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Sunday, 19 May 2013

Hobby Horses, the difficulties of naming inanimate objects, and staring at tadpoles.

I am about to start writing a new book.  Now, this is always a tricky time - I fidget a lot and mutter, and stare out of windows chewing my fingernails, but since this is almost impossible to distinguish from my normal behaviour, I forgive you for having overlooked it.  All I can tell you at this stage is that the book is about a woman called Winter, and features a little girl called Scarlet, who owns a hobby horse which operates under the dubious name of 'Light Bulb'.

He looks a bit like this. Only he's red corduroy.

The idea for Light Bulb came from my eldest daughter who, at the age of three was given a small rocking horse for Christmas. When she was asked what she was going to call it, she thought deeply for a moment and then pronounced 'his name is Light Bulb'.

Yes, I know.  She also had a hobby horse, but he was called Saddie, and I refused to name Scarlet's hobby horse Saddie, so I fused the two experiences.  It's a tricky old thing, naming creatures in books.  Characters are not so hard in a way, you find a name that fits their age, background and upbringing; isn't too omnisexual, doesn't sound too much like any other names you've used in the book, isn't the name of a character in a different and entirely unrelated book, doesn't have the same initial or sound as any other names, isn't too hard for the reader to say in their head as they read....all right, naming characters isn't that easy.  Last week I talked about naming the dog in Hubble Bubble (Rufus, thank you Heather). And when you have peripheral pets or creatures like Light Bulb (who plays a large, if somewhat inanimate, part in the book) you have to get those names right too.  After all, Scarlet is eight, she's not going to name her hobby horse Shergar - she's never heard of Shergar. Besides, I'm willing to bet that Shergar, as a champion racehorse, did not wear a white plastic bridle and have one ear out of which the stuffing had come, leaving him with floppy red corduroy obscuring his vision.  If he did, then it's really no wonder he was stolen.

Absolutely no red corduroy was used in the making of this horse.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a day's worth of procrastination to be getting on with. There's a pond full of tadpoles to be stared at, and last night's episode of Doctor Who won't talk about itself on Facebook, will it?


Rachel Daven Skinner said...

Jane, I think that's the best photo caption I've ever seen. I adore you.

kate johnson said...

I believe TS Eliot was going to write about The Naming of Hobby Horses, when someone tapped him on the shoulder and said, "I say, cats are probably better, old boy." And happily, they were right.

I found naming the dog in my latest book quite easy--big and fierce, Brutus works perfectly--but spent about seven hours faffing over the name of a ship. All the good ones were taken!

Jane Lovering said...

Thank you, Rachel! Not just a caption, but a true fact as well...

Kate - can you have more than one ship with the same name? Or, like..I dunno, actors, do they have to add something if there's another one? Could explain the SS Mike Titanic, I suppose...