Good morning, writers! Today’s guest author for your Thursday Quick-Write is the brilliant Hena Khan. Hena is the author of GOLDEN DOMES AND SILVER LANTERNS; IT’S RAMADAN, CURIOUS GEORGE; and AMINA’S VOICE.
The Name Game
A friend and I recently overheard a conversation in which a little girl was asking her mother, “but HOW did you KNOW my name BEFORE I WAS BORN?” As we laughed about how cute she was I was reminded that even though a name is something we don’t pick ourselves, it defines us in so many ways.
When I was growing up, my best friend changed her name when we were in elementary school. It left me feeling like I lost a piece of my friend, and that she was deciding to become someone else. I wondered if my own uncommon name was less worthy than I thought it was. And I feared that part of what my friend was choosing to discard, along with her old name, was our relationship.
Maybe because of that experience, the idea of our names and how they shape our identity is something I still think about often. As a kid I often imagined how my life might differ if my name was Melissa, or if I had a really cool nickname (I didn’t). I never changed my name, and kept my last name after marriage. I randomly ask my kids if they like their names, or if they wish they were called something else. And I explore the theme in my newest book, Amina’s Voice, when Amina’s best friend Soojin considers taking a new name, much like my friend did.
Today’s Assignment: Imagine that could go back in time and name yourself before you were born. What name would you choose?
Take a few notes about why you picked that name. Does it have a special meaning? Does it evoke a certain emotion? Can you describe the way it makes you feel—powerful, beautiful, distinguished, quirky, brave, something else? Do you think you would be a different person if you had grown up with that name? Who would you be?
Now, write yourself a short 4-5 line bio—the fun and lighthearted kind that highlights your personality and personal achievements, not a professional bio—using your imagined name. If you think you’d be exactly the same person you are today no matter what your name was, that’s great too! And I’d love to read your name choices and bios in the comments section below.