On the morning of Sunday, January 19th, 2014 Allan Douglas passed over the bridge to pound the great typewriter in the sky. He died by my hand. Although I prefer the term “assisted suicide” to “murder” because Allan Douglas and I had in fact discussed this situation and the way things might play out. But should anyone elect to prefer charges…
Before the NSA data-mining center flags this post and sends the FBI over to break down my door, I should explain that Allan Douglas was my pen name. A pseudonym I began using way back in the late 1970’s when I first began writing for periodicals.
I chose to use that name because it was easier to remember – and to spell – than Douglas Bittinger. I also felt it sounded more artistic: more…writerly. And since it was indeed my own first and middle names, just deranged, it was still “me” any way you sliced it.
Why Kill Allan Douglas?
So what would motivate me to cast aside a moniker that I had served me well for so long and I had spent so much time building up? I can explain that in one word: Phoneyism.
Yes, I made that up. Grammar Nazi’s please line up to the left and wait your turns beating up on me for it.
The vast majority of my work has been in the venue of print publications: paper books and real-life magazines. My editors and publishers knew my real name and conversed with me as such. Readers never spoke directly to me, they communicated through the periodical.
Since getting into ePublishing and becoming active on social media, that changed. For several years now I have had a growing audience addressing me as Allan. And I felt obliged to respond as such. What was once a pen name has become an alias. In my mind, there is a vast difference.
One of the uglier aspects of the internet is the anonymity it affords. Some people abuse that aspect by bullying and harassing others. I count using an alias to say things you would not have the guts to say under your own name as cowardice. I’ve never done this, but I have come to feel that I’m being dishonest by wearing a mask, even if the mask is a mold of my own face. I’m not ashamed of my work. I’m not shielding my family from my public – or vice versa.
I recently talked this over with a friend and co-worker. We discussed what might simply be paranoia over misrepresentation. After all, the vast majority of people on social media use some “handle”. But if I disapprove of that aspect of the internet, should I be engaging in it?
Is my following so large and devoted that suddenly being told that Allan Douglas is fictitious would cause them to grab pitchforks and storm the gates? Or more likely, walk away shaking their heads over being duped? No.
During this discussion it occurred to me that the friend I was discussing this with was Allan Douglas. That’s pretty creepy. He agreed. It’s time we reassemble. And since he’s the fictitious one, he is the one to go away. Flesh rules over fantasy, unless Rod Serling is involved.
The deed is done. I admit to it freely and throw myself on the mercy of the courts. Rest in peace, Allan Douglas. I Douglas Allan Bittinger, will carry on in your place.