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Posts Tagged ‘the writing life’

A follow-up on my previous post about character names.

It’s clear from comments — here, on Facebook, etc. — that some readers disagree with my characterizations of the names I’m using.

Not a problem. And absolutely expected.

When I spoke of, for instance, Eleanor as a name that evokes impressions of “a longer view, a queenly aspect, strength, confidence, patience,” I should have said that those are the impressions the name evokes for me.

Your impression of Eleanor, the name, will definitely be different from mine, perhaps radically so. You may have had an evil twin named Eleanor, she may have been your overly strict second grade teacher, or a particularly nasty girlfriend. Or it may be that, try as you might, when you hear the name, you can only think of the ridiculous novelist, Eleanor Lavish, from A Room with a View.

That’s all fine.

For me, the name Eleanor conjures up images of Mrs. Roosevelt; Henry II’s wife, Eleanor D’Aquitaine (my 24th great grandmother, as it turns out); and the homophonically named Elinor Dashwood from Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

Those are my Eleanors, and they match well with the character I want to bring to life in this book.

Naturally, I cannot expect my impressions of that name to be yours as well. No writer can expect that, even if we use a name as well known as George Custer (as I did in my Fallen Cloud Saga).

No, my job is to make sure that my Eleanor comes across with my impressions intact. I must show you, through her actions, how she is patient, thoughtful, perhaps even regal in her quiet dignity. Then, maybe, the next time you hear the name Eleanor, your first impression will be more like mine.

For my current purposes, I need to have a name that fits the character I want to create. That is true, I believe, for almost any writer.

Onward.

k

Puget Sound

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It began, as it often does, with Sam and Janet.

Sam and Janet, the couple of the oft-mocked enchanted evening, are a regular starting point when I’m trying to pick character names. I begin with these two because, frankly, I’d never use them.

Setting the names of my main characters is a crucial early step in my writing process. I have two main reasons for this. (more…)

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Ever since publishing my last post, in which I stated publicly that I was gearing up to break my four-year-long novel-writing dormancy, I’ve been in a dark blue funk.

It took me a while to figure out why. Well, to be honest, I didn’t figure it out. A fellow writer (Todd Baker: grillmaster, metalhead, and memoirist par excellence) commented on my post, and his reflections shed light on my own internal strife.

I was suffering from “The Dread.” (more…)

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You might have noticed a bit more poetry on this blog of late. There’s a reason for this.

If I’m to be brutally honest, these past four years I haven’t been much of a writer. My last novel came out in late 2012, and since then — aside from the posts, vignettes, and poetry on this blog — I’ve only written one short story.

A lot happened to us in those four years. All of our parents died which meant funerals and family strife and estate stuff. We invited a young woman in need to stay with us for a year while she reestablished herself. I had an emergency appendectomy and my wife had an emergency cholecystectomy. Our only car died and needed to be replaced. I grew deathly sick of my job and tried to switch careers. Not all of it was bad (we paid off the house, and for our 30th anniversary we bought a classic sports car), but all of it, even the good stuff, sucked up a lot of time and energy, and brought a great deal of stress into our lives.

All of which sounds like a bunch of excuses and, for a long time, I viewed them as such. Now, though, I see them as reasons.

Am I splitting semantic hairs? Perhaps, but hear me out. (more…)

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The 53 StepsChange is not “good.” We just say that to put on a brave face. The fact is that change is neither inherently good or bad. Change, like the universe, is neutral.

Change just is.

There have been a lot of changes around my house in the last 24 months. In that time, my wife and I have lost three of our four parents. Big change. Also during this period my wife discovered Facebook and, as a result, our social circles have widened and multiplied. Change, also pretty big from my POV. And, for the past several months we’ve had a houseguest, a young person whose life blew up while visiting us, and whom we’re helping get reestablished. Epic change.

In other words, my home life, my level of social interaction, and my private world have all undergone dramatic and fundamental transformations. And it’s made me a bit stroppy.

Yes. Stroppy. Look it up. (more…)

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