Friday, August 18, 2006

Moniker Mania

by W. L. Elliott

I work for a company that contracts out to the post office. We presort the mail in exchange for lower rates for our clients. In the course of a day, anywhere from 3000 to 15000 pieces of mail pass through my hands. Every piece is going somewhere, intended for someone to read.

The envelopes come in a rainbow of colors and sizes; white, blue, silver, black, orange, pink – you name it. They range from the standard number tens to great big bubble lined 20”x30”, I've even seen one made from elephant dung. But there is one thing they all have in common.

Every piece has a name attached.

Some names are short, some are long. Some are individuals, some are companies.

Names are fun!

I find myself flipping through mail and wondering about the people whose name I find on those envelopes. There are many good, useful names. Every once in a while, I find one that revs my creativity like a teenager waiting for the green light.

Here are some of my cache, golden results of an unlikely treasure hunt. (My apologies in advance if anyone sees their name here, and I hope you take it as a compliment if you do!)

Deb Deeb
Sherlock Whitlock (now THAT’S too good to pass up!)
Mr. Skeem

Push-and-be-damned River (and Lodge) in Canada
Avalon (Street, Blvd, Court and Place)
Wanderwild Park

Lost Dog, WY
Boring, OR
Mud Lick, KY
Frisby On The Wreake, Leichester, England

I swear I am not making any of this up!

We writers aren’t the only creative ones, either. Recently, we did a large mailing to scrapbooking stores all over the US. Out of 700 plus addresses, these store names made me scramble for a pen and paper:

Tickled Ink (Montgomery, AL)
The Scrap Bucket (Plano, TX)
Crop Circle (Grand Haven, MI)

My personal favorite:

The Embossible Dream (Bremerton, WA)

All of this has me really thinking about two things:

Titles: Considering my book will have to share a shelf with many others, I want my title to be the one that someone just has to pick up. That’s what titles are – a mini-intro to the story within, an eye-catcher, a baited hook.

Pack-rats: We writers are pack-rats, just as bad as any quilter, crafter, or scrapbooker. We accumulate bits and pieces, words and phrases, like some people collect stamps! We rummage through the oddest places, like outgoing mail, to find our treasures—and it’s just as worthy a search as any antiquer’s hunt through a flea market!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get my notebook and work on my collection... whoops, I mean, I've got to go to work!


Anonymous said...

I have family who live in Knoblick KY. Hadn't heard of Mud Lick.

Annette Lyon said...

There's a city in Finland named Ii (pronounced "ee").

It's nice to know that I'm not weird by myself for enjoying things like this!

Tristi Pinkston said...

Great blog, WL.

Two things -- did you know that the town in Wales you mentioned has the longest town name of any in the world? Just a small bit of trivia for you!

And, unfortunately, authors rarely get to choose their own titles. They can give their book a name and keep their fingers crossed that hope against hope, the name will stick, but a good percentage of the time, the publisher will decide that their own title is more eye-catching, and your own carefully selected name will be discarded. The more you publish, the more you'll get to have a say in things like that, but unfortunately, what the publisher eventually decides, goes.