The Evolution of My Pen Name


When I created my pen name, it was all about cloaking my true identity while also creating an entirely new one for the writer I hoped to become, (see The Anatomy of My Pen Name).  It’s been almost four years since I adopted C.B. Wentworth and I’m amazed at how much I’ve grown into my pseudonym and embraced the role of a writer.

The first time I typed out my pen name and put it on the cover of my novel’s first draft it was like I had a little secret.  I hadn’t told anyone about it and I was even a little hesitant about telling my inner circle.  Why would a girl with a perfectly good name go and change it?  It was hard to explain why I needed to give my writing persona her own name, but then I realized I‘ve got a great support system that would still have my back if I had decided to go by Bertha Schlotzky.

As I grew more comfortable with the idea of other people reading my work, I decided to establish a presence for my pen name on the internet.  I started by setting up an e-mail account that was completely separate from my “real” e-mail. Then, I created a profile on facebook with details that only related to my pen name.  At first it was an odd experience to see this “stranger” every time I signed in, but I very quickly got accustomed to seeing my alter ego on the screen.  She was becoming more and more real.

After launching my blog, the name C.B. Wentworth started to take on a much deeper meaning. My readership grew far quicker than I thought and turned a obscure pen name into something that was recognized publicly.  C.B. Wentworth was a writer and I wasn’t the only one who knew her purpose.  It was suddenly so much easier to believe in the possibility of publication when the numbers kept going up each day, comments continued rolling in, and e-mails started showing up in her inbox.  Then, of course, was the day I spotted my pen name in one of those coveted Freshly Pressed squares.  Hey, maybe this whole writing thing really  can happen!

It’s one thing to self-publish my self-made moniker, but quite another to see it in print thanks to the decision of an editor.  While it was only a little square in a newspaper, (see A Little Victory), it still gave C.B. Wentworth some credit for getting a little closer to the ultimate goal of publishing a novel.  I do, however, have to admit I loved seeing my little creation in black in white . . . that name was meant to be in print and I’m starting to feel much less crazy about believing in such a thing.

The journey of an aspiring writer is a long one fraught with fear, doubt, and failure.  My pen name and I have gone through some devastating lows and exhilarating highs.  The yo-yo effect wreaks havoc on the whole concept self-belief.  There have been days where I’m ready to delete everything I’ve ever written from my hard drive.  And days when I wonder why I’m putting so much effort into something that seems so out of reach.  After my last rejection, (see The Bright Side of Losing), I bounced back quicker than usual thanks to a raging case of optimism and a very thoughtful gift I received for Christmas.  One of my oldest friends had my pen name printed in the most meaningful way I could ever imagine:

Thank you, M.

With this plaque hanging on the wall above my writing desk, I can’t help but believe in myself as much as my friend believes in me.  C.B. Wentworth, Author  has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

c.b. 2012


34 thoughts on “The Evolution of My Pen Name

  1. What a great gift! That was so thoughtful of your friend 🙂

    It’s funny – whenever I come to reply to your comments on my blog or mention you for whatever reason, I feel like your first name is CB – as in, Seebee, rhymes with Phoebe. It’s difficult for me to imagine that you even have a real name, far less what it might be!

    Is it, by any chance, Phoebe? Haha. I’m so glad to hear you’re finding your writing persona fitting in with who you are offline. I’m anxious for you to publish this book of yours!


    • Nope, its not Phoebe! 😉

      I’m always surprised when I find out writers I like have a pen name. It always makes me wonder what they’re real name is an why they changed it. But, the more I delve into the logistic of the industry, the more I realize that just about everyone writes under a pen name. 🙂


  2. I have to admit that I didn’t know it was a pen name! Think I replied to you in some comment somewhere, and wrote CB. I often think of you when a commercial comes on TV … something about Wentworth 🙂

    It’s a good pen name, and that gift was absolutely gorgeous!


    • Yeah, J.G. Wentworth’s jingle sometimes gets me associated with cash now settlements. LOL! I’m hoping it works the other way, too – maybe those commercials will remind people about a writer they like. 🙂


    • I love it when people think it isn’t a pen name. I’m always worried it sounds too fake, but so far the response has been quite the opposite. 🙂 One day, I hope it ends up on your bookshelf! Thanks for reading!


  3. I can understand completely! Pouring heart and soul onto the page (or computer screen) and either getting rejected or criticized makes a sensitive writer want to hang up her pen. Then there are the comments of “Great work. I finished your story and just sat with it for a while.” Would it be easier to be “thick-skinned”? Or would that diminish what our muse feeds us?


    • I think if we turn ourselves into stone, we don’t feel the emotions that inspire us so much. I’d rather let it hurt a little than be completely numb. 🙂 There should be a warning for this profession: You must be a glutton for punishment for this to work at all. 😉


  4. Love the plaque. Great friend to see how important this is to you.
    I would change one thing in your post… in the last paragraph I would say
    “learning” or “growing” instead of failure. You are always doing these things even when things don’t work out.
    Good Luck C.B.


    • Thanks so much for reading. I find myself in a period of transition and its empowering to realize how much my pen name has come into is own as an identity. 🙂

      Thanks for the encouraging words. 🙂


    • I am still me. I’m very much a “what you see is what you get.” Even when I’m writing fiction, I am still very honest about who I am and what I stand for. 🙂

      I’m in awe of the numbers last week. It’s been so much fun! Hopefully, they’ll all head over to your blog next!


  5. I love this blog detailing the evolution of your name. To me your are both C.B. and that other name we call you in WIG! You are both. I guess all of us writers have a lot of different sides to us and so why not different names. It’s the benefit of being a writer. We need all the benefits we can get on this roller coast we’ve decided to ride called writer! Susanne


  6. I remember when you wrote your first post about your pen name. I liked the idea of writing incognito. Do you blog with more freedom of expression because of the pen name? What a thoughtful gift from your friend – a star is born!!


    • Whenever I write, (blogging or otherwise), I always feel free and I do think my pen name has a lot to do with that. There are friends, family, and select co-workers that know my real name, but I still walk into this with the intention to stay true to who I am and what I stand for. In that sense, my writing is very honest. Like I told Lynn, what you see is what you get!

      What I really love about a pen name is that is affords the anonymity I need to feel comfortable. I learned my lesson a few years back that a profile picture and a real name makes you instantly recognizable when you don’t necessarily want to be. 🙂


    • Ever since I wrote this piece (and another forthcoming post) I’ve been contemplating the difference between the word “writer” and “author.” When I got back into the practice of wordsmithing I always had in my head that I wanted to be a writer. For some reason, that word means something significant to me. I’m still trying to process it and decide what that significance is. The word, “author” on the other hand is one I’ve never applied to myself. It seems I have another evening of contemplation ahead of me. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!


  7. I like the plaque – it’s perfect for your desk area. It’s important to feel comfortable with the words you’re putting on a page, and if a pen name gives you that – great!

    P.S. I like the name, by the way 🙂


    • Thanks! 🙂

      Even in my non-writing life I prefer the background to center stage, so it makes sense for that personality quirk to transfer from one realm to the other.

      Thanks so much stopping by. 🙂


  8. Most interesting. Will have to revisit to read more, but this one was of interests as I obviously don’t use my name for my blog. When starting out, I wished to stay somewhat anonymous since I am easy to find via internet through the library.
    One thing I shall ask you, did you purposely choose initials so one wouldn’t readily know your gender? I think about this, frankly. I’m proud to be female, but I hate the bias on what type of writing one expects. Cheers ~ angela


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