I was not convinced. Did I really need a pen name? I work hard at my writing and I am proud of it. I yearned to see my own name upon a book cover.
There are many reasons for pen names, including privacy, writing under multiple genres, safety, desire to reach a new audience, and so on. The list of reasons is as varied as reasons to write in the first place.
Still, I was not convinced. Did I really want or need a pen name? I found advice that a pen name should be short, catchy, easy to spell, and memorable. That is when I knew I needed one, because my given name was none of those things.
I began my quest to find a name for myself, and soon realized the difficulty. Give me a baby to name and I can come up with many great possibilities. Give me a character to name and I'll find names that range from sasssy to classy. But I couldn't name myself. The problem was every fabricated name made me feel like a fraud.
My mother's maiden name is Allison and my grandmother's maiden name is O'Dell. Allison O'Dell seemed to me to be the perfect name. I could see it on a book cover. It had a nice ring to it. I felt good honoring my mother and my grandmother. But then I discovered there are many Allison O'Dells in this world when I searched for the name on Google and Facebook.
The discovery led me to a new set of considerations. I wanted a name that would not be commonly confused with someone else. A pen name should be easily remembered and yet unique. I wanted to come up on Google and Facebook as the only possibility. If I was to be a successful writer I would need a website with my name as a dot.com.
One day it hit me to form a contraction of my given name. I used basic elements of my real name but I shortened it up. Suddenly I didn't feel like a fraud. It felt right. I nearly fell off my chair when a search of Google and Facebook turned up nothing.
Now I am writing full speed ahead with my shiny new pen name.