How Not to Make a Name for Yourself

I grew up in a family where no one was called by their real name. Unless you were in trouble, in which case your first name was crisply pronounced and your middle name was thrown in for good measure. And, of course, if you were found responsible for some irreparable damage your last name was tacked on, but you usually couldn’t hear it above the steely sounds of a long kitchen knife being sharpened.

No, instead of our real names, we were all given nicknames.

And I think this might have been fun if the names were those that described some of our perceived awesomeness. But none of them did.

I actually liked the name my folks assigned to me—my real one that is. But rare was the day when someone just called me Shelley rather than Shelley Belly. Or worse, Shelbert Bellus. Or even Shelbert Bellus the Third.

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I remained befuddled as a child as to why anyone would make the mistake of naming someone something so dreadful the first time around, and then repeat it for two further generations.

Even the cat and the dog could not opt out in my childhood home. The cat was called Die Spitten de Scratchin’

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and the dog Die Arfen Barker.

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It must be explained that these are names my dad labeled the animals whilst we, his kids, were all studying German in school, and he felt like participating in our nightly lessons so he’d not be left out.

I love the study of names—am truly fascinated by it—which is somewhat unusual in the fact that I can never remember anybody’s. I have tried all types of games and mnemonics, including word association, drilling in that one thing that is most likely to allow the person’s name to spring back into my head from the mere thought of that crucial clue. But I often forget ‘the crucial clue,’ or when seeing this person’s face again I’m at a total loss as the only thing that comes to mind is the word spatula or the phrase just like the disease.

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Not terribly helpful. And in many cases, offensive if I make the wrong guess.

As a writer of fiction, I am given the opportunity to name as many people as I want to invent. It is one of the most joyful parts of writing stories next to cashing in the abundant checks that nearly freeflow from your publisher’s bank account to your mailbox.

Or so I’m told.

I noticed recently while working on two of my books, that both my main characters take issue with their names. Here’s an excerpt from one:

Sophie—it is so not the right name for me. And it does nothing to inspire the coolness of my clan—or breed—or whatever you want to call my people. It should have been something like Zaharasta or Valentina. Something that took a couple of years to learn how to spell.

And an excerpt from the other:

My name is Opal, but I don’t spell it that way. It now looks like this: OPL. I kicked out the A. I figure if Mom wants me to lose weight, maybe she’d perk up if at least my name shrunk by twenty-five percent.

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See what I mean?

To be frank, I’m pretty sure I spent more time deliberating over the names of all the characters in my books than I did deciding on those of my children.

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But seeing as I didn’t get into novel writing until just after having my second child, it might not hold as much weight.

OR … it might indicate some latent unhappiness with my impetuous and perfunctory labeling of the two human beings I birthed.

See? This whole author thing might only be a physical manifestation of a deep, rueful regret I’ve ignored and carried around for years and have been unconsciously wrestling with until I feel I’ve sorted out the perfect name for both my kids.

I wonder how they’re going to react when in a year or two I approach them with an amended birth certificate and the announcement that I have legally changed their names to that which I find more befitting of who they truly are?

(Note to self: check with therapist to see if there exists any disorder that points toward birth name buyer’s remorse.)

Currently, I’m struggling with the title for one of my finished books. Nothing feels right. Nothing sounds right. And I think we all know how critical one’s novel title is, right? It’s the first thing you see, the first thing you read. It has to hit you right between the eyes with this come hither look.

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I emailed my agent a list of potentials from a thick notebook I’ve been carrying around and filling up. She wrote back and intimated I might have just killed a small tree for nothing—only in much nicer English.

I’m rethinking the whole title thing though. I’m thinking of pitching the publisher an idea that maybe instead of a title, we just go with a scent. I write about food and whisky and history. Why not make the books give off an aroma of chocolate and scotch and mothballs?

It might be the newest thing in publishing.

Or I may receive a curt reply back from my editor asking me to stop sending him emails and to just find a damn title we’re all happy with.

