Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Names (Will Grayson, Will Grayson. No spoilers.)

It is currently 2:27AM and I have just finished reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I really liked it and it didn't go the way I thought it would, which is nice. My only regret is that I sat and read it at home, rather than in public, where its iridescent cover would have flushed out hiding Nerdfighters and recruited them to the charitable cause of It's Time to Date Rohan Now.

(In my head I am reading the book at a bus stop and a bristlingly intelligent and drop-dead gorgeous commuter turns and asks me "Is that Will Grayson, Will Grayson?" even though she knows perfectly well that's what it is. I say "Why yes! Are you a Nerdfighter?" She will say "Oh my goodness yes! I want to read that book SO BADLY! How did you get it?" With panache I will say, "I ordered it online. I'm nearly finished though, you can borrow it if you want. What's your phone number?" Because, in my head, I am a smooth operator like that.)

Haha! Sorry. I always feel that way after reading a John Green book. And I felt that way after reading Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist as well, which is the only exposure to David Levithan's work I've had. I didn't love this one quite as much as John's others, but that says more about my stratospheric opinion of those novels than a supposed lack of quality of this one. I loved it, is what I'm trying to say. I'll probably be unpacking it for months.

The question I'd like to ask John (and David) on their book tour that I'll never get a chance to? The Will Graysons felt they shared something even though they couldn't be more different as people. In this Googlised world where something almost doesn't exist unless it has a unique search term, how important are our names in defining our identity?

I'm sure this is actually one of the central themes to the book. Is it cheating to ask the author these questions? Anyway, if anyone is still to see John and David on their tour (which I don't believe has finished?) could you maybe ask it for me? And maybe if you can, film the response? I know it's long, and a big ask, but you know, whatever. Maybe I'll get a chance to ask it at VidCon. Who knows?

You see, I'm not like John Green and David Levithan, who both have name-doppelgängers (I know this from watching their live feed). I am the one and only person in the whole world (or at least, the whole internet) who has my first and last names. In fact, I'm not putting my full name in this post (even though it's not a secret - check my Twitter feed if you want to know) because I don't want it to be the first thing that pops up when you Google my name. I've always felt sort of betrayed if I even meet another 'Rohan', or even another 'Rowan' with different surnames, because that's my name damn it! Give it back!

But that isn't the experience most people have with their names. Names are usually shared. How do you breathe your own brand of life into your name when it's been used so many times before? Are names even really important?

Maybe that's the real question I want to ask; the core of the question I have up there in italics. Like, the italics is the question I'd use to sound smart, and "Are names even really important" is the question I'm really trying to ask. Anyway, this is all getting a bit too meta for my liking, let's move on.

Something else I loved about the book was that Jane was nothing like Alaska or Margo. Jane wasn't manic-pixie, but was equally as loveable without being self-destructive. After all, the book wasn't about her. Jane actually reminded me of my friend Christina in a lot of ways. Christina should totally play Jane in the stage production of this book (because this should definitely be a stage production rather than a movie. I'm sure Tiny would be mortified if it happened any other way.)

In other news, these tweets went out yesterday...

...but I didn't hear anything from them today. Neither did anyone else on Twitter. I'm not, like, dying of suspense or anything like that (like I did with Hungry Beast) but I am looking forward to having a little certainty in my life. Or not, should I get the interview after all. But then I've got something to work towards, and having a chance to get this job is by far the most preferable scenario. I mean, I'm qualified for this and I'm confident this is what I want to do. Looking back, I did make a few mistakes on my application though, so this could go either way.

Oh man it is totally 3:30AM now. Why do I go to bed at such ludicrous times?

Until tomorrow,



  1. Perhaps you go to bed at ludicrous times because you spend an hour writing a blog, which, while it makes for a lovely and thought-provoking read for us chickens, certainly makes less sleepy time for yourself.

    I know precisely what you mean about reading in public to smoke out the hidden nerdfighters. I read Paper Towns all over campus when it came out but no one ever gave me a second glance. I've given up hope of finding any nerdfighters in the area... =( If a guy ever got excited that I was reading a John Green book, I would probably just marry him on the spot. What I wouldn't give to know some nerdfighters IRL...

