For the records – my full name is Birgit Elisabeth Lehner.
When I entered a writing competition a few years back, winning 2nd place, I suddenly got a call from – you'd never guess – a woman with the same name as mine, including the middle name. She told me that people had been congratulating her for winning and she had been absolutely clueless what everyone was talking about. She contacted the magazine and ended up on the telephone line with me. Imagine my surprise. I mean, it sure was funny. But still. I was a wee bit pissed. Most of all, I knew I had to do something about this. I could hardly blame my parents for the name they had given me. I could not blame that other woman either. Still I didn't quite like that coincidence, especially as she mentioned working for the APA (Austrian Press Agency) which also explains why people who knew her assumed it must have been her writing that short-story. That gal was writing. Like yours truly.
They say we all have a twin out there somewhere, though I've been hoping it wouldn't be a twin in name but maybe some exotic stripper ... ok, just joking! Obviously I've been watching one too many episodes of How I Met Your Mother.
Anyway. My mission was obvious by that time. Though I might add that I had been thinking about a pen name before too. Playing around with different possibilities. Nothing too far removed from my own name. Nothing flashy. Something that was me. Something that shows where I'm coming from. Yet something that's not being shared by anyone else. Hopefully. Actually it didn't take too long for me to find the name I wanted to use as my pen name. While I have never been too fond of my first name as a child I decided to keep that one. I kinda grew a liking to it. It's Swedish by the way. I'm not. But that's a whole different story. Furthermore I decided to drop my middle name. No other reason except for trying to keep the full name short and the additional Elisabeth would have gotten in the way of that goal. Left was the question of what to do with the last name. As mentioned above, I wanted to stay true to myself and where I am coming from. And like an epiphany it became clear to me one day. I choose my maternal grandparent's last names, putting my grandpa's name and my granny's maiden name together.
I googled it.
And I liked the result.
To all those writers out there - are you writing under your given name or did you go for a pen name as well? If so, why did you decide that your real name just won't cut it? Any similar experiences to mine? Let me know!