Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Tao of Han

     My daughter Hannah is a shoulder surfer, constantly breathing down my neck when I’m on the internet doing anything, writing anything. Drives me crazy! But sometimes I realize she’s the angel on my shoulder waiting to help me, if I just listen. 

     Last summer, I was contemplating self-publishing a little book of mine that had languished long on my shelf at home. I’d been to writers’ conferences and heard agents, and probably some editors, going on and on about how they wouldn’t touch a book that had been self-published with a proverbial ten-foot pole.  “Why on earth would you do that?!” they gesticulated violently.  The horrors!  It was social suicide for authors, to be sure. 

     So it was with no small amount of trepidation with which I approached self-publishing.  In fact, I had convinced myself to try it, but with the caveat that I could use a pseudonym and no one would ever know it was me.  I could protect my professional reputation, if I ever had one, by the use of this name.  It was a wonderful name, stolen from a random news story – Fletcher Golden.  Sounded so writerly, so smart, so golden.  It was going to be perfect. 

     That’s when nine-year-old Han stepped in.  She watched me typing this fictitious name on my own work and said, “Who’s that?”  And I, thinking I was so smart, explained to her the idea of using a pseudonym to hide my real identity.  Then Han, who is actually the smart one here, said “Why?” as in “Why would you hide who you really are and make people think someone else wrote your story?”  Try as I might, I didn’t have a decent explanation, simply because there isn’t one. Shame?  Fear? Embarrassment? I didn’t want to be any of those things, so I let it go. I gave in, gave up those worries and was true to myself, like Han knew I should.  Thank you, sweetie, for helping me remember what's truly important. I love you.