So seeing how my name is beginning to accrue more than my fair share of black marks against it, I’d best get back to work. Or soon my name is mud.

~Jane Doe

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*ROBIN GOTT’s NEW POST* (click)

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

102 thoughts on “How Not to Make a Name for Yourself

  1. Now you’ve done it. You’ve hit upon my family’s curse of names as well. We three children are named names that are difficult to shorten, or forget, it seems–Ardys, Lance and Sheldon. What a bunch of weirdos everyone thought we were 55 years ago in primary school! And all because when my Mom was born, my Grandfather wanted a boy, so he called her ‘Jimmy’, which stuck until after she was married, when she announced she would no longer answer to it, but to her real name Ula Grace. The only two people who were never able to make the transition were the two Grandfathers, old dogs and all… Everyone else obliged. I am never happy if anyone tries to shorten my name, so I share your displeasure over it. Your real name is perfectly lovely and suits you to the ground! Funny post, and BTW I like the cover design for Dear Opl, clever. xx

    • What a great story, Ardys. It reminds me of the old Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue.” Love that one.
      And funny enough, there are four kids in my family and each one of the first three were girls in a spot apparently reserved for a “Peter John” who never showed up. When at last my brother was born they just named him Steve. Sheesh.
      xox

  2. Love it Shelley, or is that Jane?

    And I cannot help but laugh at your nickname. Our second daughter simply cannot comprehend why we gave her the name we did. For years she’d been called Shelley Belly, then became Shell Bell, but as Aussie so frequently do, we shortened that to Shell. I guess two syllables takes too long to say or uses up too much energy, but rest assured, if you want her attention quickly, a sharp ‘Michelle Anne’ will have her head turned your way in no time.

    Good luck seeking your title, perhaps it will arrive like a revelation in the middle of the night.

    Clare

  3. Thanks! I loved this post and the illustrations!!! Since my name is Hector (The one who protects, being its meaning) people just called me Hec when I lived in the USA, but as it sounded like heck, they ended up calling me Mr. Sampson, true story. My mother called me so many nicknames that I told her I would need to carry an ID with me all the time, in case someone asked me what my real name was! With so many nicknames I would have trouble remembering it.

    • Hector is a great name – and not one commonly found in the states, and I’ve always loved finding out the myths and meanings behind names–discovering if it truly defines the person sporting it. I suppose it’s a handy thing to have a few aliases as well. They can come in handy at times.
      Cheers, Mr. Sampson!

  4. My dad could never remember any of our names when he wanted to call us. I would even be called my sisters’ names, plus my uncle (his brother) for good measure. Eventually he would get to me, though. Amazing how those nicknames follow you throughout life, isn’t it? We never forget things like that. My middle-aged cousins still like to talk about the time I ate a brown Crayola after being told it was a Tootsie Roll. Families are complicated! – Marty

  5. Should I say nice, or funny, or good or excellent or are all those attributes open to deconstruction. of course they are, we writers know that shit.
    So Shelley (with an e), smells like comic inventiveness.

    • I could while away the hours with the name game if I decided to give in and indulge myself. I can think of a gazillion names that stuck with me from my favorite books during childhood, but one of the best would have to be Caractacus Potts. Dahl had a special talent with that field.

  6. Nice. Yeah… we all have nicknames. Since I grew up in boarding schools, a lot of my nicknames were based on my family name. So, I was given one non-Chinese nickname (Chops), which developed into some Chinese ones (Chopsticks, Chop Soy….)

    • I always found that an interesting bit of boy boarding school behavior–to only call one another by their last names–and then of course one would get tagged with whatever wordplay came after that once you’d “established” yourself as a member of the club – or worse – found out you were one who didn’t belong. Ugh. Boys could be really cruel.
      I rather like Chops though, Rajiv. It’s a strong one.

