Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

ROW80: A Rose by Any Other Name…

It’s been a jam-packed few days, dominated by helping my sister move in to her new apartment in time for the school year to begin.  I spent most of Thursday and Friday either packing, driving, or unpacking, but in the midst of everything, I snagged a few spare moments to work on my NaNo tale.

I’m happy to report that I have less than 6.5K to write before CampNaNo ends on the 31st. While the story is in no means complete, I have an amazing foundation in place.  I’m looking forward to crafting a world around my characters, beefing up my use of steampunk technology, tightening the mystery/thriller elements of the plot, and weaving in bits of backstory and alternative history.  Editing, I think, might end up being more fun than writing the first draft.

The other thing that has been on my mind is the question of choosing a pseudonym. I’ve been pretty lax about keeping my writing and non-writing lives separate. With the school year looming before me, however, the urge to protect my writing activities from Google-obsessed colleagues and students has become much stronger.

Adopting a penname is a difficult decision to make because I like my name.  Granted, it’s a name that is often butchered and mispronounced, so I’ve learned to respond to countless variations (“Jamz” is the most recent, bestowed upon me by my grad school colleagues), but all the same, it represents who I am.

Most importantly, my name feels like an almost-tangible link to a rich tapestry of family history, one that is made all the more complex by my multiracial heritage. Jamison, my mother’s maiden name, connects me with a family tree that has been traced back to the Civil War, when the Emancipation Proclamation freed my many-times removed great-grandmother from slavery.  Sinlao, my father’s last name, connects me to the Philippines, where my dad lived until he was 15.  I feel strongly about being both black and Filipina, and the thought of discarding name and identity is troubling.

Still, a pseudonym is necessary.  I want to write, I want to publish, and I want to build a presence on social media that won’t infringe upon my professional career.  The only way I can do this without stressing out is to just pick a darn penname and move on.

To stem the inevitable existential crisis, I’ve crafted a name that hearkens back to my roots.  I’m adopting “Lena Corazon” as my writing name, “Lena” after my maternal great-great grandmother, and “Corazon” as my private homage to Corazon Aquino, the first female president of the Philippines.

I’ve spent the past couple of days trying it out.  Slowly but surely, I’m making it my own, scribbling it in my writing notebook, setting up Gmail and G+ accounts, and, er, dropping it in conversation whenever I can (I think my mom is getting sick of hearing about it. :p).  Once I can set up WordPress’ site redirection service, I’ll switch over my blog address and Twitter account name as well. The thought is a little scary and rather bizarre, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. 😀

So that’s me for the week!  I will be traveling most of Sunday, heading back to SF, which means that comments and whatnot may be sparse from me over the next day or two.  In the meantime, I wave my pom-poms of encouragement for all of my ROW80 compatriots as we near the end of Round 3. Keep up all the wonderful work, friends!

33 Comments

  1. It’s good to read about someone who is actually excited about edits 🙂

    And your pen name is a good one. I like that you chose names with meaning.

    • Edits do get a bit of a bad reputation, don’t they? Writing a first draft is like pulling teeth for me. I spend most of the time trying to withhold my inner editor, so the revising process is actually a godsend.

      Thanks for the feedback on the penname! Super appreciate it. 😀

  2. Your NaNo project sounds exciting. Good luck with the pen name.

    • Thanks, Matt! I’m at the point where I understand my MC and feel like I’m in her head. It’s a great point to be at with this project, and it’ll make edits a whole lot easier. 😀

  3. I love that you see your remaining word count as doable, that you’re enjoying the editing process, and that you’re giving so much thought to your pen name. I love, too, that you’re proud of your roots – as you should be. Safe Travels and Happy Re-writing!

    • Thanks so much, Stephanie! I’m trying to stay positive, and to remember that the remaining word count is a fraction of what I’ve already accomplished. The travels have been completed safely, and I’m quite happy to be settled back home. Have a great week!

  4. I am still going to call you Jamila 🙂

    That said, I think your reasons are sound for needing a change. Life has many facets and they don’t always mesh well.

    All the best for in your studies and writing endeavors, Jamila/Lena.

    • Yes, please continue to call me Jamila! Watching my actual name fade off into oblivion (okay, I’m being a little melodramatic, I suppose) is a little strange, especially when I’ve already “met” so many people with this identity.

      Hope you have a great week, Gene. Thanks for swinging by!

  5. OOOhh So exciting on finishing up CampNaNo! I didn’t even attempt to think about it. BTW, why do they have to make them in odd months? School starting and November (well, for US it’s Thanksgiving I know others don’t have that issue but still, right before the holidays?)

    I like the pen name, it’s good, pronouncable. Now go make it a brand!

    • Oh, I know. One reason why I’ve never participated in NaNo is because it’s so close to the holidays and the end of the semester, so I’m usually knee-deep in grading midterms and prepping for final exams. I’m going to try my hand at it this November, though; we’ll see how it goes.

      Yay, glad you like the penname! I can’t wait to convert everything over and to focus on branding in earnest. 😀

  6. Yay for 6.5k left on CampNano! You must have been working so so hard. Really glad you have found it such a useful experience.

    I too like your pen name and I love the fact that it has so much meaning. It is going to take some getting used to though!

    Have a great week and I hope that 6.5k flows like water!

