Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Does he? Or doesn't he?

It was a dark and stormy morning...

I couldn't resist. It is. Dark and stormy, and raining so hard it sounds like an orchestra of tiny hammers. I love days like this. Not all the time, mind you, but every once in a good storm works for me.

This morning I'm mulling over a topic most of us don't give much thought to. Like so many things in life, on this front either we do or we don't. That's it. No middle ground. You do. You don't. No way around it, really.

The topic? Do or don't what? Oh, right. Sorry about that. I just figured you'd know straight off what's on my mind. After all, we do visit almost every day, don't we?

Nicknames. I'm thinking nicknames.

Let me tell you how this became a do-or-die topic in our house. Yesterday I began sketching a story out in my head. I've got a wisp of plot and a few characters. I have bits of dialogue. The usual beginnings of a novel, all just floating around in my head. When I thought about the hero, I penciled in (my mind, still working in my mind here) physical attributes. Hair (black and curly). Eyes (deep, dreamy brown). Voice (full and rich, like hot coffee with just the right amount of cream in it. You know the kind, the way it tastes as it slides over your tongue and -- oh! Sorry, got carried away on the voice, didn't I?). But when it came to naming this guy, I drew a blank. A real name? Or...could it be? Does this hero need a nickname?

The names-that-aren't-really names say so much about a person, don't they? I went to college with a guy everyone called No Neck. No, No Neck didn't appreciate the nickname but it fit him to a tee. My husband and I know someone who's referred to, even in polite circles, as Halfwit. Again, it's not the most flattering moniker but again, it fits. Really, really well. I learned early in our marriage that my husband has a cousin the family calls -- are you ready for this one? Don't have anything hot in your mouth, do you? All right, then. The family calls this cousin Itchy Balls. I'll let you think about that one on your own. And no, I'm not commenting on whether or not it's a fitting name for the guy. Uh uh. No way.

Authors get to give their characters any names, and nicknames, they choose. And, as in life, once a character gets one, he or she has it for good. It just is. Or isn't. Now while I'm sure Mr. Warm My Insides With His Voice won't be called "Itchy" anything, I do believe this will be a character who answers to a nickname. Why? Just because it feels right. And that, in the end, is the way I write. I write what feels right, be it name, place or conversation. I write with my heart as much as my mind. My heart's saying "Nickname! Give him a nickname!" Unfortunately my heart isn't giving away the appropriate name-that-isn't a name. I guess my head will have to figure that one out.

Pardon? Me? A nickname?

Well, I do try to be honest with all of you. And this is a professional, marketing venue for me so maybe letting you in on the nickname isn't ... oh, what the heck. It's not as if it's Itchy Ba--well, it's nothing to blush over. I don't think.

Sweetheart. My husband calls me Sweetheart.

I've told. Now it's your turn. Do you have a nickname? And if you do, what is it? Please share with us. That is, unless it's something like Itch--well, you know what I mean. Unless your nickname is something wild and wooly, or deeply personal, or not for the under-17 crowd, please share. We all want to know.

I'll let you know how my new hero makes out in the name game. It may take a while, but I'm sure the guy will eventually get a handle...


Marianne Arkins said...

In junior high & high school, I was called "Pee Wee" because I was so tall and a forward on the basketball team.

DH calls me "Wife". Pretty much gets the point across, hmmm? Everyone in his family is known by their relationship. To his sibs, I am "Sister-in-law", etc.

Yes, they are an odd bunch.

Dru said...

When I was younger, people would call me Droopy because they couldn't pronounce my name.

As an adult, people call me DA because they don't want to say the two syllables needed for my first name.