  7. Thanks Jane, hilarious post and Mr G (or is that Mr T?) cartoons. I think it’s totally fine to change your children’s names. I too hail from a family where few of us were ever called our real names, some of my nicknames were Mouse, Electric Rat, E-Rattus…you get the picture. Now get back to work and stop mucking about.

  8. I was going to be called Robert as my parents were convinced I was going to be a boy. When I arrived, I suppose they could’ve stuck an ‘a’ on the end, but instead opted for a character out of the book Mum was reading. I’m just glad I wasn’t called after the horse! Nicknames though, yep, I’ve had a few, not all complimentary. My nephew (now 48) used to call me Di-banana, my sister’s boyfriend referred to me as Di-Di, and a colleague’s fiance called me Di-balls. Oh well, it could have been Di-abolicle I suppose!

  9. Great post Smelley,

    You are always very entertaining and your posts always make my Sunday mornings as I’ve mentioned before. (Rob, God bless… you continue to crack me up. You are my Hobbes).

    To be brief (ya, good luck right?), remember the name of one of Bob’s past friend? (I couldn’t spew it out right now as my mind also has always been at loss for names; however, it is one that I always get a kick out of when he tells me… in Polish. Odd how I can remember numbers so much easier than names.

    With regards to names and fairness, think of the oxymoron, no… conjecture… no, play on words for the former race car driver from Wisconsin (God rest his good soul) who was named Dick Trickle. Come on, seriously? With respect to his parents, what were they thinking, and that is his real name. ESPN always used to play footage of his race. Cruelty.

    Good for you on your next book Smells, keep writing, you always brighten my week.

    Much respect,

    Stoshu 🙂

      • God bless, you crack me up. The family has voted and we shall name our next dog, gerbil or fish after you. The girls like “Princess Shelley” (with two ee’s) for the name. I suggested “Shelbert Bellous the Third.” I don’t think my girls took me seriously.

        Ugg, Stoshu 🙂

        • A dog, gerbil or fish I can stand behind. Maybe not a ferret tho. Jim Davis had one of those and things did not fare well for him. I’d hate to be the namesake of something that is traditionally used in British pubs to shove down one’s pants for entertainment.

  10. I never really had a nickname as a child. The closest it came was when I was called Benny, and that was only occasionally The only member that did it all the time was my older brother,and his girls still call me Uncle Benny. When my two sons were born we took pains to find names that were not conducive to be nicked. No luck. Kids will always find a way to contort a name for their amusement. I really like your idea for using smells to title books with smell. Now that would certainly make a trip to the library a unique experience.

    • Oh, Benson, the name Benny brings back so many hysterical childhood memories. I used to sneak downstairs in the late evening and peer through the banister cracks to catch a glimpse of the television as my dad watched the Benny Hill show. It was hard not to keep my snorting laughter from escaping and revealing I was where I shouldn’t be.
      And I never thought about the libraries! Oh, what a heavenly place that would be–apart from maybe the history section of war and mahem.

  11. Oh I love your posts and the humour which reminds me of Shakespeare’s famous words ~
    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet”!

    And yes we too in my part of the world are masters in giving nicknames by shortening (rather distorting) the real name. A few funny ones are Rinku, Dinku, Pinky, Rinky, Sweety and so on 🙂 not counting the vernacular ones.

    Bye and enjoy your weekend 🙂

    • I love discovering that humans all over the world have such a similar desire to muck about with wordplay. When I listen to world news programs that discuss weighty and sober issues from wartorn areas of the world and talk about leaders whose names seem to occasionally trip up newscasters’ tongues, I wonder, briefly, if these folks also have friends who take their heavy multi-syllabic names and play around with them. I hope there is some levity there.
      Cheers!

  12. I have loved the name Shelley for as long as I can remember … but then again, with a cold, unforgiving name like *Joanne*, just about anything sounds better …. well, except for my childhood nickname, but we won’t go there.

