About Me

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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What's in a name?

Far be it from me to disagree with Shakespeare, but I do. I don't think a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, in fact, I'd go even further than that. I think a rose by any other name would be something completely different.

Names are crucial. More than that, they define us. A Susan is a different person from a Violet. A James is a different man than a George.

Numerologists deal with both your birth name but even more importantly the name you choose for yourself. So if your name is Kathleen (like mine), but you call yourself Kathie, that will mean one thing. If you call yourself Kate, that will be another. And if your child's name is Robert, you could call him Rob or Bob or Bobby or Robert - all of those things will define who he is.

My sister grew up as Sandra - and in the past five years she has changed her name to Sandy. She's chosen to change her name because she works with children and Sandy is a more friendly and easier name for children to use. But it's changed her as well. Is it the job? Is it the name change? I suspect it's a little bit of both.

I think about this when I'm writing a new character. If her name is Susan, what does she get called by the love of her life? Sue? Susan? or something else completely?

I think about this when I'm naming a town - there's a big different between a coastal town called Secret Cove and one called Gibsons Landing. They're both interesting, but there's a built in assumption that is made by the reader (or the visitor) when they hear the name of a place. I often choose holiday destinations by their name - I can remember pouring over maps of France and Italy and choosing to spend a night in a place whose name I loved.

I can remember when I was a teenager planning - as we all do - my future wedding and spending months deciding on the name of my groom. I can't remember what my decision was, though it was probably something like Leonard (or Leonardo to make it closer to Romeo) because I was in love with Romeo in Franco Zefferelli's version of Romeo and Juliet.

And thus, as always, back to Shakespeare. Sorry, big guy, but the rose isn't a rose if it's called something else. It's an altogether different flower. You were wrong - but you know what? I forgive you. It doesn't happen often.

What about your name? Your characters' names? Your childrens' names?


1 comment:

Jodie Esch said...

I changed my name in Grade 11 when I switched schools.
I wanted to be someone different.
I went from 'Joan' to 'Jodie'. My aunties still called me 'Joanie' and my French-Canadian friends called me 'Jodette'. So I had a range of personalities I could choose, depending on my mood.

Jodie Esch