Most of my coworkers call me by my last name, Foster. Actually, my boss will scream it at me whenever he sees me. On the rare occasions when he's called me by my first name (like, literally once or twice), I had to point it out--"You just called me Sarah." "What?! I did?" Despite all this, I never really thought about my last name being part of my identity, that is, until I got engaged. Now, I get asked all the time, "What's your new last name gonna be???"
Well, here's the thing. I'm not entirely sure if I'm going to change it. And it has nothing to do with some sort of feminist viewpoint or anything. Part of me just doesn't find it necessary. I've spent 26 years with this name, why change it now? I don't think taking my husband's last name would create a stronger connection with him. It feels more like changing a part of my identity just because people expect me to.
Honestly, though, part of my decision has to do with my writing. Now, obviously I haven't published anything yet, but I also haven't done any wedding planning yet either. And I always thought that if I published anything before I got married, I wouldn't change my last name. Of course, this isn't going to be the only deciding factor, but if it does happen, it could be a big one.
Which leads me to pen names. If I really wanted to, I could publish my book under any name I choose, or any variation on my own name. For a long time, I thought I'd include my middle initial, but I think I've moved past that desire. And replaced it with slightly rational fear. At least, I think it's rational. See, sometimes I worry that if the first book I publish is gay fiction, then my publisher is going to make me change my name, maybe make me use initials to hide my identity as a woman. Which I absolutely can't stand. I know I'm probably way over-thinking things, as well as getting way ahead of myself (how about I finish writing the book first, right?). But it's not like I never thought about it.
Considering the fact that writing involves pretending to be someone else a lot, I really just want to be myself. I don't want to have to hide behind my book or my husband's last name. I want to do things my way. And an identity is something that only I can create.