  13. I wanted to write about how much I love OPL’s name but I can’t stop laughing about Dick Trickle. I want to see Rob’s cartoon of THAT one! Having cogitated greatly over the names of my books and their protagonists, I can sympathize with your angst. I even wrote a post about the naming of male characters: http://linnetmoss.com/2014/09/05/peter-augustus-alonzo-or-james/ Funny but I never got as enthused about my female characters, though one of them is improbably named Andromeda 🙂 But sometimes truth is stranger than fiction as “Benedict Cumberbatch” proves.

    • Cannot wait to read that post, Linnet. My guess is that it’s sure to be entertaining in a most deliciously lascivious way.
      And yes, Mr. C did get an unusual amount of attention because of entertaining name, although ever since Rob did the sketch of him and dubbed him Benedict Cucumberpatch, I cannot see him any other way.

    • Okay, Linnet, I DID try a cartoon of Dick Trickle, but there must have been some kind of Mission Impossible gene in it. Once the cartoon was done a voice said “This cartoon will self-destruct in 5 seconds!” And it did! Just burst into flames.Weird!
      Benedict Cucumberpatch is a name designed to steer its bearer to fame or infamy. My brother had a school friend called Benjamin Crawley-Boovy! Wonder what became of him?

  14. Names are my thing even now….it’s never enough to know just someone’s first name…I want the middle names and everything else too. I have long since bemoaned the fact to my mother that I was given such a common name……told her I was the most uncommon person I ever met and how could she give me such a plain name?! Birth name buyer’s remorse indeed…..except it was inflicted on me and she still likes it! I was given one of those names that was popular when I was born and it kept on being popular forever. I decided on a name for myself a long time ago and I’ve forever since been Torrie. It’s my opinion that a name is a terrible thing to waste. I REFUSE to play in the plain name game.When it came to naming my boys, they each got FAB names…..very individual and ones that when shortened even had cool nicknames.

    Of course, none of that has anything to do with the name for your novel……but I’m sure you’d never sink low enough to give it some common name……you’ll find just the right one…I just know it! Do, however, very much like the idea of a scent……… 🙂

    • Okay, Torrie, I will not ask for your official birth certificated name, as that might give Joanne a little fuel.
      And I can only imagine the fab names for your fellas. Kinda have my interest piqued to say the least.
      Lastly, since the scent idea has not been received as a disaster by a few readers, I may just continue poking that skunk with the publishers. *snort*

  15. What a comment section! It made for such fun reading!
    As did your post. I had to chuckle over “just like the disease”.
    I find the “e” interesting.
    When I visit your blog I always have to remember if Shelley has an “e” or not.
    It’s the same when I visit Stacy’s (no “e”) blog.
    The main thing about my name? It’s spelled Laurie (which everyone writes and pronounces Lori) and rarely does anyone in SWVA pronounce Buchwald right.
    The other thing about SWVA? So many people are called by their middle name, AND they might even be called “Trey” when they are the third person in line with the same name.
    Ah … now I’m just babbling!

    • I think of you when it comes to campaigning and names, Laurie, and I imagine what a taxing endeavor that must be–one I could never measure up and accomplish. Someone once told me that Bill Clinton could remember people he’d met only once on the campaign trail from years ago and still knew the names of their family members and what college their kids went to. Sheesh. HOW DOES A BRAIN DO THAT??!

      Btdubs, how do they pronounce Buchwald?

      • Boochwald, Birchwood, Butchwald … or they just stop at B 🙂 If they HEAR the name, they spell it BucKwald! Always entertaining!

        • I feel your pain, Laurie. I had to change my last name when I started working in the entertainment industry, as “Wisniewski” did not fit on a marquee – nor was it at all pronounceable. I used to tell people to just sneeze and add a “ski” to the end of it and they’d be close enough.

  16. If I don’t have the right name for a character I cannot write about him or her. Just can’t do it! I think the function of a middle name is to let us know we’re in trouble therefore we should all have middle names like “Bad.”

