I think I may have come to terms with my name. Nicole may be irritating common at times, but the meaning “victory of the people” is hard to beat. But I needed to decide on something to use as my byline when submitted, so I resorted to the old stand by of N.L. Lavigne.

My conversations with Marie and her blog post about the use of pseudonyms then got me thinking. I never thought of using my initials in order to hide my gender. If I had changed my name, I had every intention of publishing with that name. There was however that vague thought of taking place alongside names like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. I started questioning whether or not I still wanted to publish under my initials. Once I stopped thinking about my own reasons for possibly using my initials and thought about what the outside perception might be, of obscuring my gender to aid in sales vs taking part in a communal narrative of showing the world’s kick-ass women writers, the decision was incredibly easy for me.

So, as you may have noticed, my fiction will all appear under the name Nicole Lavigne. Victory of the people! (of the vine)


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