same-named? setting yourself apart from or connecting to

Before my memoir was published, I did a lot of searching. Not to be confused with a figurative searching of the soul, for connections, for my place in life, but a literal internet search. My due diligence was to see if there were books like mine with similar titles, stories, or themes. I would publish my work in a competitive field, and I wanted to give my book its best chance at being different, setting itself apart from the others.

Part of my due diligence was to consider what name I should use on the book’s cover. Were there other authors with my surname? Previously I had written on this blog What’s in a surname, anyway?  about the origins of “Chadwick” and contrary to my belief, found that “Chadwick” was not that uncommon a last name; I was naïve.

After an internet search, “Nancy Chadwick” netted six million results. Among the top matches, there were other Nancy Chadwick’s:  a therapist, social worker, a travel advisor, a professional photographer, a breeder of Golden Retrievers . . . and even an actress in “The First Nudie Musical”. Wait. What? reports 66 Nancy Chadwick’s in the US. At first, I thought what are these people doing with my name with a little rising of indignation that I was not them. I was me, not a therapist or dog breeder.

In a Psychology Today post, one contributor theorized that having the same name can make us feel slightly more empowered, a feeling driven to set ourselves apart from the other same-named person. She said there may be a sense of name pride when you share your name with someone else.

This may be true, but in addition to identifying differences between our same-named persons, there’s also a curiosity about who they are. How old are they and what do they do? Where do they live? It’s a mystery we flirt with, a possibility that maybe there is something that connects us, other than by our same-name.

When I found Nancy Chadwick, a writer, too, I was surprised. She not only has my first and last name but she is also an author. This Nancy’s book was published in French in 2016, titled (translated) Still Time: A Love Letter.  

Here’s part of the book’s synopsis (translated, literally): In this short story Nancy Chadwick gives us to hear but also to see. Thanks to a very lively language, she becomes the director of our imagination. There is in what she confides to us, with honesty and modesty, the words of a woman who encounters the tragic in her life without ever falling into the dramatic. She writes, “There is this emptiness, this lack – this silence that is bigger than me. His body is there, not moving. He scares me. I have the feeling that he is going to speak, say something. He does not say anything. I’m afraid of him – this man I love.”  

Just from the book’s synopsis and a quote from her writing, I wanted to know about her, this other Nancy Chadwick. Could there be a small sliver of commonality, personality perhaps . . .  a connection? Was I looking for a kindred spirit? But why? Maybe I didn’t want to feel apart from this same-named person but relished in a possible shared likeness. After all, we are both writers and from the sound of it, writers who love words and language and imagination.

Sure, I wanted to set myself apart from my same-named person to validate my unique self in form and function as I sought results from an internet search. But I still couldn’t help but to feel curious about another shared-named person. Perhaps it was touching on the intimate where I was a member of a private club for only women named “Nancy Chadwick.”

I may tend toward the dramatic but fall short at being an actress, and I do love to capture Kodak moments but am no professional photographer. And no, I’m not that Nancy Chadwick, the author of a book written in French, but I am the other Nancy Chadwick, the author of a memoir written in my unique voice and language, in distinction, with name-pride.

Have you done an internet search on your name? What made you do it and what did you feel when you discovered same-named people?

5 thoughts on “same-named? setting yourself apart from or connecting to

  1. Hi, Nancy, at my publicist’s suggestion around the time my book came out, I set up a Google alert for my name. She said I’d see whenever people were talking about me or my book. I do periodically get alerts that a Donna Cameron is in the news, but it’s rarely, if ever, me. Thanks for mentioning I learned that there are 190 people in the country with my name. However, based on the number of obituaries I see for Donna Camerons through Google alerts, I think that number is dwindling. Fun post. Thank you.


  2. A very nice “same name” Canadian woman asked to friend me on Facebook some years ago because she thought it would be fun. It’s a little weird to see Sherry Drew’s posts. And I occasionally get emails meant for another Sherry Drew in St. Louis – she coordinates truck transports and has a very similar email address. I forward them on to her with a note to the sender.

    Liked by 1 person

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