Baby has arrived and she’s settling into our lives well. Or, more accurately, she’s overturned our former lives and ripped out the guts of our routines. Now, seven weeks after her auspicious arrival in the middle of an ice storm and a seven day power failure (you’ll have to wait for more on this in a future essay), we’ve rebuilt our lives to include her.

We named her Nimia, a hard-won name, I must say. We had a hard time naming our first daughter (Evening), and our second proved even tougher because we were determined to find a name we loved as much as we loved Evening’s.

our wee Nimi-gnome

It’s a great deal harder to name children than characters. With characters, you can write whole drafts knowing full well you haven’t found the right name yet, but with kids it’s different. You can’t change it five drafts and three months in when you find one that suits them better. You’ve filled out legal documents that will follow them everywhere. People know them. It would be like J. K. Rowling changing Harry Potter’s name to Reginald Montgomery in the seventh book. Confusion and complication will follow.


Harder still: you have agree on this name with a whole other person. I have pages of names I adore, written in two long lists of female and male, but that doesn’t mean Mr. The Spouse likes them enough to name his children after them.

Does everyone make naming their children such serious business?

We happened upon Nimia’s name when I was eight months pregnant. She had been Nim for a few months already; there’s a few Nims floating around in the fictional world and I’ve loved every one I’ve met thus far. When I hear ‘Nim’ it strikes me as full of fun and unexpected giggles – the perfect name for our little girl. However, we still struggled with a grown-up version of it to give her. For a while she was almost Nimue, but the Lady of the Lake seemed a lot to live up to, and there’s always that matter of Merlin still trapped in a tree …

As for fun and unexpected giggles, our Nim has this funny goat-giggle she makes in her sleep which we find quite contagious. Her name suits her well.

I suspect not every writer takes character naming as serious as I do either. Good ol’ Billy Shakespeare suggested “what’s in a name?” as if he could just pluck a name from a crowd and plop it onto the page without a second thought. No curated lists of striking names for him. Then there’s Neil Gaiman, who famously wrote down ‘Coraline’ in a misspell and got a whole book out of it. What about you? Do you struggle to find the perfect name for a character or does a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Do you reach for a pen every time you come across a name that grabs your attention?

4 thoughts on “what’s in a Nim?

  1. I definitely write down names as they come to me or I hear them said aloud. You never know when that name will fit a new character perfectly.

    We struggled to name our daughter too, but I’m happy with the name we came up with and she can shorten it many different ways to suit her 🙂 I love the name Nimia with Nim for short. Well done in the naming department!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, congratulations! I don’t have any children, so I’ve never had to name a real person before. It seems like there’d be a whole lot more pressure to get the name right.

    For fictional characters, knowing what names mean is important. I usually have some idea what sort of character I need for my story, and then I go looking for names that mean something symbolically appropriate.


    1. There is a lot more pressure, but at least there’s around nine months to work on it.
      I like to look up name meanings when working on character sketches myself. They often lend another depth. I also have fun putting ‘easter eggs’ in my (longer) stories via names. I’m not sure if anyone will notice them but me, but for some reason I have a lot of fun with it. ‘Nimia’ means ‘she who is ambitious’ which I thought rather versatile.

      Liked by 1 person

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