I started my fourth “literary” or as I prefer non-genre novel in 2010 with an idea that served its purpose and then not only didn’t end up in the book but was never even written. This would be the first book or even story I wrote that featured primarily the dynamics within a family. So I knew that family would have to be named. Names, for me, have little importance. I find ones that feel right and then I stop thinking about them. Some writers would say names are important, which just means names are important to those writers. I generally hit on names that feel “right” right out of the gate and I’m onto thinking about what feels important to me, as a writer, because that’s the only gauge I have for feeling like I’m on the right path.
The last change I made to Flowers on Concrete was the main character’s name. I came out of the gate without one and substituted “Jimmy” because I thought that name posed no risk of attachment. Then I felt the risk of attachment pulling, so I changed it to Chris. Readers of the novel might recognize “Chris” as the name on Sean’s nametag when Trey first meets him while Sean’s working, because Sean would never wear a nametag with his name on it, but has no trouble wearing a nametag with a fake name everyone will read and think is his real name, because he’s Sean. Inside jokes of this sort, that only me and readers of early drafts would get, are dangerously tempting and should be avoided unless they’re harmless so when they’re harmless, indulge away! I thought of Trey as the main character’s name because “Trey” strikes me as a name that sounds short for something though often enough it’s not, which seemed fitting for a character who interfaces with his social circle without seeming to recognize his participation in that circle. But mostly as soon as I thought of it Trey felt “right” and I’ve never questioned it since.
So for this book I used underlines where the family’s last name would go and waited for a name to feel “right.” None did. And now, on the verge of having a readable draft ready to print, one needed to. I’ve taken multiple walks through the cemetery reading graves and pondering possible names. I felt like I was forcing it so I kept putting it off. Today I thought of one. If you’re reading this expecting this blog to end with what it is, I’m sorry. I’m not going to say because it wouldn’t mean anything. It’s just a name. It’s not like the dude’s rug in The Big Lebowski that ties the book together. It has perhaps a touch of meaning in the context of the novel but mostly it does its job of being the name of the family and drawing little to no attention to itself. I thought of it and it just felt “right” and I don’t expect to think about it again.
I desperately hope, one day, the novel is available for people to read and you’ll know the name then. If I’ve annoyed you with this post, please just ask and I can tell you the name privately but really, I promise, it wouldn’t be a highlight of your day. Flowers on Concrete, my first novel, is available at Amazon, in paperback and as an Ebook. Amazon has a convenient feature where you can read the opening few chapters to get a sense of whether or not the book appeals to you. If it does, you can purchase one there or purchase one from me. Thank you for reading.