Still on the name theme, and because I enjoyed Tania's contribution so much, I asked another interesting writer, Jamieson Wolf about his name. He came back with this fascinating mini-essay into how he came up with his pen-name. Enjoy!
What’s In a Name?
By Jamieson Wolf
Once upon a time, I wanted to be an actor.
I had taken dramatic arts all through out high school and university and wanted nothing more than to grace the stage and screen with my presence. Acting was in my blood; it was the air I breathed.
Looking back on it, I suppose it had a lot to do with the fact that I enjoyed being someone else, pretending to be someone I wasn’t. Like most people with a creative bent, I had a lot of self esteem issues that I didn’t want to deal with. Acting gave me the outlet I needed. I could pretend to be someone else, someone other than me.
There was one thing standing in my way, however. My name. My name was boring, boring, boring. I knew that if I was going to be an actor, I would have to reinvent myself. I would need a new name.
I saw this as the perfect opportunity to leave my old self that I was so unhappy with behind and embrace a new me, a better me. A me I could be proud of, a me I could live with. A me that wasn’t unpopular, gangly and awkward.
I was fine with my first name, which has always been Jamieson. But I wanted to change my middle and last names to something that would have a spark, something that would give me the new life I was so desperate for. A name that would help me heal.
All through out my first year of university, my mother and I tried to think of different names. I wanted to take her married name, that of Villeneuve, as my last name. Thankfully my stepfather at the time consented and welcomed me into his family. But I needed a middle name, something that would be different.
We tried all kinds of W names. I was already signing things with my initials of JWV, Villeneuve, so it needed to be a W name. We went through all kinds of names: Willhelem, Watkins, Wilbur, Wilkes, Wade, Walden, Waldo, Wallace, Walsh, Walt, Ward. I didn’t like any of those names. Finally my mother suggested Wolfgang and I thought about it for a moment.
I didn’t like Wolfgang, too old sounding. But Wolf…
There was something there, a spark, a tingle. I loved the sound of it, of the three names rolling off of my tongue: Jamieson Wolf Villeneuve…
I had always loved Wolves, loved the sleekness of them, their allure. I loved the idea that they hunted during the night, that they hunted in a pack or alone. They were hunters, strong and brave; things I always wished I had been.
Thus, a new name was born. But I would have to go through one final change before my name was complete.
After university, however, I realized that I loved the craft but not the people. For those of you not familiar with the world of theatre, it’s a cutthroat business. Though I had developed a thick skin, I didn’t have the patience to deal with the fake people, the backstabbing, and the competitiveness. I just wanted to act.
I left the theatre then. It was heartbreaking to do, as I had loved pretending, loved being on stage, the centre of attention. Something was different now, though. With my new name, I was a new person. The ability to be someone else didn’t hold as much allure or mystery as it once had. I didn’t need to pretend anymore.
As I began to write more seriously, I knew that I would have to go through one final change as far as my name was concerned. Again I was looking for a name that would stand out, one that would roll off the tongue and be easy to remember.
So, I decided to drop my last name and have my pen name be made up of my first and middle names. It worked for me, separating my regular life from my writing life and giving me the name I never knew I wanted.
Though it took many years, I finally have a name I cherish and I have finally found myself inside the pages of my work and inside my words.
I no longer have to run from myself because I finally know who I am.