The first Internet forum I ever got involved in was RfM.
I hardly knew what an Internet forum was in those days, but I read a bunch of the archived threads and wanted to join in the conversation. To do that, I needed a handle.
For a couple of seconds I thought about picking something Mormon-related. But that was the one constant shared by everyone on the board, and I figured it would be better to go with a name that highlighted something unique about me. So I decided to take my first name (Carol) and translate it into French. Thus chanson was born.
Over the next couple of years I as used this same handle on a bunch of different forums (fora?), I discovered a couple of amusing things: (1) not everyone speaks French, and (2) "chanson" -- as a username -- looks a lot like C. Hanson. I thought it was kind of funny that people made that assumption, so I figured "Hell, let's roll with it!"
In a lot of ways my novel grew out of my online adventures, so I decided to use my new identity as my pen-name. (Or nom de plume if I'm sticking with my snooty French-isms.) I threw in "L" as a middle initial partially because my real initials are C.L.H. and partially in honor of Lynn, the main character of my novel. It's fiction -- not autobiography -- but my pen-name is fictional as well, so maybe it's the real autobiography of the fictional author...?
A funny side note is that that means my fictional pen-name in full should be "Carol Lynn Hanson." Of course that immediately calls to mind Carol Lynn Pearson, and you might think I did it on purpose. But you would be wrong: it's pure coincidence. I don't have any connection with Carol Lynn Pearson except the obvious (we're both women who write about Mormons from a Mormon perspective). She's also something of a mother-figure to the LDS gay community -- see Connell's fabulous story for a bit of what I'm talking about -- and sometimes I like to imagine myself in a similar role. (I don't know if any actual gay people think of me that way, but perhaps I'm sending them a subtle motherly vibe.)
My real name isn't much of a secret -- if you follow this blog, you've probably figured it out already. I don't post my real name here though because I use my real name professionally. I have a new Java book coming out in a little more than a month, and when my professional contacts google my name, I want my Java books and other professional writings to come up, not this... ;^)
Then there's the other part of my Internet name: my blog title "Letters from a Broad..." Peter Walters (who I met through exmo-social) came up with the name. For the first six months of this blog's life, it was a column in the (now-defunct) student paper the Utah Valley Monitor (which Peter founded).
I liked this name from the beginning because it reminded me of when I was a kid and the same ridiculous pun got me included in a boys' club (they wanted to be the "Traveler Society of America and Abroad" but for that of course they needed a broad...). I can't tell if it's feminist or anti-feminist of me to have decided to go with (and stick with) this blog name. Really, I don't mean anything by it, and it kind of weirdly seems to fit the theme of the blog, so I'm planning to stick with it.
Sometimes the names people use on the Internet seem more real than people's actual names. Your Internet handle is something you've made up for yourself, and it usually means something -- it's not just something chosen for you by earlier generations. On the other hand, it seems like most serious long-term internauts end up just using their real names eventually.
And you -- does your name have a story?