— Thoughts from my brain space.

What's in a name?


Every writer faces the same dilemma. Do you write under your given name or a pen name? I was given a name at birth and I took a name when I got married, but when I decided to publish my work, I wanted my name to be something I chose. I have already accomplished two big media-related endeavors with my married name, and those are sacred to me, so I didn't want to use it as a writer. I considered my maiden name, but it's way too common and I feared I'd get lost in the publishing world. So, that left the choice of choice. 

When my grandpa's family came over from Norway to the farmlands of the Midwest, their name was changed from Grosfjell (pronounced grohs-fiel) to Grosfield. My grandpa was a farmer who had four daughters, so our Norwegian name stopped with him, but our family honors our roots, and I've always personally felt a deep connection to that branch of my family tree. I even have the Norwegian word for love tattooed on my arm. 

Growing up, my grandparents' farm was a sacred place for me. The carved wooden nameplate that attached to the lamp post in the circle drive read "The Grosfields," and I can't even count how many times I pulled into that driveway for holidays filled with so many beautiful family memories. The photo above is one of our last days at the farm, as we cleaned out decades of memories (sans at least half the family).

Just over a year ago, I lost my grandfather. In fact, I lost all three of my remaining grandparents in the span of three years. It's been rough. Nothing prepares you for losing people, and even more, there's something about being in your 30s that makes you wish you could still gain from their wisdom--something I took for granted most of the rest of my life. I'm quite certain I still don't know how to be an adult, and I feel like maybe they'd have some good advice, you know?

So, my name, my pen name is tribute to my roots, my family, my childhood. It's giving life to something that I want to remember, something that shouldn't be lost. I know it's not the prettiest-sounding name out there, and as my best friend put it, "It's memorable" (haha!), but it's mine. And it's sacred.

Erin Shipps1 Comment