Writing Assignment: Write About Your Name

by Randy Murray on March 11, 2011

Names have an interesting magic. Our name are a label we carry with us through life. For the most part they’re assigned by others, by history, by chance. But each of us has a choice in how we shape our names for others.

And therein lies a story.

Many stories, actually. There’s the story of how you were named and what each part of you name signifies for yourself and your family.  There’s the story of how your name has shaped you, how other people react to your name. And there’s the story of how you shaped your name to fit your life and how that may have changed as your life changed. There’s a lot of potential in just your own name.

For today’s assignment, tell a story about your name.  Keep it simple, short, but be specific and as detailed as you can. And remember, this is a personal story, so try and give up something of yourself in the telling of it.

Here’s my example:

Please, call me Randy.

I’ve always preferred that to the more formal “Randal” in person. I even use Randy on my business cards and correspondence, too. But that wasn’t the way I did it for most of my career. I’d use the full “Randal T. Murray” and it’s surprising how well that name sticks with people. Maybe it’s because it’s symmetrical. Or maybe because of that strong consonant, the powerful “T” is right there in the middle. Maybe because of “James T. Kirk” and my open trekkish fandom.

I’ve used my full name proudly all my life and still sign my name that way, or would if my signature were more than a scrawl. It’s a good strong name.

But it’s Randy to you. I think it sounds friendly and open. And that’s how I try to live my life and operate my business dealings. It’s just me. Just Randy. I think it’s more personal and informal and that matches my life these past few years. I don’t often wear a tie, I don’t go into an office, but I’m happy to work with you.

And that’s just fine with me.


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Writing Assignment: Write About Your Name by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mari March 17, 2011 at 12:01 am

Fact: Every day of my life that I have met a new person I have had to explain how to pronounce my name. And on some days I’ve met more than one person. Thanks, Mom.

This past weekend was the first time ever that a man told me his daughter’s name is Mari. Coincidentally his wife’s name is Sue, my middle name. I’ve yet to meet another Mari Sue. (Wondering now if his mother’s name was Bernice.)

In 2009 I began to tell people my name rhymes with starry. Some one I met suggested it sounded better than “sorry,” the rhyme that stuck since college where my dorm mates made me a shirt that read “SORRY MARI.” Starry is a better phonetic fit: one’s regional accent can affect the pronunciation of “sorry,” morphing it into “soary” whereupon I excruciatingly become Morey. Reminds me of Morey Amsterdam. Remember him? I liked him, but that’s a different Morey story.

I’ve heard my mother tell my naming story dozens of times so despite having no memory of being there I am able to retell the highlights of the conversation. The nurse who was sent into my mother’s hospital room with the blank birth certificate asked: “Do you have a name for your baby girl?” to which my mother replied: “Yes. Mari Sue.” The nurse responded: “I’ll come back tomorrow.” When my mother tells it, at this point people tend to laugh. “I named her after her grandmother,” she continues. “Her father’s mother whose name was Mary. But I don’t like the name Mary so I made it Mari. Mary was a wonderful woman – my husband adored his mother.”

Mary, Marie, Maria, Marnie, Maru, Mia, Mya, Meera, Myree – I’m not shy about giving people a hand when it comes to remembering how to pronounce my name.
Me: “Hello. I’m Mari.”
The other person: (Pick one from above) “Maru?”
Me: “No, it’s Mari. Rhymes with starry.”
The other person: (Usually laughs here. Not sure if from embarrassment or if there’s really something funny about “starry.”) “Is it short for something?”
Me: “No. It’s just short.” (I can thank my Mom for that.)

Thanks, too, to @cptnrandy whose Writing Assignments coax the words from my pencil.


Randy Murray March 17, 2011 at 8:42 am

Now that’s a story! Thanks, Mari.


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