I had a pseudonym once: Evelyn Jeandron. Evelyn is a name that I’ve always loved because, like my name, Irene, it evokes old women, horses, and reality television. I also liked the ambiguity around pronunciation that Jeandron created. Was it “jen-drun,” “genedron,” “gene-drun,”?
Oh, and I also liked that Evelyn Jeandron sounded like a fake name.
So I created a gmail account and a Google+ profile. This is when I found out more about Evelyn. Turns out she’s a pack-a-day smoker with something deep and dark brooding behind that cloud of smoke. She’s a bartender at a fake bar called The Pour House in Brooklyn, NY. She went to Bronx High School of Science, but didn’t go to college at all. Not even for a semester. I wondered why such a smartie pants ultimately decide not to go to college, and I hoped to find out by reading her fiction.
After a month or two of submitting stories as Evelyn Jeandron, I got one rejection, and one acceptance in her gmail account. The acceptance was very exciting, but it brought about a few little problems that I hadn’t anticipated.
Problem one: Now I have to answer Evelyn’s email. Barry Graham of DOGZPLOT Flash Fiction wrote to Evelyn to inform her that he was going to publish my story, “Horses.” He had a few minor changes to recommend. I responded that I’d be happy to make the changes. But then when I went to sign the email, I realized I had no idea how Evelyn referred to herself. Was she EJ or Ev or Eve? After several painful minutes, I simply picked one–I think it was Eve Jeandron–and then in all subsequent emails, I decided to save myself the trouble, and just stick with plain old Evelyn.
Problem two: She’s stealing my stories. Great, I just published a story! But wait, it’s published under someone else’s name. So can I even take credit for it? Since I had gone to all the trouble of creating this whole other identity, what would be the sense of putting this publication credit on my CV? And even if I did, people would be confused when they saw the Evelyn Jeandron byline.
Problem three: I keep forgetting the damn gmail password! I would reset the password and then forget what I had reset it to. This got really annoying after about seventeen times.
Problem four: I’m stealing her stories. Evelyn wrote another story that was perfect for DOGZPLOT, but since I had given her the credit for “Horses” I decided to take the credit for this one. When I was typing out my email to Barry, I said, “Hey, I heard about this publication though my good friend, Evelyn Jeandron.” But then I deleted it and typed, “I heard about your publication through this crazy bitch I met at the Pour House. I think she said her name was Ev. Or maybe it was Eve.” Then I deleted that because I was worried he would think my story was too similar to Evelyn’s and email her to let her know that someone named Irene McGarrity was copying her style. No matter–she’d never get it since I had probably forgotten her password again.
Problem five: Evelyn’s a decent writer, but she’s a bad editor. Barry wanted Evelyn to come up with a word to replace a word in the story that wasn’t quite right. Evelyn agreed. The word had been put there more or less as placeholder for the perfect word, which she hadn’t been able to think of at the time. Evelyn racked her brain, hated herself, smoked a few thousand imaginary cigarettes, and floundered. No word. She emailed a few feeble attempts, but knew even as she typed them out with her nicotine-stained fingers, they weren’t right. Finally, Barry came up with the word himself: tenderloving.
Once the changes were finalized with the DOGZPLOT story, I decided to say goodbye to Evelyn Jeandron. The whole thing had become so freakin’ complicated that dropping it seemed like the only way to go.
So being Evelyn Jeandron was a fun and exciting little experiment. And in her short existence, Evelyn did manage to get something published. But in the end, having one identity is complicated enough. I have enough of my own passwords to remember, enough of my own stories to edit, and enough of my own emails to answer, thank you very much.