  17. you know i think my given name is gathering dust somewhere dark, dank, and dingy. that, in part ,explains my blogging moniker. it also explains why i enjoy coming up with names too. right now i only have a few or so i’m truly proud of – proud enough to see if there’s anything more there than just a cool name. only time and blogging will tell.

    p.s. any chance Die Arfen Barker offers dance lessons?

  18. Hahaha, this was great. I am HORRID with names. I’ll admit that after we “met” I had to check back on your main blog a few times just to make *sure* it was Shelley, and not Shelly, or Shellie, or Sherrie, or Cherie. I am seriously, infamously bad with names. I *still* don’t know the names of some of my adult students, and I’ve been teaching them for five years! But, I don’t really blame myself, since I was never given a student roster to memorize them off of. 😛

    I had many nicknames growing up, and I liked them all…. I’ve actually come to be known in my writer’s group as Miss AKA, which may be the best nickname of all of them. XD

    Your excerpt made me so excited! Can’t wait to crack open OPL when it arrives!

    • It’s such a relief to know others have the same horrific brain farts I do when it comes to remembering who is who. I can’t wait for science to discover some little glitch in our genetic structure so that we can stop wondering if we suffer from an unexplainable deficiency in IQ. Maybe it has something to do with the hair dyes our mothers used while they were pregnant? I’m desperate to blame this on somebody.
      Super desperate.

      And I so hope you’ll enjoy the book, Alex. Another couple of weeks to go. *gulp*

  19. Oh my. So glad someone else has trouble with remembering names. Of course, sometimes it’s not the name, it’s the face and I have no recollection of it. I recently introduced myself to someone who said “We’ve met. Several times.” EEEeeeEEEEeee. I’ve tried that association thing and it does work when I make the effort. But not if I forget the face. Thing is, I meet so many people I figure I’m never going to see again…

    • Okay, somehow, with all the bright and brilliant folks who come to exchange witty repartee in this blog space, Lisa, we collectively should be able to come up with a line that will save all our sorry arses when this happens to us repeatedly. Something along the lines of Did I never mention to you that I had a head injury back when I was playing first string for my college minor league team? Yeah, since then all I carry around are short term memories.
      Now they will feel absolutely horrible and we’re all off the hook.
      Or we could all just make buttons to wear on our lapels that say, “Yep. I’m an idiot. Just remind me of your name, please.”
      Tough pick.

  20. Both my husband and I go by pseudonyms. Not because we are spies or anything exciting like that, rather, because our immigrant parents named us with something not quite North American enough (by 60s standards). So I feel like Sybill whenever I go to the doctor or lawyer. 🙂

    I *thought* I loved my kids’ names, but 20+ years later, I feel regret at the names that got away. 🙂

    • I think you should tell people your spies–or rather “don’t” tell people your spies, but just allude to it. What a ruse to have people accidentally discover that your real name isn’t what they’ve been calling you for years, and then half-heartedly attempt to lead them away from the notion that you’re a spy. what fun.

      And if your kids really loved you, they wouldn’t mind if you started calling them by one of the newer names you’re favoring each week. They might even begin to treat you more kindly and bring you a cold drink because surely you must be tired and need to rest. o_O

  21. Can’t help bout laugh out loud at some of the gems in this post. The first illustration made me think right away of “Casus Belli” LOL

    And you’re right about the whole mystery and allure behind one’s name and how one’s world view can stem from how you are labelled.

    Take moi for example. My name is “Jean-Francois” which is frequently shortened to “J-F”, eventually, I came to use “Jef” more often than not as I felt it rolled easier on the tongue when speaking English and b) I’m a great fan of Jacques Brel. But in high school, for some weird reason, one guy decided to name “J-J” and it then spun into “Djé-Djé” after a book report we had to do where the main character was named “Djo-Djo”. Suffice it to say than when I come across someone from my high school years and they call me out, it brings all sorts of memories!

