What’s in a Name?

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I was once told by a Creative Writing professor to just use your real name when you are trying to publish your work.  Her reasoning was thus: it is hard enough just getting published, why shouldn’t you get the credit instead of some made up, fictitious persona?  That reasoning sounded fair to me, so I chose my real name–Sidney Blaylock, Jr.

This is seems like a reasonable name–nothing to exotic, right?  A first and last name, or in the parlance of naming, a given name and a family name.  My father, for whom I’m named, is still living, so the suffix Jr. (for Junior, aka Sidney Blaylock “Junior”) is literally what my name translates to.

However, if you wanted have a complete bibliography of my work, you’d need to look under the following names: Sidney Blaylock, Sydney Blaylock, Sidney Blaylock Jr., Sidney Blaylock, Jr., Sydney C. Blaylock, and Sidney Blalock.  All of my published work, be they short-stories, comic books, or articles have been published under one of these variations on one simple name: Sidney Blaylock, Jr.

Normally, I wouldn’t care–when I see my name misspelled on letters and such, I don’t generally make a big issue out of it.  I simply raise my eyebrow and note that the person or entity doesn’t know me as well as they they should (esp. if they’re trying to solicit me for money) and move on.  In the days of computer assisted sites for bibliophiles (such as Goodreads or LibraryThing) it makes a difference as Sidney Blaylock Jr. (without the comma between the last name and suffix) is an entirely different author than Sidney Blaylock, Jr. (with the comma in between).

My later publications have been much better about the standardization of my name, but some still miss the comma and that means that I have fewer publications listed on Goodreads and LibraryThing than I actually have published, which in turn makes it hard to build up an audience/fanbase of readers.

So I urge you, next time a name comes across your consciousness–take a moment to look at, to really look at it, and make sure that your idea of what the person’s name is actually matches what they wrote.


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3 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. 11centsawish says:

    Good thoughts Sidney. I’ve not written anything “real”, just fanfiction which I’m told must always be under a Pen name but if I did write something real what name would it end up under as like you, I’m known by many spellings etc. Very thought provoking.

    • I’m glad to hear that you’re writing and I think fanfic is as “real” as writing with original characters. The problem with the naming convention is probably my own fault by adding in suffix “Jr.” in the mix, but I wanted it to be absolutely clear that I was doing the hard work of writing and publishing, not my father. Sometimes I guess (paradoxically) misunderstanding is the price you pay for clarity.

      • 11centsawish says:

        So very true. But you do want to lay claim to your own writings and not let someone else get the credit. Writing is hard work whether you use your own character’s or someone else’s. I bet I spend close to half of my writing time in research. I want the story to feel as though it was written when the show was made. And after all that work you want the credit. So yes you needed the Jr to prove it was you!

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