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.