I frequently think about names, specifically, people’s names. I never liked mine–Shirley–always sounds harsh and old-fashioned, and from the time I was a child, I didn’t like it and wished for another.

My observant husband pointed out that my parent-given name is sort of confusing, schizoid if you will: Shirley Mae Watt. (Surly May What?). He pointed out that, “no wonder you have trouble being decisive sometimes.”

It wasn’t until my daughter, at age 16, wanted to modify her name to make it more formal, that I realized that I could change it or modify it. We legally changed her name. I could have, for instance, used my middle name, “Mae,” which was also my grandmother’s middle name.

When I became an author, using a different name, or a Nom de plume became more acceptable. Still, I balked. I used my initials for my currently published books, although I am playing with different names for future use.

The reason I balked at changing was because every name I came up with sounded either vain, presumptuous or just plain silly. I played with “Morgan,” a name my husband preferred. As a child, I wanted a name that was popular, like “Rhonda,” or even “Mary Jane.” These are two names I wouldn’t want right now.

Personally, I like the names “Mom,” “Gram,” and “Nana,” by which I am frequently called. Or, “Dear,” or “Honey Bear,” as my husband calls me.

A friend changed her name from “Frances” to “Dee,” which suits her. She even added a strong last name to go with it.

Ah, if I had more courage, I could’ve been Brigette or Marilyn or Angelina (if only in name). But, how vain.

I worked with a woman once you didn’t like her name: Amy. She changed the spelling to “Amiee” (with a tilda over the last e), and pronounced that she was now to be called “Aim-ay” thinking it sounded French. She became irate when people called her by the English version of Amy. This required that people avoid calling her by name at all, lest they got a ten minute lecture on the correct pronunciation.

I have come up with a derivation which I intend to use in the future. An anagram of sorts: Esmae Watt (for historical fiction or some mystery fiction). I don’t expect anyone outside of the writing circuit to call me by that name.

I hope my children are happy with their names, and if they are not, I grant them permission to change them.