  2. Having a name like Stephanie I tend to meet people with my name all the time, which I always got so excited about when I was little. One year in band there were actually 3 of us that played flute and were seated all in a row!
    I am one of the few of us I know that prefers the full name over Steph though, so that can be a nice way to avoid confusion!

  3. I would ask the question for you but, alas, the tour stop near me has already passed and it is unlikely that I'll get another chance to see them on this tour.

  4. I am mega jealous that you've already finished 'Will Grayson, Will Grayson'... mine is still waiting to be shipped from Amazon. And it will probably arrive when my exams are imminent. Great. *sigh*

    Interesting thoughts about names... I am (as far as I'm aware) the only person in the whole world with my first name and surname combo too. I think that's pretty cool, though I do get paranoid sometimes about being the only 'me' on Google and therefore easy to find info about...

    Having the name 'Joy' means that I have thought about my name a fair bit, and I get a lot of comments about being joyful. It's a constant challenge to live up to my name, but not always in a negative way. As I've gotten older I've realised what true joy really is and means and feels like. I like my name a lot.

    Also, because it's a relatively uncommon name, it's always incredibly exciting to meet other people named Joy :) Unlike you, I enjoy that shared identity. There is a sense of a bond - i'll be interested to read WGWG and see what the writers make of that bond. Can get confusing though - there's another Joy at my church, and i'm not used to someone calling my name and it not referring to me!

    Here endeth the essay, haha. Sorry! :) Lots of interesting thoughts...

  5. I do think one's name is important. I was born Natalie Emily plus my surname in Sydney, but then my parents decided to emigrate to Spain -why? you ask? I've asked myself the same question for year. Anyway, when we (and by we I mean, they) decided to move, my parents had to register me over there; according to the law then, any Christian name that wasn't Spanish but that could be translated should be so. I ended up having the pretty name Natalia Emilia on my ID and Spanish Passport. It didn't matter that in my birth certificate I was Natalie, or that my parents had chosen that name for me, or that all my friends knew me as Natalie or that I thought of myself as Natalie. My own name was denied from me until very recently.

    Living in Spain has meant that my name has been quite unique. I have come to dislike Natalia, and unfortunately I never really liked the Natalias I have met. However, I do travel to the UK quite frequently, and I get mixed feelings whenever I meet a Natalie: first I am intrigued by this person, but then I feel that -as you said- MY name was being used by someone else and I wanted it back.

    I wonder how people who have really common names react to meeting other Daves, Mark or Sarahs. I suppose that's what nicknames are for... To create that uniqueness that we all look for.

  6. As a Sarah, I thought I'd answer Nat's question, just in case she checks this later. It's never really bothered me that there are so many Sarah's around because I haven't really known anything else. From kindergarten through high school, there were always two or three of us in a class (and like Steph, there were three of us that played clarinet), and it actually weirded me out when I got to college and I was the only one I knew. For the six years I've been in college/grad school, I can only think of one or two that I've met, so now I'm slowly starting to think of it as MY name. Especially since I have a relatively uncommon last name, and we're even the only ones in my extended family with it (both my dad and his father were only sons, so I have no cousins with my last name).

    Overall, I think society does still believe that names are an important first step in creating a unique identity. Hence the trend of "creative" spellings of common first names, because your child is special and should stand out from the crowd. I guess we'll find out in twenty years, when those children are naming their own kids, whether they found their name unique and wonderful or just plain annoying to constantly explain.

  7. My name is Katie Ann (plus last name) and I've never known many other Katie's except for when I was little. Katie isn't a nickname though. It's my real name. People I've just met always ask me if it stands for Katherine or Kathryn or Katrina. No. It's just Katie. When I was little, people would misspell it all the time, they would spell it Katy. And I hated that because that wasn't my name! I'm more over it now, and it rarely happens anymore, but I still think I'm more of a Katie than a Katy, and I'm definitely not a Katherine. :P

  8. ((Stephanie - I am a Stephanie that prefers "Stephanie" too! It's a pleasure to meet you!)) People are always surprised that I prefer my full name, but I think "Steph" sounds so boring, like "stuff" or "staff" or "stiff." I find that I tend to call people by their full names as well though... Mike and Jay (as opposed to Michael and Jason) are especially difficult for me to say! I find people's names have such a musical quality when they are said in full; it seems much more poetic to use a full name.