What’s in a name? Quite a lot, it turns out…

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What's in a name
Who am I, then? Outside of my lacklustre name? What are my hopes and dreams? Do I have any left, or have they all been crushed by the endless life-sapping commute to London I take with Southern Rail each day?

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, it turns out…

The name Nigel is dying a death… as a baby name, it is on the verge of extinction. This year saw no new Nigels. Not one.

As a Nigel myself, I can’t fault this. It’s a terrible name. It was never a stylish name, it was never cool or indy or retro… it was just… insipid, really. Fopish at best, pale, weak and a little bit inbred at worst.

I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner, but I can’t help thinking the ever-present Nigel Farage has helped it on its way into extinction.

All of this got me thinking, though, about how important names are, both in real life and for fictional characters. My partner and I deliberated for months over naming our two children – and both their names now seemed fused with their very characters. I can’t imagine them being either a Zeb or a Flora (both contenders at one point).

I’m now embarking on my third novel, and I’m revisiting a character only seen off-page in my first novel Beat The Rain. He’s the husband of Louise’s friend Imogen and he’s called Gavin.

All this talk of extinct Nigels got me thinking. Why did I choose that name? It was thoughtless, really, as he wasn’t that important at the time. He never made it onto the page. So currently, I don’t know anything about this man or how his plot will unfold – I’m that kind of writer.

But I’m starting to explore him and the only thing I have to go on is his name:

I wish I wasn’t called Gavin. It doesn’t suit me, doesn’t sum up who I am. It’s a thoughtless name, one chosen before anyone knew who I was or what I might become. I suppose that’s the way with all names. They’re an aspiration, an arrow pointing towards something your parents want you to be, independent of you entirely. Either that or they’re a lazy choice. I imagine my parents chose Gavin because nothing better presented itself and it seemed mildly inoffensive; something the neighbours wouldn’t think was too outlandish or ‘try hard’.

Gavin. Mildly inoffensive. Dependable. Not memorable, certainly. Just a name attached to a face you bumped into once. Maybe he lives on your street or works in your office. Maybe he’s your friend’s husband or boyfriend. You can’t really remember, it’s hard to place him. He’s non-descript. The boy next door, except not the one you wanted to shag or had a man crush on, the one you didn’t notice because he was beige. Camouflaged, wearing his name like suburban wallpaper.

Who am I, then? Outside of my lacklustre name? What are my hopes and dreams? Do I have any left, or have they all been crushed by the endless life-sapping commute to London I take with Southern Rail each day?

I’m a commuter. Perhaps that word sums up me entirely. You’d think being a husband or a father or a city trader would define me more accurately but commuting – especially by Southern Rail – is an all-consuming occupation. Every day is punctuated by squeezing into this green and cream tin can full of soul-dead husks who, like me, used to believe life would offer them something more appealing than body odour, delays and standing room only.

All of the above will change by the time the novel is complete, of course, but these are my first meanderings into his mind for novel 3 (I don’t even have a working title yet). I’ve started a new journey, though, getting to know someone I’m inventing again, letting my finger’s tell his story as the real world infiltrates my mind, travels through me and guides me. What’s in a name? Quite a lot as it turns out…

 

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Novels by Nigel Jay Cooper

Beat The Rain

My debut novel Beat The Rain is currently the Bestselling JHP Fiction title and was a semifinalist in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 for Best Debut Author.

CURRENTLY 0.99 on Kindle and Ebook for a short time.

If you’d like to buy it, the links are below:

 

 

 

 

 

The Pursuit of OrdinaryThe Pursuit of Ordinary

My second novel The Pursuit of Ordinary will be released on 27 April, 2018.

If you’d like to buy it, you can pre-order it on the links below. Learn more about The Pursuit of Ordinary here.

2 Comments

  1. Anne Foster says:

    Well, I am certainly excited that your second novel is out soon as I adored Beat the Rain so much! I just pre-ordered it so can’t wait until April! Oh, and by the way we have a friend named Nigel and he’s a hoot! Looking forward to #3 as well! Your fan, Anne

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