My head is full of pictures, words, movies of my own imagining, that keep me fully entertained at all times. If ever you are with me and I seem distracted, I am either being beckoned by one of my many characters, wanting to let me know something great that happened to them, or, more likely, I am mentally turning you into a character I can use later in a book. How would I describe your hair, your eyes, the gestures you use when you talk? (I am a very observant person, and as such I am also a little paranoid. As my husband says, “Your problem is that you think people are paying as much attention to you as you are to them.”)
I have always imagined having a career as a writer, and so I have also imagined all the ways my name might be used as an AUTHOR. First, middle, last? First and last? First, middle initial, last? (That was my favorite for a long time.) Not so long ago I made a decision that I would use my first and middle initial, and last name. A.C. Odom. Or just AC Odom?
My reason for this came straight from a fear. I was afraid my books would be marketed to only those of my own gender. I didn’t want the marketing to be limited that way. Any old adages aside, I, like many, tend to make sweeping generalizations about books based on their covers. Big, block letters on a big blocky book? Some kind of formula fiction. Pass. Uneven writing on a cartoonish background? Children’s. Bullet points with rhetorical questions? Self-help.
Books have covers for reasons beyond protecting the pages within. So I had nightmares of soft-focus pink and purple swirls with calligraphic lettering. You know, LADY books. This seemed to be the big artistic plan for books marketed to female peoples. Pink and purple block letters on a pink blocky book? LADY formula fiction. I would not in any way describe myself as a feminist. I am not against “gender-izing” some things. But for a long time there LADY books were marketed in a similar fashion as lady hygiene products, and I find that to be unnerving. I also wanted my husband, or any of the other clever fellows I know, to want to read my writing, and pink or not, guys tend to not read books by LADY authors. So Allison became A.C.
When I sat down to build this blog, I faced a crisis. I wanted to build my “platform,” like a well-intentioned writer is supposed to do, but if I started it in my name, Allison Odom,
would I then have to publish in that name? I felt suddenly like I had to decide just who I was going to be. It was easy to imagine A.C. Odom as this other being, this writer-creature, who was somehow “other” than me, outside of me, and as such, it was easy to set her aside as some imagined, future me, some destination point. When I reached her, I would know, I had arrived. But A.C. Odom wasn’t taking any responsibility; it was only Allison’s to-do list I had to deal with, only me at the keyboard each day. A.C. was too far away to conjure. So there’s my name on the blog, and my picture. And even though those things are both great big “look at me!” kinds of things, and I want to cringe, and I am blushing at asking for your attention, I have to do it. I have to take responsibility for what I expect of myself, for what I want, what I feel I have been called to do. I have to stop imagining someone outside of me is going to get it done for me, that I alone am somehow not capable.