Tuesday, October 17, 2006
  A rose is a rose is a rose...
...unless that rose is a writer, in which case the name does matter. (If you are wondering what the heck I am talking about... the title quote is from Gertrude Stein who was commenting on Shakespeare's famous line "A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.")

Whether it be that your name is boring (who wants to read a thriller by Jane Smith?), deemed less than acceptable to your genre (most women don't want to read a romance by Bob Brady, and a lot of people won't read sci-fi by Charlotte Willowsby), or you really would rather not have all your fans able to find your address, phone nubmer, and a myriad of other personal details at the click of an icon, lots of writers have found it useful to take a psuedonym.

I decided a long time ago to write under my own name (most journalists do, and at that time I was publishing only as a journalist). Then, after I started writing fiction, I decided to add the K, because I found out that there were a lot of Pamela Taylors out there, and a few had even written books, and I wanted people to be able to find me and my books easily.

Then when I started publishing commentary and fiction, my editors started asking me to clarify that I was a Muslim! I thought the content of the writing made it pretty clear (and I still think the content of it makes it pretty clear) but they wanted to hit the readers over the head with the fact. In the commentary, they wanted a mention of my religious affiliation in the first paragraph, and for the fiction they wanted something to make it clear in my by-line.

Which got me to thinking maybe I should take a Muslim middle name and publish under three names. I even blogged on it here, and about how I couldn't find any name that really fit. Of course, not a lot of writers use three names, but I'm not willing to give up Pamela. I'm particularly fond of Pamela as I have all my life had to fight for the last two syllables, thus developing an agressive loyalty to it. Plus, I've got at least a little name recognition as Pamela K. Taylor.

Well, I think I've got the name I was looking for... Kenza. A friend on the Islamic Writers Alliance list suggested it, and I think it's perfect.

Khatiba, which means writer in Arabic, had been my prior choice, but I just didn't like the way Pamela Khatiba Taylor tripped off the tongue (or rather, tangled the tongue up in knots on its way past the uvula...). Plus the "kh" is a problem as there's no corresponding sound in English -- the same problem that folks run into with Hannukah and Challah... both of which, like Khatiba, require a kind of flat hissing sound made between a raised tongue and the soft palate.

I thought about my husband's last name, Khalid. That would be a very logical choice, but it also didn't sound great. Pamela Khalid Taylor, had the same problem with that danged "kh," and I had resisted taking his name for so long as it isn't part of Islamic tradition. (Islamically you remain who you are, with your familial ties intact, not becoming part of your husband's property or his family's property when you marry, as switching names would imply.)

Khadijah, yuck, never did like the sound of that one. Karima, didn't sound great either. Pamela Karima -- two three-syllable words in a row just doesn't cut it. Plus the short e next to the long e is jarring. Amazingly, I couldn't find any female Muslim names starting with a K (and I wanted to keep the K, since my readers have seen me with Pamela K. Taylor for five + years now) that had two syllables.

But Pamela Kenza Taylor. That sounds cool to my ears. Two short e's and two shwas. Three-two-two on the syllables, a flowing rhythm, my beloved Pamela and my cherished K. And it's a Muslim name, although I had never heard of it until this afternoon. It means treasure in Arabic. For those who don't know that, as I didn't, it still has a foreign ring... African? Japanese? what is it? When they read my stories and (eventual) books, hopefully they'll say, oh, Muslim! At the same time, I hope a few people might pick it up thinking I'm African-American or Japanese American. Anything to expand the audience a bit!

I suppose if the editors object to three names I could even shorten it to P. Kenza Taylor and publicize hard to my current readers that that's what I'm publishing under. But still, I prefer them all together. A more accurate depiction of who I am.
 
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Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.


What I'm reading now



Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too.
MoveOn.org. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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