Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Et in Cascadia ego

I think I may have missed a trick in my writing career (by the way, am I the only one for whom the word 'career', in whatever context, summons up images of cars crashing through Armco, exploding at the bottom of ravines?).

You see, I've always used my real name on my work.  I haven't really had a strategy on the subject, neither hiding behind a nom de plume or choosing a different byline for each genre I write in, nor shouting my name over and over and over on social media until it becomes ingrained in our psyche like Starbucks or the Zika virus.  It's not a sexy name, but it is solid, and - in today's world importantly - unusual enough to be searchable without being unnecessarily outrĂ© or bizarre.  (I wonder if the other Robert Bagnalls Google me?  I do them.)

What I didn't bargain on was it being unpronounceable.

One of my happy, go-to memories, alongside the time a colleague mangled the alternative spellings 'disc' and 'disk' and sent out an all-points email asking if anybody knew what her 'hard dick capacity' was (completely true - and hi, Jane, if you're reading this), is standing in Waterstones on Oxford Street when two women strode through, one saying to the other, "Of course, it's pronounced 'Trollope-aye'."

You could feel everybody else in the store clench and mutter "TRO-LUP" as one.

In the same way, I didn't think it was possible to mangle my dour Staffordshire surname - BAG, as in sack, NUL, as in 'and void' - but I'm indebted to JS Arquin of the Overcast for flagging up potential future problems with the brand by making a bit of a car crash (there's that image again) of it in the recording of my story The Trouble with Vacations as Overcast 54.  I was asked to provide advice on tricky to pronounce words, but I didn't think there was one so close to home.

Perhaps, like Josef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, I should consider changing my moniker to something a bit more monosyllabic.  Something easier on the brain.

But, in every other respect the podcast is an outstanding job, with exactly the right balance of pathos and absurdity that I could have wished for.  And, without wishing to pat myself on the back too much,  I've written enough bilge to recognise the story as being a half decent little tale.

But, of course, I'm far too close to the subject to judge.  So please, please head over to Overcast 54, settle back for twenty minutes or so, and leave a review.  It really does matter to grass roots publishers who are trying to provide a varied literary diet.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Doe

Or maybe VJ Smith.  How about Michael Carmichael?  'Cheddar' George Albertine?  Arthur C Clarke?  Oh, hold on, I think that one's taken...

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