Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 11, 2010

Mumbling for the Moment

This fall my nephew and his wife were expecting a baby who they knew would be a boy. With that question answered, naturally people asked, “Have you decided on a name?”

“Yes, but we’re not telling.”

With some gentle, I hope, prying, I got the longer story. They’d mentioned the name Duncan to a friend, who volunteered that the kid would likely be called Dunkin’ Donuts. So the parents-to-be backed off from that perfectly good name, and decided to wait until birth to announce their chosen name of Ian. Ben and Kelly are wise. Almost everybody feels free to weigh in on name choice when the unnamed is still in the womb, but it takes a tough guy to criticize the name of someone small held in arms you care about.

I was thinking about this as I feel my way into a new work, and mumble when people ask what it’s about. Once I’m sure I’m underway, I’ll feel the need to finish as best I can, but right now one lift of an eyebrow or evident swallowing could make me feel as if I’ve latched onto a very bad idea. And maybe it is, but it’s mine. I’m not necessarily going to love it at conception or even at birth as it enters the world with a mix of self doubt and faith. It’s the rare person who would connect Duncan and donuts, (and that person was surely trying to avert crisis), I thank everyone for your patience and good wishes as I head out without much of a message about where I’m going. I promise when the baby is named you’ll get the first peek.



  1. Good point! It’s all the more effective since I, too, am feeling my way into something new. So far so good, but that’s as much as I’m willing to say.

  2. I think you’re wise, too.

  3. So far so good sounds really great! Of course we probably couldn’t be writers if we couldn’t be patient. Good luck with your project.

  4. Aw, thanks. I don’t think anyone’s ever called me that.

  5. I was exactly the same way about baby names and I don’t share my project, at all, until I have at least one draft written. I don’t need anyone bursting my balloon.
    Looking forward to when you’re ready to share.

  6. Yeah, we really want to have a balloon before someone tries to burst it.
    Sometimes I think I’ve learned to have a harder shell over the years, but it’s at moments like this I think, um, maybe not.

  7. Great comparison. I think talking out loud about things is so risky–especially if we worry what our own reaction TO the reaction will be.

  8. We were the same way with baby names. We wouldn’t even tell the nurses in the delivery room, and they were rather put out about it! But I wanted our baby to hear the name first.
    And I keep quiet about projects in the early stages, too, especially fiction. So you won’t get any arguments from me!

  9. I don’t talk in specific detail about works in progress either. We all have our own needs when it comes to process, and so I think we can all respect each other’s needs there. Have fun with the project, whatever it is!

  10. Oh, that’s very sweet about letting your baby hear the name first.
    I think it’s always hard to put a project into a few words, and it’s hardest of all when you’re at the stage of wanting the words to wind out.

  11. Yes, I think there’s a club of us here who just say wip and we know what we mean. Thanks for the wishes for fun, which it is, with some gulping and of course second and third thoughts.

  12. I keep quiet about my projects, too, until I know I’ve made my connection. About baby names, we didn’t name the girls until we saw them. Wanted to be sure the names were right for each one. Plus, if I heard any more suggestions or opinions…
    As for Duncan….I had a tiny crush from afar on a Duncan my freshman year in college. No one in their right mind would ever dare call him Dunkin’ Donuts. He was a 6-foot-tall football player with the looks of a movie star. Simply divine. And that is what I will always think of when I hear the name Duncan.

  13. I totally get this attitude and more power to you for know this about yourself and saying so. I probably talk too much about my WIP but then I probably talk too much about most things. 🙂
    Good luck finding your way on the new project.

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