Being a creative person leads you to doubt yourself in one way or another. Sometimes I’m really great at ignoring it or letting it drive me, and sometimes I’m not.
Today I was developing characters and outlining for a novel that I’m planning for July NaNoWriMo, when all of the sudden I had this terrified feeling that there were no good names left for me to use.
In my brief moment of panic, I started recalling all the names of my main characters over the last few years; all the names I’d already used: Skylar, Capella, Valine, Rhiannon, Jesse, Shaylin, Avren… and then started going over minor characters. Thankfully, I stopped about three characters in (because my minor characters could basically make up a small army), and attempted to remind myself that there are probably millions of names that I could choose from. I will legitimately never run out of names to use.
But then I started thinking… what if the right name is already in use by another author? What if my ginormous, half-giant character just screams the name Frodo? I, of course, would never name a character Frodo (not to mention a half-giant), because the name is way too iconic and well known; just like I’d never name a character Katniss, Hermione, or Daenerys.
However, I think a lot of names in modern fiction are still on the table. I could have a character named John, and the guy across the coffee shop that is glaring at an open Word document on his laptop (who I suspect to be a writer) could also have a character named John. Our Johns wouldn’t be the same. Our Johns would be two entirely different people.
Sometimes I have to remember that names aren’t exclusive. I can use the name Harry, but he’s not going to live in a cupboard under the stairs. I can use the name Edward, but he’s not a shimmering vampire. I can use the name Lucy, but mine hasn’t found any magical worlds through wardrobes as of late.
Names are beautiful and precious things, and when you find one that sticks for your character, sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s the name that fits, and that’s that, and I don’t think that any of us should feel guilty about it.
Don’t worry, guys. We haven’t run out of names… yet.
In my defense, I partially blame the above mini-anxiety attack on the fact that I hadn’t had my coffee yet.
Lesson learned for today: Being a writer is hard; drink coffee first.