I’m horrible with names.
Not bad, horrible. I’m one of those people who dreads the moment of meeting someone new. Because my mind perfectly hears – “I’d like you to meet–“, and then immediately switches gear at that point to plan out my response instead of listening. Right as their name is being said, I’m formulating which assortment of words I’m going to use in my first statement to this new person. “Nice to meet you”, “Good to meet you”, “Pleasure to meet you”… They’re not complicated phrases at all, so why am I spending so much mental energy to ensure I don’t make a disastrous first impression by accidentally saying “Meet to nice you”, or “Nice to pleasure you”? And yet, my mind immediately clicks off into that direction on the exact word before their name is spoken.
Knowing that I do this doesn’t help me at all. It’s a problem I’m completely aware of and still can’t stop. So if I meet you and don’t actually use your name in conversation until I’ve heard someone else use it at least eighteen times, please don’t be offended. It’s not you, it’s me.
I know I’m not the only person with this problem. And fortunately some people are even worse. I once visited my sister at college and she introduced me to the pastor of her church.
“This is my brother Drew,” she said to him.
“Wow,” he replied as he reached out to shake my hand. “My name is Craig too.”
Unfortunately I’m horrible with the names of characters in the books I write as well. They’re my creations, right? So I should easily be able to decide “You’re Audra McKinney, you’re Richard Bucklew, and you’re Edgar Ott. Sorry, just deal with it.” But I’m hesitant. Like I’m going to offend them by accidentally using the wrong name and they might not correct me, causing me to always call Jason “Erik” and being laughed at behind my back. Wow, that sounds like quite an issue when I type it out… 🙂
So right now the main character in my current novel is “[Name]”. That’s it. I’m on chapter 31 and every time he’s mentioned, he’s [Name]. I don’t want to use a working name in case it’s not right and it sticks forever. Awkward.
I know everything about this character – the way his relationship with his father has impacted his decisions throughout his life, his continuing fixation with one of his ex-girlfriends, the reasons why can’t bring himself to replace the toaster. Everything. Yet I still call him [Name].
It’s not forever. He’ll be given his name by the end of the book I’m sure. Until then, at least [Name] knows me as well as I know him and can be understanding about it. And if not, I’ll just edit him to be a bit more forgiving…