The Evolution of My Pen Name

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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

The Bright Side of Losing

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No one ever said writing would be easy.  It’s a blood sport and you have to be willing to take a number of brutal blows to your confidence.  First, there’s the inner critic who always has a nasty word on the tip of her tongue.  Then, there’s a reader who doesn’t get it.  And don’t forget the agent who isn’t interested or the editor who thinks your short story isn’t good enough.  The list goes on and on.

At the moment, my inner critic is basking in the fact that I’ve lost yet another writing contest.  She’s quick to point out that this is the fourth one where I haven’t impressed anyone.  It feels a lot like sipping lemonade with a fat lip.   A year ago, a blow like this would have sent me slouching in a corner for a month.  Not now.  If anything, I’m determined to come back swinging.  Four is a little number and I’ve come to look at it like a rite of passage. Every writer with a published book has been rejected more than once and it just so happens to be my turn to pay those dues.

Instead of focusing on the loss, I’m going to focus on my victories over the last few months.  My dream of becoming a writer is slowly coming true one little step at a time.  The victories are small, but they all lead towards the larger goal of finding a publisher.

1. In April, I launched a blog that people actually read.  After much trepidation, I started this blog as a way to motivate my muse.  It’s been an amazing experience and I couldn’t be more grateful for each person who stops by to read my work.

2. In June, I finished the final draft of my novel.  After three years of toil, my first novel can be classified as edited and revised.  To make the journey even more fulfilling, I found the courage to share my work with four beta readers.  The response was overwhelmingly positive, which makes the next step of querying agents so much easier to take.

3. On August 10, 2011 The Daily Post chose to feature Muse Juice.  This was the first time something I’ve written showed up on a site other than my own.  Very exciting, indeed.

4. On August 11, 2011, I got the shock of my life when The Best Souvenirs Are Free was Freshly Pressed.  For a writer who has never been published, this was absolutely amazing.  I’m still giddy.

5. On Thanksgiving Day my letter about a random act of kindness was published in The Arizona Republic.  For the first time, I saw my pen name in print.  My muse and I celebrated with a happy dance.  This victory means the world to me as its the first time an editor chose to publish my work.

The process has only just begun and I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Yes, the rejections are plentiful and always forthcoming, but the victories (no matter how small) outweigh every “no” I receive.

c.b. 2011