Why I Write as The Behrg
Probably the number one question I’m asked, as an author, is why “The Behrg.”
How did I come up with it as a pseudonym?
Why write under a pseudonym (especially in today’s age)?
Why not use a “normal” pseudonym?
What the $#!& does it mean?
With my debut novel, Housebroken, about to be published by Kindle Press, I thought I might shed some light on at least a few of these questions. In doing so, I’m reminded of the lyrics of one of my favorite U2 songs (wondering, at the same time, how many favorite U2 songs a person can have).
“You wanted to get somewhere so badly You had to lose yourself along the way You change your name, well that’s okay, it’s necessary And what you leave behind you don’t miss anyway”
In my mind, each of us has multiple personas, the sum of which make up who we are. For instance, I’m a father, a husband, a friend, a brother and son, a grandson, an executive, a salesman, a musician, an actor, a writer, a horrible handyman, an extrovert, an introvert, a dreamer, a doer, a thinker, an observer, a child of God.
All of these, and so much more, play into the equation that makes up who I am. These parts, working together, determine, to some degree, my actions and inactions, my thoughts and aspirations, my failures and successes. Add to them all of the outside influences that have shaped and continue to mold my life, and we get a very complicated and unique individual.
So it is with each of us. It’s so simple to stereotype a person, or think we understand someone’s motives (or lack of motives). But our views of someone will always be tainted by our perspective, upbringing, and understanding.
This is why I love writing.
It enables me to get out of my own head and enter someone else’s, someone who thinks and acts so differently than I would. Someone whose background and upbringing is in polar opposite to mine own. It enables me to understand people. To look beyond their decisions or reactions and see the infinite array of numbers in the equation that makes them who they are. It creates a unique form of empathy, not only for the characters I create (or discover, as they tend to create themselves), but for everyone with whom I come in contact. While I’m secure in my own mode of beliefs, I’m also secure in knowing each person sees the world a little differently than I do. It’s what makes this world so amazing and complete.
So as part of the grand sum of ingredients which have evolved into the man I am today, I have the persona of The Behrg. It’s the name by which most of my family, and a few key friends, call me. My nieces and nephews, in fact, only know me as “Unkie Behrg.” Each of my siblings—we’re five in total—have nicknames which, for whatever deranged reason, stuck. We rarely call each other by anything other than these names, and when we do it feels a little awkward.
“The Behrg” is my creative self.
It’s a part of me I celebrate.
Most people, when choosing a pseudonym, are looking to hide their real identity. In my case, it’s quite the opposite. I’m looking to expose it. To open a part of myself, otherwise kept hidden, to the world. So rather than publish under my own name, or a normal sounding pseudonym (which I considered, publishing several short stories under the name “Clayton Behrg”), I decided to allow my true self to be shown to the public. Or at least a part of my true self.
Referring back to the U2 lyrics, which I love so dearly, I don’t think any of us have to “lose [ourselves] along the way.” Instead we’re constantly finding ourselves. Discovering ourselves. Reinventing ourselves. We each have a lifetime to continue adding numbers to the equation that makes up who we are. Don’t be afraid to share that with those around you. Celebrate who you are. Celebrate the differences in others. And make sure your equation never ends.