I’ve been unhappy with the name of my blog for some time now.
Not that The Rules of Engagement is terrible as far as names in general go. There have been at least two movies called that (one about the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas no less; the other a military legal thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson) as well as a sitcom that just concluded its seventh and final season last year.
And yet, The Rules of Engagement is indeed the name of two movies and a long-running sitcom.
Which is to say, it’s not particularly original.
Plus, I didn’t put any real thought into it when I chose it as the name for my blog.
When I finally decided to take the plunge into blogging again, I’d already sat on the fence about it for too long, agonizing over how I’d find the time for it, whether I’d be any good at it, whether I’d end up quitting after four months the way I did with my first blog back in 2004.
I needed to just start blogging already and screw worry and doubt. But to start, I needed a name.
A friend, speaking on a completely unrelated-to-writing subject (she was talking about dating) just happened to utter the turn-of-phrase “the rules of engagement”, and I was like “SOLD!”
It sounded catchy, and I’d just started writing again after a six-year hiatus – a serious battle with my creativity that felt worthy of a set of directives in line with military meaning of “Rules of Engagement”.
Names have power
It’s actually quite unlike me to have given my blog’s name so little consideration, for the proper naming of things is of great importance to me.
Many facets of mysticism, folklore, and philosophy hold the concept of the True Name – a name that expresses or is identical to the true nature of a thing, which itself is a thing of power.
I’m no mystic, but I do tend to feel a sense of rightness when I encounter certain people or places or things with certain names.
When I name characters for my stories, it’s like choosing an outfit for a social event: stressful, crucial, sort of exciting, and, when I finally find the right fit, truly like a set of garments that conforms to the character like close-fitting fabric cut to the latest style.
It all at once allows me to see the character’s full potential, not just physically, but as a complex, conflicted, driven persona as well, as if the name makes the character more real.
In my first (incomplete, shelved, someday to be rewritten) fantasy novel, I gave each chapter a title. I also gave myself the goal of each title having at least two different meanings within the context of the story.
The one chapter title that had ended up having four meanings (“True Colours”) felt really right.
In that same novel, to make the place names sound right – to sound like the kingdom they belonged to was an old on with national identity – I created both a language and a naming convention based on natural features (e.g. water, mountains) and their description (e.g. east, large, dry).
The name of my WIP is so perfect, I refuse to share it until the novel is complete for fear of somehow jinxing it.
What’s my power/purpose?
When it came to rename my blog, I knew that this time I wanted something that had meaning for me – preferably something that described me as an artist, if not the way view the world as a whole. I also knew I didn’t just want it to be my name.
“Janna G. Noelle” does, of course, describe me as an artist on a fundamental level. It also adheres to the recommendation of some social media experts that a blog should simply be called [Blogger’s Name]’s Blog for ease of name recognition and branding.
But my name doesn’t show the type of artist I am to anyone who doesn’t already know me: someone who likes to summarize, to categorize, to classify; someone who writes, not only to someday entertain others, but also to educate myself on thorny, real-life concepts through the confining frame of a story.
Because stories, for all the complexity that goes into their creation, are really quite contrived. Even if a given scene in a story seems confusing in the moment, it will almost always make sense in the end.
Real life doesn’t make all that much sense – at least not to me, not fully. Rather, it is large, largely unknowable, and filled with infinite possibilities and potentialities.
Stories help me put a frame around the infinite, and names help me define the essential nature of my creations.
Hence the new name for my blog:
A Frame Around Infinity.
(To learn the rest of the story on why I chose this name, check out the essay/artist’s statement about it.)
Fellow bloggers, what are your thoughts on names? What is the meaning behind your blog’s name? Let me know in the comment section.
(Image source #1/#2, #3 – J.G. Noelle, and #4)
9 thoughts on “What’s in a (Blog) Name?”
I like the new name. It is intriguing and has that artistic edge to it. All artistic ventures, in my mind, try to capture a moment and convey that to the public, be it in the written word, song, a painting, a photograph, etc. So the name ”A Frame around Infinity” certainly conveys this.
I may change mine in time. When I first thought about a name for my blog I was thinking about the power of words. I was thinking of some of the speeches I’ve heard, the books I’ve read that will have a passage in them that slips into the hearts and minds of so many.
I also was thinking of the influence we have on each other, hence the name “power of one”.
That was taken though, so I meant to write “Power of One by Nancy”, however, I messed up and it came out ‘powerofonenancy’ and has remained ever since.
Thanks for your insight into the power of a name. Certainly something to consider down the road.
Thanks, Nancy. I like the sentiments you’re capturing in your blog’s name. Knowing you as I do, it seems very true to your character. “Power of One” also makes me think of the book by the same title by Eckhart Tolle. I haven’t read it, so I don’t know if that served as an inspiration as well.
I always laugh when I hear the story of your mis-typed URL. If it really bothers you, you can always map a new domain name onto your site. I plan to do that with mine, and that, at least, will be my name, for ease of name recognition and branding, as Kristen Lamb recommends.
Cool! Dig the new name. “Rules of Engagement” was fine, but it didn’t say much about you or your interests and views. You have struck me as someone who likes to impose order and systems and work out the details as a way of defining things, so the name suits.
My blog name “Clawing at the Keys” is intended to evoke something supernatural and shadowy, like a creature with bony fingers and talons pecking away at a keyboard (then I added a pic of myself to reinforce the whole “strange creature” concept). The secondary meaning of the title refers to my musical side, as a songwriter searching for the right compositional key. God, that sounds pretentious when I explain it, doesn’t it? That’s it, my blog is called “Read my stuff. Please” from now on.
Just call me Little Miss Reductionist. I’m hardly the life of the party, but you should see how fast they come looking for me at work when things go awry. 😉
I’ve always like the name of your blog. The way you explain it is pretty much the way I’ve always interpreted it: your writing, your music, your love of the sci-fi and horror genres. I never considered musical keys, but, of course – yet another layer of meaning, just like my hallowed four-meaning chapter title. I don’t think it’s pretentious at all. Hell, I wrote an essay explaining my blog’s name. Now that’s pretentious!
It’s a personal thing – if a blog title makes you feel good like certain clothes, or a new hairstyle that’s great. I can’t say I’ve ever really taken notice of blog titles – the content is everything. Your content is consistently excellent Janna.
As to mine, it took about three seconds. Late in 2009 I found myself suddenly back in Jersey after a couple of years away. ‘Roy In Ireland’ very quickly became ‘Back On The Rock’ 🙂
I’ll admit, Roy, I take notice of the titles for everything, for I’m always interested in how summarize a work and represent it as a whole. I like “Back On The Rock”, for it suggests that you were previously on a journey, and have since returned a changed and wiser person – a sort of there-and-back-again bit of personal growth. Plus, “the Rock”, for me, evokes fond images of Newfoundland (which is nicknamed “The Rock”), and the more rustic, simpler way of life I led when I lived there.
Naming anything is one of the hardest things for me to do. Trying to name a novel is my pet hate (but my daughter is brilliant in that area). I usually google anything I’m going to name just to make sure no one else is using it. I love ‘A frame Around Infinity’ – I googled it and your the only one I found. Congratulations and well done 😀
I agree – names are tough, though it’s the type of challenge I enjoy, like trying to run an 8-minute mile after the first two 9-minute miles. 🙂
I googled it… Wow – Google moves fast. I only just changed the name on Monday and already I’ve been re-indexed. I expected it to take way longer. I’m definitely happy no one else has the name. 🙂
Woo hoo! It usually take ages for Google to update. Well done 😀