  7. While I like your pen name, I wish you could have kept Jamila Jamison. It has such a nice ring to it! But yes, fiction and academia don’t always mesh …

    Congrats on the Camp Nano progress! Have a great week. 🙂

    • I know, I’m going to miss my birth name as well. But I started thinking about the looming prospect of navigating the job market in academia, and maintaining my professional persona… :/ As you say, the two don’t always mesh, sadly.

      Thanks for the congrats! I keep pinching myself as I contemplate the prospect of “winning” NaNo — definitely not something I expected when I started this project at the start of August! Have a wonderful week as well!

  8. Hi Jamilia or Lena. 🙂 I agree with Ruth, I also think Jamila Jamison has a nice ring to it and I’ve aready programmed you into my brain (ex. I seen you on the Writer’s Platform-Building Campaign) if you would have put your new pen name I probably wouldn’t have recognized you….which proves that its a big change that helps hide your identity. 🙂 P.S. love the name Lena for a girl. So pretty.

  9. Yay, you’re so close to being done! I agree, sometimes the second draft is a lot more fun than the first. Good luck finishing the last bit up! Btw, I like your name now, but I think I’m a first impressions sort of person. Lena is pretty too. 🙂

  10. Very good check-in. I like the pen name. They are a good idea. I need to think one up eventually because I am planning to change genres once I finish this story line. Sounds like you’ve had a very busy week. Keep up the good work. Congrats on the story!

    • Thanks so much, Wendy. I was really hesitant about the penname at first, but I think it will give me a bit more freedom in terms of what I write, since I won’t be worried about how it’ll affect my professional life.

      Have a wonderful week!

  11. I’ve side-stepped the whole problem of needing a pseudonym by not having a professional life. Heh. *cough* Actually, since my husband and I collaborate, and we’re working on a thriller with a male main character, we’re considering “male” pseudonym. Or maybe gender neutral. It’s an odd concept after being happy with a rather unique married name.

    • Awesome that you and your husband collaborate! And I know what you mean about being happy with your current name. I’ve only ever met one other Jamila, and she pronounced her name different than I do. I’ve been quite happy having a fairly unique name, so all of this is going to take some getting used to.

  12. Great pen name! Marie Andrews is one of my pen names – it’s my mother’s middle name and my son’s first name pluralized 🙂 Though somedays I have to keep track of who is writing, it has served me well to keep my writing names and genres separate.

    Keep up all your awesomeness!! 🙂

    Marie

    • Haha, yes, I have been bouncing back and forth between two different google accounts, and it makes me feel like I have a bit of a split personality. But it’s good to hear that your use of multiple writing names has worked for you; I’m looking forward to putting a little distance between my personas. 😀

      Have an excellent week!

  13. I’m loving the pen name -especially when it still has some meaning -personal and cultural. It also sounds like you have had a fab week -despite being busy *cheers* -you deserve an extra pat on the back. Keep up the fab work. 😀

  14. Great post. I didn’t use a pen name, and it has created some issues (my mother and I wrote a mother-daughter tale and used a lot of our own experiences). I wish now we would have chosen pen names to put distance between the book and our personal lives.

    I love Lena Corazon. You’ve clearly put a lot of thought and “heart” (I believe corazon is heart in Spanish, if I remember my Romancing the Stone terminology correctly 😉 ) into chosing it.

    Best of luck!

    • Yup, corazon is indeed “heart” in Spanish, and thanks for the Romancing the Stone reminder. That’s one of my favorite movies of all time, which gives me yet another layer of symbolism behind the name. 😀

      Have a lovely week!

  15. Great job on your writing! I love the pen name and the thought you put into it. I keep my pen name separated from my personal life also, even though it just a derivative. It gives me a different feeling, the writer in me is a different person from the mother and wife.

    • Oh, it’s so good to hear from someone else who has been using a pen name. I was feeling a little strange at first, putting distance between my personal life and writing life, because I like allowing the two to meld. I’m starting to think that I might like this better, though.

      Thanks for stopping by, Catie!

  16. Wow, I’m definitely going to have to take a page from your book (writerly pun definitely intended!) and take up your attitude about editing. I have to admit, I’m one of those who just does NOT enjoy it at all. I’m sure I can find a way to, though!

    Also? I like your pen name, and I’m so happy for you that you were able to choose one that lets you stay true to the roots you’re so (justly) proud of. 🙂

    • Crystal, I think I’m just one of those people who HATES first drafts with a passion. I have a much easier time fixing things than I do writing them down for the first time — something about that blank page fills me with all sorts of pressure, and so I have to force myself to throw down words. Honestly, this first draft is really pathetic: lots of holes and spots where I’ve written “insert response here” and things like that. Fixing all of that up is going to be a huge relief.

      And yay, thanks for the pen name feedback! I thought it up while sitting alone in my room one night, and so it’s good to hear that the name that I thought was lovely at 3 am actually does resonate well with people. 😀

  17. its a good pen name – excelent reasons fro changing – with the cyber woeld I do beleive it can be important to have a wall between self and public persona – it can be a nasty world out there – you still have your name for those who are family and friends – don’t morn it too long – you have a chance now to start re-inventing yourself whic can be great fun!!

    Well done on your writing this week – I am beginning at long last to enjoy editing its only taken three books to get there!!!

  18. I’m so with you on this! It’s really hard not to use a name which you are so proud of. I’ve tossing this one around too – I’m afraid I haven’t been able to come up with so satisfactory solution yet 🙂

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