Bye-bye, Plally Jane

Kristen Lamb–The Kristen–is teaching a bunch of us writers about social media. Her voice echoes in my head: Your name is your brand. Your name is your brand.

That’s a tetchy subject with me. My name is the story of my life.


Which part should become my name–my brand?

My poor dad used to tell how he once took me to the grocery store when I was tiny and bragged to the cashier about how smart I was.

“She can say her own name already,” he said. Then he turned to me, sitting in the shopping cart. “Go ahead, honey. What’s your name?”

I sized up the situation. Finally, I said, “Plally.”

The cashier shrugged. Just another new daddy telling a tall tale about his kid.

Years later, Dad would still say, bewildered, “I don’t know why you did that.”

I know why. I HATE my first name. I’ve always hated it. Apparently since the time I learned to talk. Probably before that.

With apologies to all the other Sallys out there, Plally is an improvement.

Fast forward to my first real job. Boss assigned me to write a public relations piece for the New York Daily News. My first professional publication! What name would I use? It didn’t seem to matter that I wouldn’t get a byline. I needed a new persona. My writing persona.

Wilhelmina Euphraisie Sophronia McFrimple Sterling, Fifth Duchess of Norfolk, Jersey and Perth–

Like distant thunder, The Kristen’s voice came rumbling down from my future: Not the name of a purse doggie or a Triple Crown winner or an 18th-century courtesan. Just, you know, a name. You.

But who is “me”? Over the years, I’ve written and/or been published as Sally Greenberg, Sally Darnowsky, S. Darnowsky (maybe–I don’t remember), Sally Jane Driscoll. How many lives have I had, anyway? How many of me are there?

When the time came to get serious and write novels, it was really time to decide.

So I looked at author’s names on book spines. The “k” sound is good. Should be shortish. Helps if it’s euphonious. Rhythmic. Would be nice if it had a balanced shape.

After my long-ago divorce, a Maryland court charged me three hundred dollars for the right to use my mother’s maiden name. I’m determined to get my money’s worth. How about plain ol’ Sally Driscoll?

A quick check on line coughed up a hundred of ’em (hi, everybody!).

The Kristen’s voice in my head, now edgy: This isn’t rocket science, dammit. Just pick a name!

S.J.! Yeah, that’s it. S.J. Driscoll. “K” sound, rhythmic, balanced. Fits on a book cover (if only). No other S.J. Driscolls out there that I can find.

Except Stan Driscoll, who owns the S J Driscoll Company (hi, Stan!). And @sjdriscoll84 on Twitter (hi, Steve!) And my ex used to call me SJ–

The Kristen: Put a sock in it, girl.

So that’s the end of this saga. S.J. Driscoll. For better or worse.

But my friends call me Plally–er, Sally. You could, too.

By S.J. Driscoll

16 thoughts on “Bye-bye, Plally Jane

  1. Francelia Belton (@FranceliaBelton)

    Cute story, Sally. I can relate to the name thing, but my problem has always been that people don’t know how to pronounce it. When growing up, on the first day of school every year, when the teacher pauses at roll call, I know it’s me. And I always say, “here!” 🙂 BTW, it is super easy actually. Just think Fran and Cecelia – Francelia.

  2. Debra Kristi

    Hey! I wasn’t done! Silly fussy internet. Where was I? I think your name sounds great! Nice, strong and commanding. I am one of the rebels that is sticking with my pen name. I have my reasons and I am sticking to them.

  3. Debra Kristi

    Do you plan to publish under the initials? I think that still sounds nice and strong. You’re just used to the K. I guess having the K in my name and relating it to all the german tempers I think of it as rather STRONG

  4. SJ Driscoll

    Thank you, Sharon K.
    See, the K in the middle makes your name balanced, even assertive, but not bossy. Sharon alone, well… Katie is a lovely name, but a little girl’s, no? Kate Owen is strong but not rhythmic. Maybe a D.A. with spike heels. You made the right choice!

  5. Sharon K Owen

    Love your blog Plally and I love your brand.
    I understand the identity crisis. As a kid I was called Sherry and Katie. Was never called Sharon until I was married with kids and working my first job. Sharon sounded more adult somehow. When I signed up for a domain name years ago–I always knew I would need one–Sharon Owen was taken and there were several with various numbers following the letters. But Sharon K Owen was free, so I grabbed it. When I published my first book I used Sharon K Owen for my author name. Now it is my brand everywhere.

  6. asraidevin

    I like SJDriscoll as your brand. I published under Asrai before I found Kristen, so Asrai I am. Though I’ve been Asrai for so long I identify with it better.

    She does get into your head. She only wants what is best for us. Like an angel on your shoulder or your Mom.

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