The Thing About Names…

When my mother named me, it was not to match my last name. I was the third child and the second daughter. She said I was red all over when I was born but the next morning when she lifted my shirt to examine me again, only my belly was still red. She thought I looked like a robin red breast – the bird; my last name was pure coincidence. I have read that “the robin symbolizes poetry…and finding the personal song of the soul” (All About Symbols – Andrew T. Cummings) among other things.  I‘ve written poetry since I was eight years old and a few songs sung from the soul have found their way into at least two of my plays – not intentional just something that happened. As I examine my work, I find little pieces of me here and there in some form or another – not always recognizable but there… if only in how I approached the piece and why. As a child, I wanted a different name but a different name would make me a different kind of writer. Of course, I realize now the significance of having the name I was given…

I take great care when giving names to my characters the same way my mother took care to make sure my name fit me. Even WOMAN and MAN are names given with care. Usually, after finding names for my characters, their personalities readily reveal themselves. Often, the name even moves the story. Rarely have I been able to start a piece without naming the characters first. Character names are as important to the piece as the story and taking the time to find the right one always helps me to find my way into their worlds…unless they just want to tell me which has happened a few times. Nothing like driving down the street and having a character just start to talk. If I wasn’t a writer, I would think I was crazy – for sure. None of my plays have written the same way the last one did, possibly because I am never the same when I sit down to write them. Each project is a new adventure, a new opportunity to tell the best story I can and to learn how to tell even better stories in the future. It’s exciting, it’s scary; it’s altogether lovely and well worth the ride… It’s the joy of my life to always be writing…

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