Could You, Would You, Be Anonymous?

Back when I was a young girl in elementary school a teacher read a story to our class. I can’t tell you what the name of the story was or the title, but I never forgot the author. “The author of this story is Anonymous,” she said. “Does anyone know what anonymous means?” she asked as she wrote the word in big letters across the chalkboard.

I sat there trying to properly pronounce the word in my mind, curious of whom this Anonymous person was. It was a peculiar name, one I’d never heard, or could barely pronounce. “Anonymous, means unknown,” she explained.

My heart sunk as I tried to process the explanation. How can’t they know who wrote this? I wondered. I had so many questions that I didn’t ask. Like, how was the story found? Did the person regret not letting the world know their name? Why is their identity a secret?

I still find myself asking those same questions every time I see the author listed as Anonymous. This past summer, I read the book Go Ask Alice. I think the fact that the author was Anonymous had a lot to do with the purchase.
I always wanted to come across one of these anonymous authors and pick their brains. In an industry where most of us collect rejections, it seems impossible that a nameless, faceless author would become published, but yet they do. And what is their process? Do they submit just like us? Does someone stumble upon their work, and then take the time to query work that isn’t even theirs? Who gets paid?

I understand someone may choose to be listed as anonymous if a book they are writing may stir up controversy, but what about a poem or a quote? How do these become known and then published. We as writers list quotes everyday on sites such as Twitter or Facebook. Is it possible that one day we will read a quote listed as Anonymous and know it was ours?
Having said all of that, I also want to make it known I always admired Anonymous writers and often asked myself this question, “Could you be Anonymous? Would you be Anonymous?” I never replied with a straight answer. I’d like to think I could but then I say nah probably not. But, I learned a long time ago never say never. Could you be anonymous? Would you be anonymous?

5 Famous Writings by Anonymous Authors
1. Beowulf
2. Arabian Nights: Tales From One Thousand and One Nights
3. (Quote) Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow
4. Go Ask Alice
5. The Book With No Name

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4 Comments

Filed under Fiction, story telling, writer's life, writing, Writing

4 responses to “Could You, Would You, Be Anonymous?

  1. Ah, very interesting post. Never really thought of this before. I think I see the word anonymous and just accept it, not thinking about it any further. But I don’t know if I could, or would, ever want my work listed as anonymous. Writing is such a labor of love, but I still want credit for what I produce. Thanks for the eye-opener.

    • Maribeth

      Thanks for stopping by. I think I’m with you. Although one day I may think something needs to be written but I might not want them to know I’m the one who wrote it. I guess you never know.

  2. I’d like recognition, but I suppose there are reasons to be anonymous.

    There’s a famous saying that anonymous is a woman.

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