    • whew! You have been through the mill with the brutalization of name shifting, haven’t you? Hard to keep a steady hand on who you are when your friends keep changing it up. Although, as you said, it could be kind of fun to have a fresh start and a new perspective on the world with each new “you” that gets born into the world as the old one gets kicked to the curb.

      Your name clearly has endless possibilities. Lucky you (I think).

  22. Had me giggling with this one Shirley, so much family history conjured up whilst reading! My parents were very kind and gave my brother and I simple names and just the one each, I think my poor Mum had a gut full of explaining all her life why she was called José – with an accent – everyone assumed she was Josephine but her dear mother was so shocked to be told she had another girl and the proposed Joseph wasn’t a possibility that she invented José ( very fanciful my grandmother!). I was always called Janey by family and was only ever Jane when in serious trouble, no-one else ever calls me that now and it sounds odd when they do! Adore Rob’s cartoons this week, especially Frank! Oh and btw I think Chocolate, Whisky and Mothballs would be an awesome title for a book ? 😀

    • José is a perfectly beautiful name, Jane–or Janey (It’s hard to see you as a Janey – you’re work is so sophisticatedly “Jane” material.) And I like how clever your grandmother was.

      And I wonder how many folks would buy a book with that title (or smell), and how many would make a wide berth of it. I’m guessing the scent of it would cancel any purchasing interest with all insects in the order Lepidoptera.

  23. I have seven siblings and my parents thought the names out too well see all of us have names that start with A. So my mom will often go threw all the names of her children (and some times pets) before she finds the right kid to pick up the mess they’ve left behind them, but its not just calling out the wrong name, sometimes my mom likes to make up new ones, like Grabby (Grace + Gabby) or Almy (Alli + Amy) or the worst of it is all four Grambly! As much fun as funny as this is I have to admit that I can never talk to one of my little brothers without saying the other ones name first. 😀

    • Oh, good grief, Amelia, has your family got it bad. I thought we had it rough with four kids and all Ss, but I’m just going to keep quiet from now and think of your sibling’s strife.
      I do like the idea of mashing names together to save a little energy and have two kids (or four!) come all at once, though. That’s pretty clever on your mum’s part. I’m giving her kudos for that – even if it’s not done on purpose.
      Cheers!

      • I would like to point out that Grace’s real name is Abigail, and Gabby is my cousin that lives with us. that’s why they don’t have A names 😀
        Just thought I’d clear that up.

  24. instead of clogging up space here, and i’m sure you can imagine the XXXtentayshun i could go to, what with cats and lions and tigers and dogs and bears (& horses) and the tortoise — oh, yeah, and kids too.
    just one anecdote: i had been gravitating to ‘rosco’ ever since the unfortunate XXxpeer-i-(de)ment with the RBM weigh back when; and it was CEMENTED when, oh, 20-some years back i was (a) on the board of (mis)directors of the local run club and (b) playing in a group aspiring to be a rockenroll banned. Each had a central leader named “Jay” so in each case i was called the “R B” name to ostensibly avoid cornfusion.

    • So happy to hear you liked it, Phillip, and my thanks for the note on the rest of the posse of articles.
      And as far as the gentle winds, curves and wonders–I’ll gleefully embrace them as they come my way.
      Cheers!

  25. Awesome post dear Shelley!…
    A name denotes but it also connotes.
    The problem when it comes to about is that ambiguity is most times present …
    Thus a name or words designates more than one thing…
    When it comes to names it is hard to avoid the fact of relating one name with certain person.
    That’s why I don not like many names which are objectively saying nice!…
    All my best wishes! Aquileana ⭐

    • I think you just demonstrated why I love coming to your site, Aquileana. Not only do I find an amazing education regarding the mythology of the gods, but I love the etymological perspective as well. It’s hugely fascinating!
      Thank you for reading today. It’s so lovely to see your words.
      Cheers to you!

