I was born Zbigniew Guzlowski in a refugee camp in Germany after the war. My father loved that name Zbigniew. When he was a kid, there was some famous wrestler or soccer player who had that name, and my dad wanted me to have it.
When we came to the US, we discovered that no one in the US could pronounce my name. I was a kid and kids liked to make fun of my name. They called me big shoe and zigzag and bishop and zubby and on and on. I put up with this for 18 years.
When I became a citizen, I legally changed my name to John. Every American can say John. (Although most Americans have trouble with Guzlowski--but that's another story.)
When I started writing and publishing, I decided to use Zbigniew Guzlowski as my name. I thought it would catch the eye of any editor. It was a time when Czeslaw Milosz and Zbigniew Herbert and Wisława Szymborska and other great Eastern European Writers were getting a lot of notice. You understand, I'm sure.
When my mom, a Polish immigrant, heard I wanted to use Zbigniew, she blew a fuse and said I couldn't do it. I was 32 and she was telling me I couldn't!
Of course, I listened.
I was an American now, my mom said, and had to have an American name.