It’s taken me several years to bite the bullet and seriously consider putting my writing back in to the public arena. When I was younger I didn’t have that problem. I happily sent my work out to publishers. I was of course disappointed when I got rejected, but enough said yes to make up for this. Even when I had a run of rejections I brushed them off and sent out the next batch of letters. I defined myself by my writing. Had you asked what I was, I would have answered “I’m a poet.” It was that simple: Zoe Brooks was a poet. She was other things of course – a daughter, a student, an Oxford graduate, an arts manager, but above all she was a poet.
That stopped as my other roles took over – mother, wife, heritage professional and then, for the last twenty years, inner city regeneration professional. The only person who still introduced me as Zoe Brooks the poet was my friend Hannah Kodicek. I thought it quaint of her and even a little perverse. I felt sometimes she wasn’t valuing me properly. Then about three years ago I started writing once more.
“Will you publish it?” Hannah asked.
“I don’t know. I was thinking maybe I’d use a pseudonym.”
“Mmm,” she said. “Are you sure?”
“Oh yes, I don’t think I could do it any other way. I thought maybe Elizabeth Rivers – Elizabeth is my second name and as for Rivers – Brooks/Rivers.”
She laughed. “That sounds like a cop out, it’s not a real pen-name.”
I’ve thought about it a lot since that conversation. She was right, she usually was. What was I ashamed of? Why was I trying to hide? I decided I would not be ready to publish until I was prepared to use my real name. It’s taken me months to start this blog, but I’ve done it. In a few days I plan to publish my first novel as Zoe Brooks