I’ve sometimes wondered if it wouldn’t be a good idea to write under a few pseudonyms. Keep several quite different lines of writing going. Like Fernando Pessoa, the Portuguese poet who tried four different poetic personalities. They all worked simultaneously. He simply lived with the four. What does Eliot say? “Dance, dance, / Like a dancing bear, / Cry like a parrot, chatter like an ape, / To find expression.” It’s certainly limiting to confine your writing to one public persona, because the moment you publish your own name you lose freedom. It’s like being in a close-knit family. The moment you do anything new, the whole family jumps on it, comments, teases, advises against, does everything to make you self-conscious. There’s a unanimous reaction to keep you as you were. You’d suppose any writer worth his salt could be bold and fearless and not give a damn. But in fact very few can. We’re at the mercy of the groups that shaped our early days. We’re so helplessly social—like cells in an organ. Maybe that’s why madness sometimes works—it knocks out the oversensitive connection. And maybe that’s why exile is good.
Ted Hughes, in Paris Review, n.º 134, Primavera de 1995