As it turns out, quite a lot. An entire identity. My whole life. Or maybe I should say – lives. I was born Rayanne Cake, to Keith and Patty. Yes, Patty Cake. Now that’s name! (and one she more than lives up to.) Cake was a name I enjoyed for 19 years. It was a name that represented my childhood. Under that name I was the farm girl, the girl that wanted to become a star, the girl that was loud and fun and desperately naïve. I miss that girl, but she certainly isn’t who I am today.
Then I became Rayanne Doucet. It’s a name I’ve worn for 24 years. I married this name. I was young and in love, and had two babies with this name. I became a single mom with this name. I struggled and fought, educated myself and re-built with this name. It’s a beautiful name and it represents so much of my life. I feel immense pride with regards to this name, but also immense sorrow. This is a name that I should have let go of on the day of my divorce 16 years ago, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t willing to carry a different name than my children. And maybe I wasn’t willing to let go of that identity either.
And now, I sit here today and I look at that name and know, deep down in my bones, that I’m not her anymore. I haven’t been for a long time.
This year I will publish the first of three books to come. In summer 2017, I publish Fire Born – book one in the Guardian series. In spring 2018, I publish Magic Born, book two in the series. Both are out with Soul Mate Publishing, a boutique publisher out of New York.
Also in spring 2018 my novel-in-verse, Stained with the Colours of Sunday Morning, comes out with Inanna Press, a feminist press out of Toronto’s York University.
I’ve thought long and hard about who I was when I wrote these books and about who I want to be known as, as an author. I’ve thought for years about this. I’ve spoken with professionals. I’ve hired consultants. But mostly I’ve listened to my heart.
As I move into this next phase of my life I recognize that I am Rayanne Haines. It’s who I’ve seen myself as for a very long time. I’ve lived as this person for eight years, even if I didn’t know it. And it’s who I want to be known as.
I’m choosing to write under the name Rayanne Haines because it feels true and I believe in that woman. I like her, in fact I love her.
And when I finally marry my lover this September, legally taking his name will feel like coming home. It’s that simple.