In certain corners of the internet, I’ve been Alden for ten years.
My first fanfiction under the penname was released in 2003, the day I turned thirteen years old. One of the many indelible effects growing up during the birth of the Internet: practising my writing seriously for the first time in full view of the public, albeit under a pseudonym. The fanfics are still out there, by the way; I tracked down my old profile to verify that date, and they’ll be publicly available until the day Fanfiction.net finally burns to the ground.
In 2005, I joined MZPtv (then just MZP), a fresh-faced fourteen year old with big screenwriting dreams. Again, I developed in public: the two disastrous pilot seasons, the stumbling first attempts at episodic writing, the growth and development. Petulance and maturity, depression and excitement, all here on the Internet. There were years where I lived more fully on MZP than in real life, though that’s something I’ve since moved away from. Eight years later I’m still there, though a ghost now compared to my activity in earlier years. It’s still a second home of sorts, though.
And today, June 1st, 2013, Alden Caele dies. In a sense.
I started university in 2008, and ever since, I’ve been developing at a much faster rate. I’ve been learning professional-type things, like leveraging relationships, personal branding, thematic resonance. And in the year since school ended, I’ve already set up three projects in development with players much bigger than I. Not the Emmy I keep one eye on at all times, but still a seismic shift in how I’m supposed to view myself.
I’m a professional now, in a sense. I can’t live off my writing (at least consistently), but I can call myself a writer without wincing and ducking my face into one hand. I juggle a slate of potential projects, scheduling my weeks and building a portfolio. I’m a long ways off from being what I want to be, but just the start has changed everything.
And the one thing that keeps chafing is my double life. Managing two different existences under two different names, even as the worlds keep mixing. I connect people from one world to those in the other. A project I write under one name gets traction under the other. I use a model of development from one as a training tool in the other. I tweet to people in both of my universes, wondering how they organically stay separate, and if that will always be the case.
I feel like I’m trapped in a Kyle Killen show. (TV nerds, get the reference?)
Deciding to merge my two worlds has been a decision I’ve agonised over. I have friends of almost a decade who know me exclusively as Alden. Meanwhile, I doubt many people in my offline life have followed the breadcrumbs from my Twitter or this blog to discover my life as Alden. But as I get older and as those worlds get more and more intertwined, it was inevitable.
So. Starting now:
My virtual series and online work will be under the name RJ Alden Lackie. My online usernames will be altered to reflect the chance. My professional work will be under the name RJ Lackie. Divided still, but the same name ultimately.
My first script under my new semi-pseudonym is scheduled to air at TheVPN on July 28th. I wrote three scripts for Easy, a script series by my good friend and longtime collaborator Tom East. I wrote episodes seven, nine and ten for the show’s first season, and those will go up in July and September. And thereafter, everything will be different.
It’s a change that’s been a long time. Now, I feel apprehension about it, but come the day of the change I expect is will more resemble a sigh of relief.