Most of my friends know that I have published a novel, “The Mistress of Rye.” Some have read it. I have been asked by others why I have not published under my own, real name. It forced me to do some soul searching. I asked myself why I felt the need to have a pen name. After all, I write in the third person and there are absolutely no autobiographical elements in the novel. I am rather proud of my writing. So why hide behind a pen name?
Well… Wait a second! There might not be any autobiographical elements in the novel, but, there may certainly be some personal aspects that I can relate to. For example, the heroin, Lady Katherine, is constantly checking casualty lists in the newspapers trying to find information about Lord Montague, her missing brother. I have also lived through wars and I have memory of the black framed death notices in the papers during and after each military conflict. I recall checking the lists daily to see if anyone I knew was mentioned. And I remember the feeling of pain at the sheer number of the fallen. However, while identifying with Katherine helped me describe her despair, I do not I feel that my work is about myself. Therefore, it cannot be the reason why I chose to write under a pseudonym.
Well…the truth is that, after many years, I have recently retired from my therapy practice. I was trained psychoanalytically in the old, classic way which requires the therapist to serve as a neutral stimuli unto which one projects thoughts and feelings. And, while I hope that I was always approachable and engaging in my practice, I still need to keep some professional boundaries, and I am not sure how much my writing reveals about myself.
Why did I chose the name Emma Reid? Truthfully, I do not really know. But, being a staunch believer in the subconscious, clearly there must be a reason. Let me think… I know that I would have called my daughter Emma, but I had three sons. The question, again, remains why? Why did I pick this name? Well…I do think the name is simple and short and that it has a certain ring to it.
Wait…I had a great-aunt called Emma. But, believe me… I am absolutely sure, in fact, I am certain beyond any doubt, that had she crossed my either conscious or subconscious mind, I would have picked another name. So…let’s see. What Emma could I have come across in literature?
Well…There is, of course, Madame Emma Bovary. No! I do not see myself in her. Flaubert’s heroin is pathetic, delusional, greedy, and selfish. Her gruesome death alone would preclude any wish to identify with her. Then, there is Jane Austen’s Emma. Much as I like her, and as nice as it was to see her grow and mature, she is not my favorite Jane Austen character.
Wait! There is Emma Thompson, the actress. I like her a lot. She is a great actress that I enjoy watching on the screen. But this is neither here nor there. And so…no more soul searching. I chose a pen name to preserve my privacy for professional reasons, and I liked the sound of the English, three syllable name.