The Brief Life…

…And Untimely Demise of Eileen McCann,
How I Killed Off My Pseudonym

Eileen McCann will be fondly remembered by many, but mostly by her creator/alter-ego, Heather O’Shea. (“I killed off my pseudonym,” O’Shea admitted under questioning.) Eileen McCann sprang (somewhat reluctantly) to life in April, 2013. O’Shea called her forth to write essays on her behalf in her early blogging days.

Eileen served her creator loyally. Back then, O’Shea assumed that every word she wrote would be gobbled up by the entire reading population of the planet. This population, unfortunately, included her high school students. Eileen provided her alter ego with anonymity and the courage to speak freely without worrying about unduly influencing corrupting those students.

What O’Shea 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 (the entire reading population of the planet) may never know it exists.

O’Shea said, sagely, “It is hard to simultaneously publicize something and keep it secret.”

An esteemed teacher friend (yes, I mean you) reminded O’Shea that if she wants to guarantee her students will not read her blog, she should assign it as homework while announcing that there will be no quiz.

Eileen McCann leaves behind one primary survivor, Heather O’Shea, who keeps muttering, “I killed off my pseudonym.”

O’Shea will now stop writing about herself in third person, and take over the blog.

Well, AFter This: Alternate, More Dramatic Ending to Eileen McCann

This morning, at approximately 6:45 am, Eileen McCann was murdered in her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It appears the murder weapon was a pencil. Heather (Eileen) O’Shea, the only suspect, claims that Ms. McCann never existed outside of her imagination.

Ms. O’Shea 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 (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 launch my online writing life under a name that isn’t 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. My grandmother 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 the truth. And I don’t really mind having discovered an excuse to include myself in that list of names above.

So, hi, I’m Heather. I killed off my pseudonym.

6 Replies to “The Brief Life…”

  1. Interesting slant on pseudonyms and pause for thought Heather/Eileen. I see you only knew one grandmother as I only knew one grandparent who was my grandfather. Especially Lovely to have been offered an item that you admired.

  2. 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.

  3. 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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