Many writers choose to write under a pseudonym, I tried that for a while. Actually it wasn’t really a pseudonym; it was my name—just changed a little. And I didn’t do it to keep my true identity a secret. It’s just that I have never liked my name, Arthur Wallace Lane Jr. Well that isn’t exactly true either. I haven’t anything against Lane, in fact I am quite proud to be a Lane. And Arthur is a nobel name, King Arthur and all of that. And I once had an Uncle Art, who I liked a lot. It’s just that I never felt like an Arthur, or an Art or an Artie. It just wasn’t me.
I have always been called by my middle name, which is Wallace, as was my Father—I’m a junior you see, a II. Actually, both my dad and I were called Wally rather than Wallace. The only one who ever called either one of us Wallace was my mother when she was very angry; the rest of the time it was Wally. And Wally soon led to other nick names, or should I say add-ons, like Big Wally, for my Dad & Little Wally or worse yet Baby Wally—I had an aunt who referred to me as Baby Wally until she died, I was in my fifties at the time.
Anyway, when I started writing poetry and knew I was going to be published, I decided it was time for a proper name, one that befits a published writer and poet. Certainly Wally wouldn’t do. I mean let’s face it, the name Wally brings to mind Mr. Peepers (Wally Cox) or that nerdy brother in Leave it to Beaver, or worse yet, Wally the Walrus in the Andy Pandy comic books. Nope, none of that would do, I decided to change my name!—But to what?
I felt I had to retain something of my given name, so as not to break either of my parent’s hearts. I finally decided to just go with the first initial of my first and middle names—A.W. That coupled with my last name had a nice ring to it—A.W. Lane—Sounds distinguished doesn’t it? A proper name for a writer of poetry and pros. And, besides that, it fits, in its entirety, into those over-short places on forms that say: Sign Here. There is no possible way to squeeze Arthur Wallace Lane Jr. into one of those inadequate spaces. No mater how scrunched up or small I write, I always end up swerving between lines or up into the margin; which ends up looking like a five-year old might have tried and failed—certainly not a distinguished writer.
Anyway, I started signing my name A.W. Lane. And for a while, I really felt relieved. Signing my name became a breeze. Making reservations was so easy, and when I was paged, they always felt obliged to add ‘Mr.’ to such a distinguished sounding name. “Call for Mr. A.W. Lane.” People started treating me with an air of respect. “Right this way, Mr. Lane.” This somehow never happened when I was just ‘Wally.’
Things were great for awhile, but like all things, the newness wore off. I started getting mail that began with: Dear Mr. Aw or I got phone calls asking for Aw Lane. And people who I met didn’t know what to call me and in the end I went back to just being Wally. And you know it felt good. Wally was a comfortable fit for me, like a favorite coat or sweater. It turned out it was always me. I was Wally, not A.W., certainly not Aw, just plain and simply Wally.