Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Happy Name Yourself Day!

When I was a teenager, I wanted to have a different name. I'm pretty sure now that it's because I was going through a lot of culture shock* combined with a rough transition through puberty, a lot of spiritual questioning, and severe introversion, so I didn't even really know who I was, and that made me not fit into my name all that well. So I spent a lot of time trying to come up with other names I could be called, and settled on Abigayle or Charlotte Johanson. When I first started writing, these were the names I signed on the stories, and the first poem I got published was under Z Lereaux.

Now I'm pretty okay with my name, but I still think about names a lot. I think about what I'd name a kid**, I think a lot about how to name my characters***, and sometimes I think about renaming myself. I really, really love the idea that as you get older, you can choose a new name for yourself. I love the idea that your community can choose a public name for you as you develop a role in the society. I just love the mutability of names.

I'd never heard of Name Yourself Day until on a whim as I was working out my writing calendar for the month I decided to look up fun holidays, and this was one of the ones I found. According to Holiday Insights, "Name Yourself Day is your chance to give yourself whatever name you'd like...for a day. If you like your name, then change your name for just today. If you don't like your name, use today to select a new name for life!" It would have been so freaking great to have known about this day when I was a kid, if it even existed back then, but I probably would have been too shy to tell everyone to call me something else!

Name Yourself Day Exercise!
So for today, I want everyone who wants to to think about their names. Why were you named what you were named, and what would you prefer to be called? What name would you give yourself if you had the choice? Take a page of your journal, or start a journal, and just list names--names you'd like to have, names you'd like to call a kid or a cat or a dog, names to use in stories, awesome names of famous people. Just journal about names!
Will any of these names make it into rotation? Will any of them never get used despite how cool they are? Why?

I was almost named Meghan Rhiannon, but my mom changed it because she didn't want me to be called Meg, and she didn't want me named after the witchiest of Fleetwood Mac's songs. My dad is still lobbying for me to be called Chloe Phaedra--or else to be called Ruby Mae or Agnes Mildred. It's hard to tell how serious he is about those two, though, because he's been lobbying for them literally as long as I can remember.

What's your name story?

*We came back to the states, where I'd never really lived, just as I went into middle school and hit puberty like a brick wall. It was rough.
**I'm pretty sure I've settled on the pattern of two weird names, two normal names, samisdottir / [father]son, hypenated last name.
***The names have to suit the story and the world they're set in, you know, and if there's different cultures, they have to suit the feel of the culture they come from!
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