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  • Writer's pictureKate Clinch

What's in a Name?


Have you ever wondered, who am I? Sometimes, the question arises from the still-point in the midst of meditation. More often, it comes when Life ambushes us, kidnaps us and ties us, kicking and screaming into a roller-coaster carriage that hurtles us into apparent oblivion. It’s the stuff of legends. An unexpected drama upends life as we know it. Illness, divorce or death call us out of the ordinary, catapulting us into our very own version of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. It’s the stuff from which all great stories are spun. The characters in our novels act it out for us, and now and then we embody it in our own lives. That’s the time when a writer stops writing, and instead lives her own story.

That’s what I’ve been doing, these past couple of years: living out my own hero’s journey, in the context of my own life and body.

But I’m back now. And, like the archetypal hero described by Campbell, I have come back with new perspectives and understanding that I can share. Later. Through the new novel I am working on, where Death is one of the main characters. And so is Hope.

The changes in my life have led to another question, less important, perhaps, but the more I have contemplated it, the deeper it takes me. It seems like a simple question. But it isn’t… What is my name? What am I called?

When I first began ‘going public’ about my writing, with tentative baby steps, part of me wanted to stay invisible. And so, I decided to write under a pseudonym. Kate Achiara. Achiara is an odd name to choose for publicity purposes. It’s unknown, and it’s hard to spell. The name presented itself to me almost a decade ago, at a profound time in my spiritual journey and encompassed layers of personal meaning.

Of course, once it came, I googled it. Without the A, it derives from a Sanskrit word, kirana, a ray or beam of light. In Italian, Chiara is a version of Clara, and means light, clear. Interestingly, in Irish it means dark, ‘little dark one’ or dark-haired; a feminine form of Ciaran, as in St Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. For an author who writes about Light and shadow, saints and metaphysics, it seemed perfect.

But the Universe clearly has a sense of humour. Choosing a pseudonym so I could be invisible, and discovering that it means both a beam of light and something dark… Dear Universe, I see the irony.

At last, I am ready to return to this tiny but public space and continue the work involved in getting my stories into the hands of readers.

Renewed and resurrected, I am willing to be visible, and write under my maiden name. Kate Clinch. My name before marriages and divorces, before illness and near-death experiences. Like Campbell’s archetypal hero, I’ve come full circle now. I have returned to myself and come back transformed -and I still have tales to tell.


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