  26. Isn’t writing always “a physical manifestation of a deep, rueful regret ignored and carried around for years” by writers? I have heard those unceasing checks for nickels and quarters which arrive in the mail biweekly make up for all the angst. Possible title suggestion for your book: “This Book Has No Name.”

    • Pennies from heaven, B. I’m thinking I’ll be lucky to hear it’s raining a few coppers over my head. I’m also thinking I’m in for a long life of angst, as I can’t imagine doing anything else but putting down stories about my many rueful regrets. I sure hope I’ll continue to have the privilege of doing so.
      And I will pitch your title suggestion. If it flies, your name goes onto the acknowledgment page. 😛

  27. Sorry for the late swing-by, Shelley! That is one of the best final lines I’ve ever seen on a post. Bravo! Thank you for the many laughs on this one. I fortunately escaped from my childhood with very few nicknames, although I do recall “Zoo-zoo” as a typical expression of fraternal love. 🙂 I haven’t gone by my full name since I was young, when I decided that “Sue” was more casual and friendly. Susalannalily just wasn’t working for me, alas.

    • Firstly, thank you for the incredible compliment, Sue. That was a daymaker!
      And secondly, Susalannalily? Is this your true first name? I’ve never heard the name before, but it’s incredibly unique. I had to say it out loud about five times. There … I just said it five more times. I’m trying to see how easily it rolls off the tongue. I might just have to snag it for a character name. It’s totally growing on me.
      And lastly, one of my sister’s is named Sue (Susan), but my dad nicknamed her Itzu the Evil Duke and everyone else just called her Suze Dooze. My name for her has always been Suzie Q. I’m kinda partial to the name Sue.
      Plus, my favorite Johnny Cash song is A Boy named Sue.
      You’re in good company. 😀

      • I must confess I was joking about that name (which I am sure you have already guessed), but you are welcome to steal it for a character! I can so see a name like that coming from out of the South somewhere.

        My real name is Susan – nice to hear there’s another one in the family! Yes, Suzie-Q was another favourite. (And the song “Wake up, little Susie.”) Love that Johnny Cash song. I came late to his work but I’ve really grown to appreciate that voice of his!

        • I AM stealing that name, Sue. It is perfect for a heart heavy eleven-year-old southern girl who was named after some long-dead auntie with some mysterious past. Now to come up with a plot.
          Easy as pie.

  28. You mention Agent, Editor and Publisher ( which most of us have never encountered or delayed for more than a minute before they ‘must rush’) and still have the problem of titles! Well there’s comfort, of a kind, in that. I am with Aquileana on the connote. I’d go so far as to claim that the name given a child or a character will absolutely govern what they will agree to do, based on their namesakes. I christened four daughters with Shakespearean names ( selected for agreeable shortenings which have stuck- in the hope of a dusting of nobility) and each has seemingly acquired the characteristics that went with the name. Some time ago I tried to investigate the connotations of names in a novel to see how much agreement there was in period, class, likely circumstances starting with Vernon and Claudia. Sadly I do not have your skill nor your cartoonist! I think Trollope could be resurrected and I started with Geoffrey Mentwell, a retired vicar who took small steps and fell over guy ropes, bringing down the agricultural show tent at a critical pause in judging. It is now considered passe, sadly.I am with you on the critical importance of names and naming.

    • You bring up some marvelous points, Philippa, regarding the heightened possibility of taking on the essence of one’s given name, which makes me reconsider the complaints I’ve often directed at my father for saddling his children with myriad nicknames. Quite possibly, this was his way of infusing an element of chance into the equation. Perhaps, we’d not be carved in stone by a series of only one combination of letters. Perhaps, we’d have a slightly more colorful palette of ever-changing hues from which to choose from.
      Such wonderful food for thought.

      PS. Love the mental image of Mr. Mentwell’s folly, as I grew up in the midwest where agricultural shows were the main source of time well spent and occasionally wasted. I could see it happening in my mind’s eye with crisp precision.

Don't hold back ... Hail and Speak!

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