I had a recent conversation about a man in his 50’s who was well-respected and had a decent career in the medical field that changed his name from Jeffrey to Will. I don’t know if he went through legal channels or made it official, but even if it’s his middle name, why make the switch now? I cynically thought it was because he would like to make sure he’s in his partner’s will (he’s in his 80’s). A leap? Perhaps. I just don’t know what would possess someone to make that change when there wasn’t something like a divorce, move into the witness protection program or new CD coming out with the new moniker. It confuses everyone and they end up having bane conversations like this and wasting moments they’ll simply never get back.
”Well, Will said that he thought the cabernet we had last week at Deb and Al’s party was “too young”, what do you think?”
“Do you mean Jeffrey?”
“Oh yes, sorry, Jeffrey who now goes by Will.”
“When did that happen?”
“I don’t know, I guess I found out at Petra’s wedding in June when I introduced him to Jeanne and Bob. He told them to call him Will.”
“Really? Why would he do that?”
“I don’t know, hon. You know, people just decide to make changes because they can.”
“Well, I think it’s confusing and weird. He’s too old to change his name and have people remember it.”
“Think away, it Will not change. Ha, get it?”
“Oh you’re funny today. Take that show on the road. She’s here all week folks, don’t forget to tip your waitress!”
“Well, I thought the cab was fine and wish I would have written down the name of it.”
“Why not give Jeffrey a call?”
“You mean Will?"
“Oh man, yeah I mean Will. Ha. Life is a trip.”
Having said this, I had someone ask me what I’d like to be called if I could change my name and I chose another – it was kind of fun to think of your own name, like re-discovering yourself. Some prefer pen names other than their own, but I think that authors should use their given names and get the respect they deserve. Michael Crichton, love that guy and wish he hadn’t passed away, used the pen name Jon Lange when he was first writing books and being published. Why Jon Lange vs. Michael Crichton? It’s not like he was writing romance books or erotica that he might be shy to claim, it was mainstream novels.
For all those potential authors, my opinion is that you should own your name because it is who you are and if the world is to share in reading your works, we want to know the person who we think fondly of, can relate to in some small way in this short life we have to live.