Three and a half years, and here we are, the 200th post on bookmarkedone.home.blog.
Obviously I’m going to do something special.
We’re going to talk about the bookmarked alias. Why I have it, why I use it, and what it’s like.
This may not go the way you expect.
I don’t have a name.
Not precisely true. I don’t use my legal name online if there is any possible way I can avoid it, with about the same aversion as a muddy cat thrashing around, trying to escape a bath.
There are actually a lot of reasons for this.
- Really like my privacy!
- Didn’t want all my early readers to be friends/family
- It’s cultural
- Internet creeps
- My narrative voice is an acquired taste
- Freedom to experiment
- Dodging the disapproval for my genre (believe it or not)
- Professional ≠ personal
- Majority of people can’t pronounce my legal name/try to call me some other similar name/can’t remember it (??), so let’s just take it easy on them already
- Awkward conversations in the orchestra
- Did You Write About Me (NO. Stop asking)
I’m going to try to avoid making this a history lesson, but for the sake of clarity, we are going to have to page back Long Ages Uncounted to me hitting “publish” on the first blog pages for this to make any sense.
The moment I chose bookmarkedone.
Okay, not quite. I wanted to call it “bookmarked,” as a play on words (do I mark the book when I put a piece of paper in it, or do the books I’ve read leave a mark on me), but what would you know, that was either already taken or a pay-only domain name, so here we are.
I didn’t use my name because I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. Because I might do it all wrong, burn it down, and start over.
Because I wanted to prove to myself, when it came to this writing thing, that I was good.
How did I intend to go about that? Well, step one, start posting. And that first summer, I wrote a lot.
OG bookmarkedone would be horrified if she saw how much time I’ve taken off recently. A hiatus to finish a college degree? What were you thinking?
But nobody who knew me knew about the blog. No family. No friends. No orchestra mates or writing buddies.
Because they knew me. And I didn’t want them to be nice just because they liked me and didn’t want to hurt my feelings.
I wanted the truth.
So I also didn’t include a lot of demographic information. Age, sex, experience, nationality, nope, none of it, not going to happen.
I have softened on some of this over time. I’ve referred to myself as “girl” in posts, but you can forget about any physical description as long as internet creeps rule this town.
But that didn’t give me a name.
So over time, I just started referring to myself as bookmarked or bookmarkedone.
And since then, that’s just–been me. My blog, Goodreads, Twitter–bookmarkedone. Always the same.
I didn’t really think about it at the beginning. Like I said, part of this is cultural. I grew up going to Renaissance festivals, and now that I work there–guys, we do not do names the normal way. I know some people by three names (character name, real name, former character name or nickname), some by none at all.
Gaming culture? Same thing. It’s amazing the things you’ll unquestioningly accept as a name because that’s what someone goes by.
I went to an LTUE conference the year it was online and because almost everyone had their Discord accounts for gaming–behold. Bookmarkedone had no trouble at all fitting in with the SF/F nerds.
And it actually worked out well that I got “bookmarkedone” instead of just bookmarked. There’s been at least one occasion I’ve filled out an online form that has the audacity to demand a first and last name.
Bookmarked first name, One last name. Done.
All of this just felt natural. Right.
The alias gave me freedom.
I could write what I wanted and I didn’t have to worry about the reputation.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not a particularly rude or vindictive person, even if I do have a concerning fondness for fictional characters with knives. Actually, it’s the opposite.
Let me put it this way. I have a really hard time with solicited reviews. Because I know that author, typically that indie or small-pub author (NYT bestsellers are not breaking my door down to reach my tiny following), is going to be reading what I write.
I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I am brutal when it comes to demanding writing of quality from anyone, including myself.
So the idea that I can cheerfully slam incredibly successful authors who are writing subpar fiction, make fun of James Riley, and gush over Cornelia Funke without them hating me on sight should I be at one of their book signings–yeah, that’s pretty attractive.
As for everyone else, you don’t need to know. My music buddies already regard me with some mixture of fear and awe for studying English, and my readers?
Something I’ve noticed, both with creatives who like their privacy and fictional characters. Even though they teach us to be specific, in CNF writing especially, be specific, there’s a charm to mystery. To wondering about the things you don’t know, imagining what could be.
If they love you, they’ll imagine you beautiful.
There is a dark side to the alias.
When I started blogging in July of 2019, I was largely ungoogleable. And proudly so. I didn’t care for social media, stopped liking my photo taken in my early teens, and ducked out of the frame a lot when friends were taking pictures/making videos.
This is no longer the case.
When I was thinking about making this post, I was half mocking myself for how seriously I take my alias. I realize there are a lot of precautions I take that probably are just ridiculous. You’re all very lovely readers, and except for an enormous wave of spam comments I got at one point, I really haven’t had any reason to be as cagey as I am.
So I did a google.
Couple of things.
First, apparently if you search “bookmarkedone,” the top results are this lovely blog and my unhinged Twitter account, where I’m slowly gaining the reputation of a bard who has had unusual dealings with fairies.
Second, if I google my legal name–
Look, I don’t know how this happened and who sold my information (college, I am looking at you), but it’s there. Some of it’s wrong, but a lot of it isn’t. With a few educated guesses?
Guys, this freaks me out.
This! This is exactly why I get really anxious when people are saying where they’re from in online convention chats! Don’t do that! This is not good internet safety! No!
So–yeah. I spent some time deleting old accounts and clinging a little tighter to the alias. Don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
And I think it’s important to talk about this because I’ve run into people who really don’t like aliases. It’s always the same argument, more or less–why are you trying to disguise your identity if you don’t have something to hide?
I think I’ve pretty clearly explained my opinions, but I’ll say one thing more.
Everyone has something to hide because everyone has something to protect. Your privacy, your family, sometimes your physical safety. Look, I get it. Some people see the internet as a realm with no consequences, because with a different name, they can’t as easily be held responsible for their actions. I’ve had someone in my personal life express the same opinions.
With all respect, for creatives like me, that mindset is naïve. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I had to use my legal name. I don’t think I’d have felt safe enough to even start.
There are downsides, of course. Besides the headache of keeping specific details vague, there are things I can’t talk about. There are events I want to attend that are more exclusive and would give you a pretty good hint who I am if I blogged about being there. I can’t rush over and post excitedly about getting published under my legal name. Even if being an author is the original dream, and you, my readers, are the people I’d most want to tell about it.
You’re also the ones most likely to fist over the cash and buy a hardcover novel written by the little weirdo you’ve been reading online for months or years, but that’s beside the point.
There are a few people on the internet who know me by my first name. Mostly authors, all lovely people who have kept it to themselves. Like I said, as much trouble as I could get into, my corner of the world has been quite peaceful.
I still hope to publish under my legal name one day. And when that time comes–
I don’t know. I’ve thought about caving in and confessing who’s behind the chaos. I’ve thought about closing the blog and moving forward, calling it finished. About continuing, leaving the two identities permanently detached.
An alias is a tool. When a tool does not serve its purpose, we discard it. The moment it’s restraining instead of useful, that it gets in the way of what I want to do, I have to reevaluate, see which path I want to take.
I know my way of doing things isn’t for everybody. I’m not giving advice. I’m just telling stories.
So what do you think? Still hate aliases? Willing to make an exception for me, because I seem very well-behaved even with the fascination for murder faeries? I’d love to hear your adventures with aliases, if you have them.
But in the meantime, signing off on 200 posts:
Thanks for reading.