Archive | December 22, 2009

Sleep and other dreams

Okay, this two posts a day probably won’t last very long, but I couldn’t make the other thing I wanted to talk about on my blog this morning fit in with the ‘name’ theme of the other post.

First of all, I think that it’s important to embrace every part of yourself, and that you can’t change until you’ve accepted the part of you that you WANT to change.  For me, this is two big things, my weight, and my depression.  I don’t have a problem talking openly, or even joking about ether one.  But this leads me to a dilemma, when I’m having a down day, what combined with my writing hobby and all, I tend to get all introspective and emotional, and want to put my feelings down on paper.  The problem is, while this may be deep and meaningful to me, it comes across as sounding emo-y and whiny to the rest of the world, and people who fill their blogs with emo-y and whiny posts should be mocked mercilessly.  And so I promise both of you, dear readers, that I’ll never post about how “my heart is a black hole, which nothing can fill up” or anything similar.   I give you permission to kick me if I ever do.

Okay, now that that is out of the way.  I had a good talk with my psychiatrist yesterday.  She’s happy with how I’m doing on the Lexapro, with her only major concern being that it makes it difficult for me to sleep.  Not so coincidentally, that is also my big concern about the Lexapro.  She suggested that I stay up all day and all night and all the next day, then go to bed to try and reset my body so, you know, I’ll SLEEP at night.  I was planning on starting that today, but, I only got 4 hours of sleep last night, so we’ll see how that goes.  Maybe by the time 10pm rolls around, I’ll be so exhausted that I’ll just want to fall into bed (and stare at the celling until 2).  This should be fun…

Sleep is a big deal in my life.  I love sleep.  I love dreaming.  One of my favorite books–definitely one of the top three in the non-fiction category is called “Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasure of Sleep and Dreams” by Dr. Paul Martin.  One of the biggest struggles I had on my mission (considering what a difficult time I had on the mish, it’s strange to think that this was one of the big ones) is that as a missionary, you go to bed at 10:30, and wake up at 6:30.  Period. Which is fine, if you only take five minutes to go to sleep, and only need about eight hours of sleep a night.  I do not.(or did not, the Lexapro seems to have changed this for me) It has always taken me a long time–45 minutes or more to fall asleep.  And I need closer to 9 or 10 hours a night to be happy and headache free.  I really hope this reset thing works, because right now, it’s 9:30 am, I’ve been up for 2 hours, and I’m ready to go back to bed.  I don’t know if I can handle another 46 sleep-free.

The Name Game

One of the biggest hang-ups I have with my writing is coming up with appropriate names for my characters.  Most people think in a combination of words, images, and feelings–and I’m no exception.  I can, and have, come up with stories involving a half-dozen characters or more, referring to them in my head by phrases such as “the tall man” “the brother” and “the neighbor”.   Which is fine–In my head, but when I try to put the words down, it just doesn’t seem to cut it.

Names can make or break a character. For instance, I recently found an indie film called Ink* on Hulu. I enjoyed the story, but the main character is named John Sullivan, and is played by Søren Kelly.

This guy.

He’s a good-looking guy, but I just don’t see him as a “John Sullivan”. And while “Ink” is an indie film made on a shoestring budget, and there are many elements that kicked me out of the story, Søren Kelly playing a man named “John” was the biggest offender in my book.  And that the kid that they hired to play “Young John” looks nothing like Søren.

A name is an excellent way to express a character’s personality and position in a story. For instance, in The Wheel of Time, one of the main antagonists is named “Mordin”. Even if the author, Robert Jordan, didn’t tell you that in The Old Tongue, “Mordin” means death, it’s a name that portrays evil and blackness. No story that contains the phrase “I just met met our new neighbor down the street. His name is ‘Mordin’ and he seems like a nice guy. He breeds pomeranians.” or one similar could ever be taken seriously.

Names take on a life of their own. I dislike vampires. Let me rephrase that. I dislike modern vampires.  A few months ago, I gave myself a challenge to come up with a vampire that I didn’t find repulsive.  I ended up with a vampire named “Steve”, but who didn’t think that was a vampire-y enough name, so he calls himself “Ion”.  Which leaves me with a problem: The only setting that seemed fitting for Steve/Ion is in a mystery story.  I generally don’t read mysteries, and I certainly don’t know how to write them, and I’m not really interested in learning how for the sake of Steve/Ion.  The second part of my problem comes in that I think the concept of a vampire named “Steve” is fantastic enough, that I can’t use that name for any other purpose.

When I was in my writing phase, I bought a book of baby names from a thrift store, and would scour it for the appropriate names for my characters–all the while hiding it from my roommates, because they would have teased me mercilessly if they had found it. Behind the Name remains one of my favorite websites, mostly because I can do a search for names based on meanings, so, for instance, a character I want to be dark and brooding might end up with a name such as “Corbin”.

If ether or my readers out their are also writers, how do you come up with names for your characters?  What system do you use?  How do you know if you’ve found the perfect name?

*If you follow my link to the movie “Ink”, please be aware.  The description that Hulu gives makes this sound like a family-friendly film.  It’s not.  The first three words spoken are the f-bomb, shouted by the main character at the top of his lungs.  This sets a precedence for the language for the rest of the film.  Basically, if you watch “Ink” with the sound off, it’d be rated PG.  If you watch “Ink” with the sound on, it’d be rated R.

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