Thursday, August 26, 2010


the concept of writing under a pseudonym has interested me for a while. as such, i've asked writers like xTx, frank hinton,  janey smith and others to write essays/answer questions about the act. here is part one with janey:

I write as a pseudonym because writing is like acting. When I write a certain way it's like I am acting a certain way. When I started writing, like, four years ago, I wrote stuff that I thought was so important. I thought "This is my vision. It is so important." But, nobody wanted to see things my way. Probably because my way was like the way everyone else was going. So, I stopped. Then I started to pretend I was somebody else because it's easier to do that, more creative. 
So, I guess I use the name Janey Smith because I like pretending I'm in a movie. But, I also use other names, too. And since I don't believe in a core creative self, or in any type of creative self, and I'm not even sure what a self is, I like to pretend I'm a movie star. Or something I can believe in. Like copy machines and fancy clothes, stuff like that. 

Anyway, I use my fake names without hiding who I am physically, or pretending that I'm really that person, because it's just too much work doing all that stuff. If someone says "Hey, what's your real name?" I have many names to choose from. If someone says "Hey, who are you really?" It gets more complicated. So, usually, I just say "I don't know." I also use fake names to write in fake styles. It makes me feel weird to write in fake styles using a real name. It feels like I'm cheating on myself or something. Which is weird. Because I am a total cuckold. I do write stuff under other fake names, though. 

I also publish stuff under other fake names. One of my fake names, Steven Trull, has been published on Everyday Genius, NOO Journal, Sententia, all over the world, really. He writes in a style that's more fake than Janey's, more "going nowhere." Mike Buffalo is also a totally fake name. He has stuff coming out on PANK in October because he is gay. He is also working on a novel, which is gay, in a really fake way. He writes a lot like that one fag whose name I totally forget. Anyway, it would be neat to have a different fake name publish stuff in a different fake style, all the time. Like, it would be neat to have all these books that the real I, not the fake one, has written, written by a different fake name. That would be so awesome. It would be so anti-Kenneth Goldsmith. Like, "I'm the anti-brand." 
What's wonderful is that Janey's stuff has been solicited by people all year. So, in a way, I guess, her stuff has kind of "taken off." But, none of my fake names have published books. So, I'm not a real writer, yet. But, someday soon, I hope that all of my fake-name friends will have books out. That way, I can say "I'm a real writer." That would make me feel like I'm a little more real, I guess. But, if any of my fake names really took off, the way Blake Butler's fake name or Jonathan Franzen's fake name have taken off, I would not reveal anything about who my fake names really are because I don't know anything about who I really am. But, if you asked me "Who are you?" or "Are you really this famous fake name?" I'd say: I'm nobody or I'm that other person. Or I'd say something that would make sense to you because I'd want you to be my real friend. I think it's important for you to know, Gene, that I'm not some puppeteer-god like Gordon Lish or Dennis Loy Johnson. My fake names are real people. They are not nominal, slavish extensions of a master personality. I'm just too honest for all that. Besides, I can't really get into the corporate culture thing, even at the smallest level. Although, I do wish Gordon Lish was my boyfriend.

Besides that, my identities have been revealed. Some people know who I am, but they let me pretend I am somebody else because they are nice. These people are like my real friends. I asked Paula Bomer for a loan, once. And she sent me some money, no questions asked. Then I got an email from Dennis Cooper, who was in London, asking me to send him some money. He took a lot more than I thought he would. Anyway, if my identities were revealed to somebody, like you, who doesn't even know me, the best response would be: "That's cool, I want to do that, too." But, it doesn't really matter, anyway, because, right now, nobody knows who I am, anyway. Still, it's nice to Google myself. Or watch myself on youtube TV. But imagine, Gene: If you used all these different fake names, too, you could be the editor of seventeen or twenty different lit sites or magazines or whatever using a different name for each one. You'd be able to really fuck with people at cocktail parties where everyone introduces themselves by their first and last names! Anyway, if my identities were revealed, the worst response, I suppose, would be: "I don't like 'whoever they are' anymore." That would make me sad. You see, I really want everyone to like all of my fake names. Really. I do.

Gene, let me be real with you. I will probably write using different fake names forever. I don't believe in immortality or literary permanence or whatever. Those are very bourgeois notions. The fake names will change, they will multiply, I will begin my literary career a million times over with a new fake name for each new fake work, but I will always write. It's what I do. For real. 



At August 27, 2010 at 1:30 PM , Blogger pb said...

Good God, we need more Janey Smith's and more writers enjoying themselves by writing under a pseudonym. All that ambition and striving gets so boring.

At October 21, 2010 at 9:55 PM , Anonymous Peter Schwartz said...

Before reading this, I was absolutely anti-pseudonym. It seemed pretentious to me to use anything other than my real name. Plus, I just like seeing my same old name in print and online (ego, I know). However, what you're talking about reminds me of the aesthetic of graffiti. It's about the process, the skill, not coveting any particular piece. So, this is a successful piece you have written here Mr. X. You've changed my mind, and really, how often does that ever happen?


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