Author Unknown

Have you ever wondered who Anonymous is? Now, I’m speaking about Anonymous in the literary sense. You know, those  people who penned the perfect poem, the absolute sublime quote that gets to the heart of our very existence. The internet is filled with these lyrical expressions that all go under the name of Anonymous or Unknown, or Author Unknown. But that is impossible of course. Someone somewhere knows, or knew, who that unknown scribe was, the scribe themselves if no one else. Words do not miraculously appear into the world all on their own. There has to be someone behind them.

A bit of poking around and I quickly discovered mountains of anonymous quotes. Here are a few that I kind of like. Seriously, the list could go on forever.

“Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.” 

 “Everything has been figured out, except how to live.” 

 “Life is not what you live but what you love” 

 “A wise man can see more from the bottom of a well than a fool can from a mountain 

 “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” 

I’m sure there are instances where the writer didn’t start out as “Anonymous” but somewhere along the way someone used their quote without remembering who the author was and, presto, they suddenly became “Anonymous.” But for the most part I think of these anonymous writers as people who perhaps wanted to draw more attention to their words of wisdom then themselves.

I do think there is something to be said about the anonymous writer, who can set their inner most thoughts down without fear or judgment of those around them. Writing is one of those professions that really puts the writer out there under public scrutiny. You only need look at some of the book reviews on Goodreads to know what I’m talking about. I’ve read some pretty despairing comments about some of my best beloved authors and books that I absolutely loved.

Expressing oneself though the written word is a little tricky by times— words of course being as powerful as they are whether spoken, written or thought. It is our way of communicating, of showing others another way of viewing the world. While some try to force their idea onto others, many people use words as a vehicle to put their ideas, believes, values, and thoughts about life into the world, and hopefully, others will appreciate what the author has to say. Some writers do this by creating people, places and events, and if we take time to examine the words within those stories we’ll often find some hidden treasure. Other writers don’t shy away from what it is they wish to express. They can get down to the real nitty-gritty of what’s on their minds. And thank goodness for that since not everyone is interested in treasure-hunting nor do they have the tools to unlock those buried nuggets. Some of us simply read for the love of a good story, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I have wondered from time to time what words would surface in my writing if I were anonymous. I do think that it would make a difference in the stories, or even blog posts, that I might produce. I’m sure there are times when many writers pull back, even a little, for fear of what others might think or wonder about them. I’ve had people say, “I don’t know what thoughts go through your head” or that my thoughts even scare them. Honestly, I think we all have our share of scary thoughts that go no farther than our own minds. Writers put these thoughts on paper for everyone to see, and that’s where the difference comes in.

Anonymous brings freedom with it, the shedding off of people’s judgment of our words and perhaps we’d be more willing to share the thoughts of “Anonymous”, hand down those precious words though the ages than, say, some writer with the last name “Best.” That’s just an example, I’m not insinuating that my words are profound or at all inspiring, but you know what I mean.

Have you ever given thought to the “Anonymous” writer? If you were “Anonymous” do you think it would change the way you express yourself in the world?

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  1. I have considered using a pen name — I still might later on. I look at bloggers who use pseudonyms and wonder if they would be so candid about their lives and ideas if they had their real name attached to it.

    I also think there’s something romantic about anonymity. It’s mysterious. We have no idea who they are or where they came from, and what experiences may have lead them to write this. It does put more focus on the words rather than the author, but at the same time draws attention to how much of our identity is tied to our name and the freedom being “Anonymous” must have. Now I’m intrigued. 😉

    Great post!


    • I have to agree with you, Libby, on bloggers who use a pseudonym. Some blogs are very candid. I would think it would be easier for the blogger who was “Unknown.” although some people don’t see to worry about putting it all “out there.”
      Glad you enjoyed the post!


  2. What an interesting question, Laura. My answer is YES. I care far too much what people will think of me. I often wish I’d chosen to write under a pseudonym … and I may do that eventually.


    • No, I totally get that, Linda. Throwing caution to the winds and not caring what others think is a difficult thing to shake.Now I’m curious, if you wrote under a pseudonym would that mean that your friends and family would never know the truth? I’m thinking if that were me I’d wait until I had a runaway best seller. Then I might spill the beans. 😉


  3. Hmmm, are there times when I’d like to make a snarky response, but don’t because of what others might think of me? Yes, but at the same time *not* being anonymous means there’s a little extra incentive to behave myself, which I should do anyway — a kind of ‘count to ten’ before saying something I might be sorry for later.

    In my novel writing, though?… no, I don’t think anonymity would suit me now. When I first started blogging I used my Careann pseudonym, thinking that being anonymous offered a bit of security in cyberspace. As a writer I needed the ‘real me’ to be out there, so I soon threw off the cloak. Hiding behind anonymity would immediately add an element of dishonesty to my writing — “I’m not who you think I am” — so any authenticity I wanted my words to have would be tainted from the start.

    I think the only place I see validity in being anonymous is for an author who wants to write in different genres, and that’s not being exactly anonymous but rather re-establishing oneself under a different name. That’s my take on it, anyway. 🙂


    • I thought what you had to say about anonymity adding an element of dishonesty to your writing was very interesting. I hadn’t thought of that.

      I do understand using a pseudonym when writing in different genres especially if the two genres are far removed from one another. The part I don’t understand with that is are the people closest to you left in the loop? Or do you continue to hide from them as well or simply the general public? I’m trying to consider if I were to write in a totally different genre if I would let anyone know. Hmmm..I suppose it would have to do with the genre I was writing in, although I couldn’t ever see myself writing anything too far “out there.” Interesting thoughts, Carol,


  4. I sometimes struggle with writing what I want with writing what I feel safe for others to read. There were times in earlier stories where I’d squash an idea because it seemed to risky for me, and I didn’t want family or friends to read it. I’m much better now. I write freely, as if no one is watching and no one will read it. The more I write, the better I get at it.

    I know many writers write as if the reader is looking over their shoulder, and they are worried about every little thing. I was that person in my teens. I shared nothing with anyone.

    If a quote from one of my books ended up as a popular anonymous quote, I think I’d grin each time I read it, knowing, but not telling, that I wrote it.


    • I have had that feeling of having someone looking over my shoulder, but I try now to ignore it. While, I’m fine with my work being read once it’s published I struggle with sharing my unpublished work with some of my writing friends.

      Hopefully, one day a quote from one of your books will end up being an anonymous quote. In this crazy world of writing and publishing one just never knows.



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