By the English Rose.
Do you like your name? Or do you hate it? So many people who I know really don’t like their given names, myself included.
I was given the name Gillian, no middle name, that’s all I got and I hate it, so mostly I get called Jill or Gill depending if it’s spoken or written (except by Mum and my two sisters, who insist on giving me my Sunday name!) If I could have, I would have changed it to something I liked more. I used to wish I had a middle name so I could at least choose which one I liked best. Mum and Dan had two names and they gave my younger sisters two, so why not me? I want to have a tantrum!
I used to like the name Dawn, and when I was sending manuscripts off to publishers, on the return envelope I used to put G.D as my initials, thinking that the D would symbolise a new ‘dawn’ in my writing life! It never did. So I dropped the D.
My sister is called Viki Helen, and the Viki is just that, it’s not short for Victoria as so many people seem to think, but she has always been called Helen and she hates that, so much so that she has changed it to Helan, no idea why, as it is still pronounced the same way! I’d have wanted to be called Viki as it’s more unusual. My friend, Janice, has always wanted to be called Susan, and my friend Shirley wants to be called Marie.
My Auntie Doris had a little girl a year or so before I was born, and they named her – Doris! Which was fine when she was small, but as she grew they got called Big Doris and Little Doris! As soon as she was old enough, she legally changed her name to Christine. I don’t blame her at all, who the heck wants to go through life being called ‘Little Doris’, it sounds very Dickensian!
As I am a huge lover of Scotland and consider it my spiritual home (it is actually my ancestral home) I once decided I wanted to be called Shona, a good old Scottish name, meaning Jane or Joan, but no-one would use Shona as they had got so used to calling me Gillian, or Jill for so many years. Darn it!
My altar ego, Shona.
What is it that makes us hate our name? Is it because we had no freedom of choice over it, because we were ‘given’ it by someone else? Maybe it’s because it isn’t strong enough, or poetic enough, or Romantic enough?
Do you think our characters like the names we give them? Do those names really ‘fit’ the characters? I know that in the days most of us at PRP are writing about, a huge amount of people changed their names on a regular basis for a variety of reasons, the only problem with it is, if we did decide to allow our characters to do that, the readers would get very confused! So would the writers probably! I’ve been lucky up to now, all my main characters seem to have liked the names I chose for them.
Have you ever written a character with one name, then changed it after the book was finished? If you have changed a character’s name part way through a story, why? And does that alter the way you write the character? My WIP has a bad guy who I am calling Mike at the moment, but I’m having some real trouble with him, every time I write about him he kicks against the name, it’s got to go soon! But what he’ll end up being called, I guess that might just depend on exactly how nasty he turns out to be!
The real me. Jill.
I chose to change my name for my books because I don’t really like my ‘real’ name, so for my traditional shoot-em-up Westerns for Hale in England, my author name is Amos Carr, and for PRP of course I am Gil McDonald. It would be hard to fit my full name on a book really!
So what do you think? Do you like or hate your name? If you had to change it what would you change it to and why? Plenty of food for thought here, I will be interested to see your comments.