The Anatomy of My Pen Name


I admit it . . . C.B. Wentworth is a pseudonym. People who know me by my authentic name often ask two questions: 1) Why do you have a pen name? 2) Why did you pick that name?  The answer to one of these questions actually relates to my upcoming adventure to London, so now seems like the perfect time to put the mystery to rest.

There are a few reasons why I decided to take a pen name.  First, I am a very private person.  I prefer to blend into my surroundings and let my words speak for themselves. From a philosophical standpoint, the content of what I write is more important to me than whether anyone knows my real name. However, I will say that I get a kick out of people searching for my pen name on Google, (I love how worpress tells me these things).  My warped sense of accomplishment is digging the possibility that someone is searching for C.B. Wentworth in order to find something I’ve written.  Second, my profession as a teacher plays a large role in my need for a certain degree of anonymity.  The last thing I want is to come to work and have students buzzing about what I wrote on my blog the night before. A pen name gives me more freedom and allows for a division between my professional life and my writing life.   If I ever get published, I want that line to remain in place.  Third, there is something very liberating about choosing what is essentially an alternative identity.  I am still myself, (that part never changes – what you see is what you get!), but its like I get to give a name to the large part of my personality that loves to create and write.  My new name serves as inspiration to be bold.

A lot of thought went into choosing my moniker.  It wasn’t like I opened a phone book and randomly chose a name! Each element has meaning.  The two initials stand for my given first and middle names.  No matter what happens in life those two names will always be mine, so they had to be included in some way.  I didn’t spell them out because I wanted a new incarnation of my “old” names which allows for the preservation my original identity without losing what my parents gave me.  The last name, Wentworth, came about in a much different way.  When I name characters in my stories, I use a baby name book and make a list of names with meanings that match each character’s personality or reflect their journey in the story.  It made sense to do the same thing for myself.  The process was enlightening as it forced me not only to examine myself as a whole, but also my identity as a writer.  After making the list, I attached my initials to each name and eliminated the ones that didn’t sound right.  When three names remained, Wentworth stood out above the rest for the simple reason that it is an English name that means “adventures.”  I have an affinity for all things English and writing has always been the ultimate adventure, so it seemed the perfect fit.  After some more thought, I realized Wentworth is also the surname of a beloved character (at least to me) in Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” and that pretty much clinched it as my chosen name. Who doesn’t love Captain Wentworth??

As I get ready to embark on my journey to London, my English last name has never been more befitting of my writing adventure.  I’ve used it for almost three years now and as time goes by I’m becoming more convinced that the name chose me instead of the other way around.

c.b. 2011