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What's in a Name

Identity. Heritage. (dis)Honor.

There are many reasons that I chose to write under a new name. Androgynous names are still more likely to be published than female names, no matter how progressive our culture has become. What I write can be deeply personal and this name gives me the false sense that I am separating my writing from my life. Thus, giving me the freedom to be fully real. But mostly, my name is not mine. So, I chose a new one.

I love my first name, I always have. It's Chandra, Sanskrit for moon. Derived from Chandraghanta, the third form of Goddess Durga. Known for bestowing grace, courage, and bravery upon her followers. Also, always, mispronounced. But I'm not Madonna or Prince, so a self-standing Chandra, just won't cut it.

My middle name, Lynn, was chosen because it rhymes with Quinn. My elder brother’s middle name. I have no connection to it myself.

But it is my last name that is the curve ball that drove my choice. I don't have one that belongs to me. You see, I am a woman. My maiden name was my father's. My married name was my husband's. But neither were mine.

On top of that notion, I was happy to be rid of my maiden name. I had spent years trying to escape the life and the family that came with it. To remove myself from their title was a glorious day. I no longer had to meet with strangers who would see my name and know who I belonged to and the stories that went along with it. My father has a reputation and it's not a good one. And when I got divorced, I didn't want to take it back.

I kept my married name after my divorce for two reasons. The first being that I could still share the name of my children. The second, I could not go back to what I was before, but I couldn’t go without.

Without my own name, I need to come up with something that I could call my own. I stewed over it for years and in a short conversation with a near stranger, it hit me. A name that represents me in more ways than one and can begin to encompass who I actually am. So, from here on out, when I set pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) I will be known as C. S. Phoenix.


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