The Brief Life and Untimely Demise of Eileen McCann

The Untimely Demise

Eileen McCann will be fondly remembered by many, but mostly by her creator and alter-ego, Heather O’Shea. Eileen McCann sprang (somewhat reluctantly) to life in April, 2013, when she was called forth to write essays on Heather’s behalf (details below, if you are interested).

Eileen served her creator loyally in those early blogging days when she assumed that every word she wrote would be consumed eagerly by the entire reading population of the planet, which would, unfortunately, include her high school students. Eileen provided her alter ego with anonymity and the courage to speak freely without worrying about unduly influencing those students.

What the author has realized in these few months of blogging is that her problem isn’t that people she doesn’t want reading her blog will read it, it’s that the people she hopes will read her blog (basically, the entire literate population of the world) may never know it exists. She has learned that  it is hard to simultaneously publicize something and keep it secret. She was also reminded by an esteemed teacher (you know who you are) that if she wants to ensure that her students will not read her blog, all she need do is assign it as homework while announcing that there will be no quiz. (And in case I forget to assign it, and a student happens to be reading this, I mean no disrespect. You are busy people and I understand that you need to prioritize.)

Eileen McCann leaves behind one primary survivor, Heather O’Shea, who will now stop writing about herself in third person, and take over the blog.

Alternate, More Dramatic Ending to Eileen

This morning, at approximately 6:45 am, Eileen McCann was reported murdered in her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It appears the murder weapon was a pencil. There is only one key suspect at this time: Heather (Eileen) O’Shea, whose only alibi is her claim that Ms. McCann never existed outside of her imagination. Ms. O’Shea is under suspicion primarily because she insists that she in fact, wrote all of the posts on the critically acclaimed blog, Live Love

At this point, no body has been found, and no arrests have been made.

The Brief Life (by that I mean April, 2013-June, 2013)

I spent many hours of my childhood reading Nancy Drew books. I don’t remember how old I was when I learned that their author, Carolyn Keene, didn’t exist.  Carolyn Keene wasn’t even a pseudonym with one direct referent; lots of different people were paid $125 per book to be Carolyn Keene and keep a secret.

It was hard for me to decide to launch my online writing life under a name that isn’t entirely my own. Tim O’Brien said “A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.” I like to think this is one of those second things. Eileen is my middle name. McCann is my father’s mother’s maiden name. She was the only grandparent I ever knew. She was the type of woman you had to be careful not to compliment, because if you admired something, she gave it to you. She died when I was a teenager, but I still have an off-white plate with gold-flecks that she gave me, and a pale blue sweater with white piping and four tiny pockets that hasn’t fit me for decades.

I don’t remember feeling betrayed when I learned the truth about Carolyn Keene. I stuck with Nancy Drew even through the cook book. Since then I’ve learned about lots of other writers who used pseudonyms. Think Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Voltaire. And of course, the practice of adopting a second name isn’t limited to writers. Think Bono, Billie Holiday, Mother Teresa.

So, I’m Eileen McCann, and I’m not Eileen McCann. I felt like I should tell you that. And I don’t really mind having discovered an excuse to include myself in that list of names above.

5 Replies to “The Brief Life and Untimely Demise of Eileen McCann”

  1. Sitting down on a cold summer day with a pot of coffee to enjoy your blog. (OK, that’s a phrase that just wouldn’t have made sense when we first met, instead sounding like the sentence just trailed off into incoherence.) Loved the description of your grandma.

  2. A modern and motivated Nancy Drew or Harriet the Spy could have figured out it was you by about the 4th story. Eileen McCann’s demise was inevitable, my friend. Professor Plum must’ve knocked some sense into you with the candlestick in the library.

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