My writer’s journey: Part II – The Nom de Plume confession

Today I am going to take my well-worn mask off because I think it’s high time that I came out of my closet, and told my readers and writing circles. I’m going to tell you a story.

Once upon a time when I was a very young writer, I delved into the literary domain feet first, and it was in this realm that I tried to hide. I hid the secret life of writing from everyone in my real life, because this was my world. The only person who knew about this world was my husband, who thought that I had gone stark raving nuts. But I needed this sanctuary that I had created.

It was a form of escapism from the real and terrifying world that I was exposed to. There was my day job, which had political stresses in it, friendships that were on rocky ground, and my family life that was literally falling apart around me. The most solid relationship I had ever known (my parents) had disintegrated before my eyes, and there was nothing that I could possibly do about it. This action, in turn caused me to seriously question my own relationship with my husband. Why? Because their relationship was built on the same foundation that I built mine on: trust. And suddenly all of that shattered, and blew my world to smithereens.

So I turned to writing to get me through this terrible patch in life. Through my writing, I created a novel surrounding orphaned siblings, because that was how I felt. It was as if our parents had died. I guess that in some way, their unified bond with us kids had. But I am pretty damn lucky with my brother and sister – they are amazing people, and if anything, my parents separating have only thrown us closer together as siblings. However, in the writer’s world, I started to feel lonely. I knew I needed other people around me who were writing too. I did some research online, found that I was not alone in this creative endeavour and came across this beautiful creative community at Writing.com. But because my environment was turning inside out, I chose to disguise myself with a nom de plume.

This was the easiest way to keep two very different worlds separated, yet connected through one mind. Mine.

Some of the material that I was putting out on the great Interweb was personal to me, my family, my friends, and my work place. Yes, it was all fictionalised, but I couldn’t risk the association out there. I was on shaky ground. I needed to work through my emotions somehow, and so I chose to write my way through them. Then I threw the pieces out there into the world for critique and feedback from strangers.

And through these actions, I learnt and learnt, and captivated huge amounts of information. Before I knew it, Leigh K Hunt was developed into a real person. She was me, and I was her. She had these incredible friends and connections throughout the world, with some pretty amazing creative people. She still does… I still do.

All these friendships are built and developed on trust and communication. I thought, ‘How can these people trust me, if they don’t even know my real name? I trust them, and I know their names, even their pseudonyms – so why shouldn’t I share mine?’

So – my real name is Kate (Kathryn) Strawbridge. (Sounds ‘desperate house-wifey’, doesn’t it?)

You may or may not want to know how I developed my nom de plume, but I will tell you anyway. Leigh is derived from my maiden name, K represents my first name, and Hunt – well that comes from my ancestors in a very roundabout way. My ancestors were Scottish Highlanders, particularly known for their poaching methods – the Gunn clan. My husband’s ancestors operated a smuggling ring based inDevon,Britain. I chose Hunt, because it represents both lines of ancestry. Little did I know that there was actually a famous poet once named James Leigh Hunt, and by that time – it was far too late.

So now I am out of the closet. You may wonder why I am only just telling this piece of information to the world now… well, it’s partly to do with the fact that my husband encouraged me to do this, and the other main reason is that now my parents’ divorce is formally going through to be finalised. I refuse to hide, anymore.

Yes, I am a writer, and yes I use a pseudonym – just like a lot of other writers. I have taken my mask off, but you can guarantee that I’ll always be the same writer and person that you know, and yes, I will still use my nom de plume. I’m kind of fond of it.

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18 Comments

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  1. Ah, so I’m not the only one with a pen, lol. It definitely makes things interesting. I get asked, “why” a whole lot.

    And props on coming clean with it publicly like this. I know it wasn’t an easy decision. Especially considering how well it was hidden. I certainly had no idea!

    P.S. Kate is one of my favorite names. 🙂

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    1. Yeah, and I have known you for a long time now, as well!
      There are other writers out there who I have known for years, who didn’t know my real name… No, it wasn’t an easy decision, but everything happens for a reason, and when my husband finally gave me the reason – I thought that now was the best time.
      I’m glad that Kate is one of your favourites 🙂

      Like

  2. Good for you, Leigh! I’m glad you’ve walked this far in your journey, and I’m glad you’ve been honest with yourself (and by extension, us). I love to hear the stories of writer’s lives. I love to understand what makes people tick and the reasons why they do things like create noms de plume (is that correct? Sorry, not a French pro here). And, regardless of how “desperate” it sounds, I like your name too 🙂

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    1. Lol – thanks Leah. Just not a name that I could write thrillers under… 🙂
      I’m sure that there will be many more blogs for you to read about my writer’s journey to come…

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  3. Hi lovely Kate! So proud of you. That was a brave decision to make yourself known. Well done chicka!
    x
    🙂
    -KK

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  4. Thanks for sharing such a personal journey, Leigh,

    Our writing is shaped by so many things.

    But I don’t think it matters what our name is, it’s who we are inside that really counts. And it’s what we write that matters to our readers. And I admire you on both counts:)

    Dee

    Like

    1. Thank you, Dee… that comment provides me with great reassurance that I have done the right thing. The fact that I feel better about being out in the open is great too.
      Personal journeys is what shapes us as people, and I think that we should all embrace them, and share them when we deem it appropriate. You’re awesome, Dee – thank you for being here with me on this creative journey.

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  5. How generous of you to share your aka and the story behind choosing your nom de plume They’re both well chosen, which in a way also proves the love from which you were born, no matter what has happened since. Both your names are beautiful and represent different parts of your self. Your pseudonym allows for a broad readership, considering the fact that some male readers’ hands won’t reach for a typical female author’s name! Very clever. Pleased to have met you, and getting to know you at this grand old masked ball we’re dancing at!

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    1. What wonderful imagery, Judith! A masquerade ball. I love masks, they are one of my favourite things. I once did a big series of paintings involving masks…. I must find that collection one day – I suspect they are sitting down at my parents house in the south.
      One of the reasons why I chose ‘Leigh’ was definitely because of the sexless-diversity of the name. That, and because everyone used to mispronounce my maiden name – so I guess it was only a natural development.

      Awesome to have you dancing with me at this ball!

      Like

  6. What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet. As do you, my dear Kate/Leigh. No matter what you call yourself, your personality, your heart, and your committment to your craft comes shining through. And I’ll always love you no matter if your name was even HEY YOU. 😀
    Hugs,
    Deena

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    1. Thank you Deena 🙂 I love you too, with your big bubbly lovable personality that often lights up my day and gives me a smile 🙂
      Love you quoting Shakespeare too – very fitting!

      Like

  7. Hiya,
    I’m enjoying the fact that this is the first thing I read after just discovering your blog. Feels like I can get to know you from the name up, so to speak.

    Our names stand for so much more than labels. You’ve done a remarkable thing.

    Kate’s a fantastic name! 😀

    Like

    1. Hello Kate!
      Lovely to see you here in Parchment Place. Yes, I guess that it is a very good way to get to know me… from the name up. Good way of looking at it, and yet so basically primal as well… as most people we get to know usually stems from the introduction of names.
      I do love our name. Kate – Greek for Purity.
      I’ll be sure to go and check out your blog too… 🙂

      Kate/Leigh

      Like

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