What’s In a Name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

~Romeo and Juliet Act II Scene II

I spent the weekend at my first writing workshop. I had some interesting insights, some of which I’m still processing.

I was having difficulties creating an introduction. This is nothing new. I have never been good at introducing myself; I stumble through the question “So, tell me about yourself” whenever it is asked (which is frequently since I’m job hunting).  After a rather frustrating day culminating in me stumbling through pitching my Nanowrimo novel Helena to a publisher and an agent, I collapsed in my bed in tears. How could it be so difficult to say, “Hi, I’m Laurie Richards and I have an awesome retelling of All’s Well That Ends Well that will knock your socks off?” For this INFP writer, it’s a gargantuan task, in spite of my public speaking and performance abilities.

My given name is Laurie Diane Richards. It’s my legal name, but it’s not a name with which I can identify. I had a difficult childhood and my primary role models came from my mother’s side of the family—surname Lawrence. Everyone advised me not to change my name when I was eighteen; it was practical advise; after all, I’d get married in a year or two and then I’d take my husband’s name. Life happened and all of those traditional dreams of being a normal Mormon girl dissolved. I evolved into someone else, as many of us do in our twenties. Long story short, I’ve never been able to afford to change my name. So in my head I’m Laurie Diane Lawrence.

If you know a little about names, Laurie is a diminutive form of Lawrence. I’m not certain Laurie Lawrence is the best name for a writer. That said, I love it because it encompasses two amazing grandmothers who encourage me from the afterlife. My grandma, Helen Heath Lawrence, pokes at me once in a while. For the first two years of my life she and my grandpa Lawrence were my two favorite people in the world. My great grandma Louisa. I never knew her in person, but she is sort of a guardian angel. If you can’t tell I see spirits. I ran across a picture of her one day and immediately said, “That’s who you are!”

We attended some of the Heath family reunions after my grandma died. Heath is a name I connect strongly to. Members of the Heath family have been creative and I don’t doubt I inherited a lot of my creativity from the Heath genes. I also look more and more like my grandma as the years go by. I wear that badge with pride.

So instead of sleeping Saturday night I wrote my introduction as Laurie Heath. It flowed without hesitation. Names are powerful. They can spur us on to wonderful heights or crush us by what or who we are reminded of by them.

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