what’s in a Nim?

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.

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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?

the village children’s project

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Most people told them it would never work. The rest shook their heads and said nothing. “At least they are staying out of trouble,” was muttered thrice a day.

The kids ignored them and kept on working, testing ideas and calculating for every possibility. They carved grooves in the rocky surface to channel the wind and harness its power. They brought in soil to grow food on the top and in every crevice. The waves and the tides powered the engine.

When they were finished, the children invited everyone in the village to the launch. A handful of non-related adults showed: the type who liked to laugh at another person’s failure. They were disappointed.

The mammoth barge slipped into the sea, looking like any other cliff on the Bay. It puttered away under its own power, with a hundred cheering children on board, ready for adventure.

secret doorways

“What do you suppose is on the other side of that door?”

She thought it over. “May095be a wizard who can shrink down to any size, or a fairy taking a bath. I bet they like bubble baths. Or even a unicorn, polishing his hooves for a parade. Maybe even a goblin, making up some sort of mean potion to get back at the school bully.” She looked at her friend. “What do you think it is?”

Her friend blinked. “I was just thinking of cobwebs ‘n stuff.”

“Oh.”

passages

She stepped forward with care, studying the stairs. If she recited the words and stepped the right way, she could be whisked away on a wonderful adventure. She had no doubt this was the nature of magical stone stairways. If she did it wrong, not much would change at all, but what fun would that be?

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the beast with soft talons

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The beast reached out its monstrous arm to comfort the frightened child. She jumped with the beast’s talons touched her shoulder. Then she noticed its talons were fuzzy. Soft, even. She swiped at her tears and turned to get a better look. “Well, you’re not so scary after all.”

The beast smiled and tried to be brave. The child had terrible, red eyes. Some sort of liquid was leaking down its face. More dribbled from its nose. Its fur was all shaved off and it was covered in strange blankets. Whimpering, the beast stepped back into the forest as quiet as it could.

magic wands in spring

The wizard narrowed his eyes at the children. They watched in horror as he reached for his wand. Should they run? Was there anywhere to hide? They held their breath as he muttered a few rhymes and pointed his wand at them…and nothing happened at all, for it was spring and the wand was far too busy growing buds and dreaming of leaves to bother with children just being kids and a grumpy old wizard.

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