Sunday, July 25, 2010


I keep finding names that fascinate me. Names that I can't stop thinking of. Names, that if I were to ever have another child, I would want to bestow upon them. Names, that quite simply, I am in love with.

When I was pregnant with Savannah, her name was one of the most difficult things to determine. Later, when Savannah was still a babe in arms, I discovered the first name I was completely and undeniably certain of--and knew that if I had another child, her name would be Gabrielle Kathleen.

In writing I have never been able to name my characters. In fiction I write endlessly about un-named people who, after a very short while, become quite cumbersome to keep track of without proper names.

This (and other, less easily identifiable reasons) is one thing that keeps me in the realm of journalistic and memoir-style writing. I don't have the burden of giving anyone a name. Their parents already did that for me.

The name, to me, feels like a heavy responsibility with many consequences. My strong resistance to naming characters comes from a fear of limiting them--restricting them to someone's idea of what a person with that name is like.

But, as I continue to encounter and collide with names that start to haunt me-- showing up in fitful dreams or becoming daydream companions--I think that, perhaps, these names are a gift. A map, if you will, to the people whose stories I may need to tell.

As my daughters continue to grow and the time that they need me as a daily guide grows ever shorter, perhaps these names are the children who will help fill the void. Ease the pain. Stave off the hole left in the inevitable empty nest. Perhaps, after all, I can write fiction. And these wonderful, delightful, daunting names will lead me there.


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