This past December I received my first ever short story acceptance for a holiday horror anthology which will be published later this year. In the acceptance email from the editor—none other than the amazing Gabino Iglesias, author of the acclaimed Coyote Songs—he asked if I should be addressed as Shell, Shelly, or Vashelle. When I submitted the story I used my “ShellNino” email but signed the submission as “Vashelle”, and I also included my (at the time) twitter handle “Shelly_Revels”. I hadn’t realized how confusing it might be for someone who doesn’t know me yet, and I’m grateful he didn’t throw out my story on confusion and inconvenience alone.
People always butchered my name when I was growing up. Teachers called me all kinds of interesting things: Vershelle, Vah-shelle, Vashelley, and the list goes on. Kids called me things like Vagisil and Valhalla. And since I’ve always had a little sass in me, people who called me Michelle would get the neck roll and lip-smack, “IT’S VASHELLE WITH A V.” But by middle school I had grown weary of explaining, so I did something about it. Yep, at the ripe old age of twelve I had had enough of everyone’s shit. At the time, my family and I had just moved back to the states from Germany. It was a big change for me as I loved Germany and did not want to leave. So I decided Vashelle’s spirit would stay there and Virginia would get this new kid called Shelly.
Shelly had a good run in Virginia, where we lived for about two years. You could say I had a harder time leaving there than I did Germany cause it was the end of 7th grade and, you know, friends and boyfriend and fun summer evenings. Might as well start anew again. Texas, meet Vashelle.
From that point forward I’d go by Vashelle. The exceptions were my family, who have always called me Shell except when I’m in trouble and get the VASHELLE CHRISTINE! treatment, and my friends and boyfriends who would eventually started calling me Shell too. When it came to teachers or anyone else I’d always prefer to be called by my real name.
:: The Internet has entered the chat ::
This is where the name thing got sticky for me. Not too many Vashelles out there which means I’m easily googleable. And if you’ve got Scorpio in your chart as I do, you know that is a literal fresh hell nightmare. The very first time I googled my name I came up on one of those sites that lists all your personal information like birthday, address, phone number, etc. It had a picture of my supposed house on it which in fact wasn’t my house, and that might’ve been a relief if the house pictured wasn’t an actual shack. How were all my exes gonna see me thriving if Google was doing me like this? Ugh.
Later, when I was a new high school teacher, an editor for an education site approached me about writing a “Why I Teach” essay. I happily agreed, only to have the essay “edited” into something that in no way resembled my writing voice. It was awful! And it became one of the top links to come up on my name search. Not to mention a piece one of my students wrote for the school’s news column when I decided to move from the classroom to the library and she said I was leaving teaching for blogging??
From then on I hesitated to use my real name for anything that wasn’t under my own control. I started using Shelly again because there had to be a bazillion other Shellys or people using Shelly as an alias, and try finding me in my shack now, ex boyfriends!
Google is 23 years old now. That’s 23 years of learning on my part. (And yours too, I’m sure.) I’d like to think I’ve grown wiser about the whole thing, not to mention I’m at the age of not giving fucks about what others find or think of me.
As I wrap this up, this draft has red squiggles all over it, in every place where my name is typed. There’s nothing incorrect about my name. There’s nothing incorrect about me or my journey. And from now on it’s Vashelle—with a V!
Find me here: