What’s in a Name?


I am setting up a square space website because I want to be well-represented in the ether. It makes me feel like an adult. That’s not the point of this. Anyway, I’m clicking Yes I’ll try a free trial – which we all know isn’t actually free because who actually remembers to call and cancel, I mean, really – and it asks me to create an account. I sat staring at the first two fields, my thumbs poised and ready to fire: First and Last name. And I hover. Frozen. 

The cursor blinks at me. Tapping its foot. It warps and wiggles as it transforms into a cursor-sized girl. Let’s say 10 years old. Mary Janes and ruffle socks. A pink corduroy jumper and a headband holding heroism pigtails back. She leans against the field bar. Crosses her arms. 


-First and Last name? Easy. Sam Callahan. 

-Whoa whoa whoa!! Sam Callahan??? This page is serious. This is It. You decided long ago that your SAG name would be Sam Callahan and your nom de plume would be Samantha Devon. 

-But what if this is It, also? The other It…?

-What other “it?”

-What if this is all I do. What if this is all I’m good at. Wouldn’t I want it to be my real name? My superstar name? This was all thought up when I was convinced I’d reach Golden Celebrity status before ever thinking of writing a book. Who wants to waste their Best Name on their secondary fame, that may not even come!

-You know that being a famous actor is way sexier than famous writer. And you know Sam Callahan is a sexier name. Samantha Devon is an intellectual and a poet. Sam Callahan is a–is a —



-But you are so proud of your family name, just like me. 

-I am…

-Wouldn’t you want to see that name – Your Name – on the lists of the New York Times? On the bestsellers’ section at  McNally Jackson’s?(~support local book stores!~)


-What’s the point of a pseudonym anyway?

-Lots of reasons… Protection, is one. 

-From whom?

beat. She scowls, takes a breath. She paces along the field box– Inner demons, I guess. Publishing anonymously tricks us into thinking no one will read it. If no one knows it’s you, it’s not as embarrassing.  

-It is terrifying, isn’t it?

-Mortifying.  –beat– Your name is your identity. For most of us. Our name = us. Our sense of self. You see your name written, you recognize it. Not in your mind. But in your fingertips. In your belly button and your ears. Little tugs and glows that remind us who we are. I am Sam Callahan. I’ve read it, heard it, said it, and embedded it for years and years and years… –takes a breath– …There’s a level of freedom that comes when you write under a Not-Your-Name name. You allow yourself to act rashly. To pursue vehemently. Explore reckl— –stops– you allow yourself… to be completely honest in the moment. Raw on the page. When you remove yourself – your Self; your Name – you remove the shame, guilt, and visceral fear. Perhaps most importantly, you remove The Pride. With The Pride out, you are more open to what makes for a well-rounded character and an interesting story: flaws, fuck ups, and failures. 

  So…should I use a nom de plume? Should I stick with what identifies me? Or don the mask?  


My Life in Craft Services


Idea for a new book, developed via conversation with a lovely lady with whom I work. Or maybe a blog, on its own … called “My Life in Craft Services”. First entry: “‘-Ey! You want a meatball?” ….

It was a normal day in the west village, a bit brisk, but we were outside on the stoop, taking a little peanut butter and jelly break, and we noticed a drool-worthy smell wafting from a tin truck parked in front of the church, and, both of us having worked on a film set before, we recognized it immediately: Catering at Crafty! Oohh, how scrumptious the scents, how penetrating — we were both Buggs Bunny, floating along the current of cooking meats and roasting vegetables.

This started a spattering of stories between us — that one time she was on set for Stuart Little, the other time I was on set for a few of the projects I’ve worked on, and then we moved on to my first few months in New York, when I was traveling among different film sets, asking people if they needed a hand.

“Did you actually get work?”

She and her crew couldn’t believe it. (to be honest, neither could I, really, but there you have it.)

So, that led to us riffing about how to score four breakfast burritos from the cart tomorrow morning. We landed with dressing up our second carpenter in my tool belt, equipping him with my gaff tape, a radio in his ear, and a big ring of keys. For anybody who actually works on set, it’s sort of amusing to make a caricature out of a gaffer or an AD. We were throwing out things for him to say — we’d have to find out which TV show was filming down the street, then have him go up to the chef and start making small talk. “Chilly weather we’re having, huh? Freaking Crazy. Those poor guys are on fire watch and I’m sent over to grab ’em some breakfast burritos. BUt, let’s be real, a little fire would totally toast us up! Lucky you, in that oven of a tin truck!” and, then, come back with four breakfast burritos and extra guac, and four coffees …….

So that’s the idea for my next book. I’m going to go around to different shoots and eat only from craft services. How does that sound to you??