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Bye-bye, Plally Jane

Kristen Lamb–The Kristen–is teaching a bunch of us writers about social media. Her voice echoes in my head: Your name is your brand. Your name is your brand.

That’s a tetchy subject with me. My name is the story of my life.

Sallyjjanesjgreenbergdarnowskydriscollrenta

Which part should become my name–my brand?

My poor dad used to tell how he once took me to the grocery store when I was tiny and bragged to the cashier about how smart I was.

“She can say her own name already,” he said. Then he turned to me, sitting in the shopping cart. “Go ahead, honey. What’s your name?”

I sized up the situation. Finally, I said, “Plally.”

The cashier shrugged. Just another new daddy telling a tall tale about his kid.

Years later, Dad would still say, bewildered, “I don’t know why you did that.”

I know why. I HATE my first name. I’ve always hated it. Apparently since the time I learned to talk. Probably before that.

With apologies to all the other Sallys out there, Plally is an improvement.

Fast forward to my first real job. Boss assigned me to write a public relations piece for the New York Daily News. My first professional publication! What name would I use? It didn’t seem to matter that I wouldn’t get a byline. I needed a new persona. My writing persona.

Wilhelmina Euphraisie Sophronia McFrimple Sterling, Fifth Duchess of Norfolk, Jersey and Perth–

Like distant thunder, The Kristen’s voice came rumbling down from my future: Not the name of a purse doggie or a Triple Crown winner or an 18th-century courtesan. Just, you know, a name. You.

But who is “me”? Over the years, I’ve written and/or been published as Sally Greenberg, Sally Darnowsky, S. Darnowsky (maybe–I don’t remember), Sally Jane Driscoll. How many lives have I had, anyway? How many of me are there?

When the time came to get serious and write novels, it was really time to decide.

So I looked at author’s names on book spines. The “k” sound is good. Should be shortish. Helps if it’s euphonious. Rhythmic. Would be nice if it had a balanced shape.

After my long-ago divorce, a Maryland court charged me three hundred dollars for the right to use my mother’s maiden name. I’m determined to get my money’s worth. How about plain ol’ Sally Driscoll?

A quick check on line coughed up a hundred of ’em (hi, everybody!).

The Kristen’s voice in my head, now edgy: This isn’t rocket science, dammit. Just pick a name!

S.J.! Yeah, that’s it. S.J. Driscoll. “K” sound, rhythmic, balanced. Fits on a book cover (if only). No other S.J. Driscolls out there that I can find.

Except Stan Driscoll, who owns the S J Driscoll Company (hi, Stan!). And @sjdriscoll84 on Twitter (hi, Steve!) And my ex used to call me SJ–

The Kristen: Put a sock in it, girl.

So that’s the end of this saga. S.J. Driscoll. For better or worse.

But my friends call me Plally–er, Sally. You could, too.

By S.J. Driscoll