Friday, July 6, 2007

What's In A Name?

I've always had this sneaky suspicion that there's a distinct correlation between the uniqueness of an individual's name, and where they go, what they achieve, in life. You're welcome to argue with me-in fact, I urge you to-and I hope that you convince me (because if I'm right, I'm doomed-with a name like Paul Green). So, argue-vehemently, but before you do, allow me to make my case.

Let's start with the media. Now, I recognize that some movie stars change their names early in their careers-most don't though. How many John Smith's or Jane Green's do you see in showbiz? No-you see Bruce Willis and Mandy Moore; Ashton Kutcher and Scarlett Johansson; Daniel Radcliffe, Will Ferrell and Uma Thurman; Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie-you get my point. Can't think of a single movie star of note who has a "normal" name.

But, fortunately for me, I have little desire to act. So, let's examine a few of my real interests-namely writing and music. First, music: any John Smith's there? Off the top of my head, I can't think of any. I can think of plenty of exotic, memorable artist names though: Alanis Morrisette, Israel Houghton, Peter Cetera...the list goes on. Writers? Fortunately for me, there are a few more "normal" names here-Stephen King and even Joe Hill (incidentally, great writer-but it's a pen name; he's actually Stephen King's son). But there are still plenty of exotic ones: Dean Koontz, Ursula Leguin, J.K. Rowling...you get the point.

Are you convinced yet? Well, before you answer, consider sports (Venus Williams, Tiger Woods, Danica Patrick); business (Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, Sam Walton, Carly Fiorina); even, to some degree, politics (Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, Theodore Roosevelt, Mitt Romney). The lists go on.

So, what's in a name? Does a unique, somewhat exotic name, give the owner a "boost"-a leg up on the competition? Or, is it simply that because the name is more memorable, they pop up in their readers, or watchers, or supporters, minds more often? I'd be interested in seeing a scientific poll showing what proportion of "normal" named individuals ended up in the top 10% of their respective careers.

So-my reason for asking: as many of you know (as if anyone is actually reading this), I have started to write-short stories for now (maybe I'll let you, my nonexistent readers, read them at some point), and I hope to someday publish. But, will my chances of seeing my work in print be greater if I adopt a pen name, something more exotic than "P.J. Green"?

I invite comments (yes, from you, my host of loyal readers). In fact, tell your friends to stop by, because I will, in short order, post a poll on the right sidebar of this blog, asking for your input on a variety of pseudonyms.

1 comment:

Deanna Eccles said...

Kind of intense for me. The only famous person I know with a original name is Pochantas' prince (John Smith)