“My dog is so spoiled he even has a pen name.” -cb

Names are important. When I was little I used to spend hours, sometimes days picking names for my new stuffed animals. I couldn’t just miscellaneously bestow a name upon them and expect good results. No. I had to get to know my stuffed animals. See them with their peers. Feel their energy. Okay, so I was a little weird. No one is debating that fact. The point is, names mean a lot to me.

Recently I started a picture book series based upon none other than the star of my life, my dog, Walter.

I watched him, observed him in his environment, (which is basically on my lap) and let my thoughts autonomously collide into stories.

I wrote one, and then another, and then another until I had a good basis for a series.

I was feeling pretty good about things until one of my writing buddies pointed out that a picture book series about a dog named Walter already exists. Walter the Farting Dog–to be exact.

I couldn’t believe it. Not only was my project brought to a halt, my
old soul dog now had a flatulating namesake!

I took a few moments to let my disappointment ride to the surface and then kicked it out and began the search for a new name to put to his stories.

I, the child that spent days researching my stuffed animals, took this new responsibility seriously. I studied lists of boy names, dog names, and city names. I wrote down my favorites and surveyed my friends. I even took the top three names, plugged them into my stories, and read them aloud to myself–repeatedly.

Yet, no matter what I tried, nothing seemed to fit.

As a former teacher, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know hundreds of children which, incidentally, comes in handy when devising characters. So I pulled out my old class pictures and searched for a personality similar to my beloved Walter.

I scanned expressions, searched faces, recalled tons of wonderful memories, and finally, after many hours and a full bag of kettle chips, I found him. The piece to my puzzle.

This former student was smart, silly, well behaved, and so darn cute you’d want to put him in your pocket and carry him around with you. But above all else, even back in first grade, this boy was an old soul. He was the kind of child that tried so hard to remain serious despite the huge smile that crept up his cheeks and the constant twinkle in his eye.

This child’s name also happened to be one of my favorite literary characters of all time. And so it was. Walter got a pen name and Owen was born.

Incidentally, if you’ve never owned a dog and think it strange that I named a dog‘s character after a little boy, please note, given my complete adoration towards Walter, this is a top honor in my book.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Laura
    Sep 25, 2013 @ 00:03:31

    Can’t wait to meet Owen! I feel like I know him already.


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