Tag Archives: happiness

What’s In A Name?

Mene Mene

‘What’s in a name?’

– Shakespeare

When it comes to naming a book or a business, it’s an important step. You want something that represents the being of what is to be presented to the world. I thought I’d share this week the history of the naming of Right Ink On The Wall – partly because naming is storytelling in itself, and partly because the name has meaning to me. I’d like it to have meaning for you, too.

I wanted something that was punchy and played with words. Words and writing are so visually engaging – I could see inkwells and quills, pens and paper, books and shelves, typewriters and blotters, scribes and scripture, stone and chisels… graffiti and walls. I wanted to be a wordsmith, to tinker with words and their meanings, their spellings, their etymology. From the above, I bet you can guess many of the names that I searched, finding many taken. None of them were quite right anyway. They didn’t write well. And there it was, the writing on the wall. Suddenly, a whole host of wall imagery appeared – familiar walls and famous walls. And I thought about what walls can mean.

Walls can divide but they can also protect. Walls can be built but they can also be broken down. You can sit on one side of a wall or the other. You can hit a wall. You can overcome a wall. They can be associated with writer’s block and building blocks. They can be used for good or evil. And the best walls have strong foundations.

‘The writing on the wall’ is a tragic phrase whose history lies in scripture (Daniel 5). It’s a moral tale in which God plays with words, which are written on a wall by a disembodied hand. The sinful king, Belshazzar, has Daniel provide meaning where his wise men can only offer translation. The words are not a warning – they are a judgement. God has numbered the days of Belshazzar’s reign. He has been weighed on the scales and been found wanting. His kingdom will be divided.

I’d like to reclaim ‘the writing on the wall’ and create a shared understanding of my version, or vision, of The Wall. To me, The Wall is the infinite space where anything that has ever been written is recorded. It’s like the library of the world, or the facade of the world. And I want to invoke a feeling that The Wall is permanent. I suppose it’s a personification of history. The Wall is where you make your mark on the world and you want it to be right, as marks on The Wall, whether words or actions, go down in posterity.

The foundations of Right Ink On The Wall are not just about making the mark you write on the wall accurate but also leaving the right mark on the world. And encouraging people (much like myself not so long ago) who haven’t had the self-belief to act yet or make any mark at all, to actually make a move to write ink on the wall of the world, by whatever means. This message and mission can hark back to the implications of the doom-laden origins of ‘the writing on the wall’ and it recalls Steve Job’s third story in his Stamford address, in which he comments, ‘Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.’ Yes, life is transient, we are temporary beings, i.e. life is short. So, we have the chance to pass out of the world with a whisper or to leave our mark on The Wall for others to read. And if we want to stamp ourselves on the world before we go, hopefully we want our mark to be morally good – leaving the right sort of ink on The Wall.

There is a fascinating history to the power of naming. It crops up time and again, from sacred texts to fairy tales. Why does Rumpelstiltskin’s name have such power? Why does Voldemort’s? There is consideration of the concept of ‘true names’ in philosophy, folklore and fantasy.  A true name is considered powerful in that it expresses the true nature of a being. I hope that my name expresses the true nature of my business.

When it comes to business and branding and successful names, how have ‘Google’, ‘Skype’ and ‘Apple’ become so catchy? How have ‘Virgin’ and ‘Amazon’? There can be power in the naming of things, but I believe there is more power in the substance of things. The names that become important are not necessarily the ones we are bombarded with, through as much advertising as possible. Perhaps this works for some household names, but the names that have the most power are the names that have the most meaning, that are connected with ideas that connect with people.

So, the question isn’t: what’s your name? But, rather: who are you? As Shakespeare’s Juliet wonders, ‘What’s in a name?’

Rabbits & The Corporate World

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‘To come to the end of a time of anxiety and fear!

To feel the cloud that hung over us lift and disperse –

that cloud that dulled the heart and made happiness no more than a memory!’

– Richard Adams

Watership Down and the lesser-known Tales From Watership Down are two of my all-time favourite books. I’ve read and reread Watership Down and fall in love with it every time, which means I relished the chance to revisit the world when I discovered the tales. I popped down the rabbit-hole again when writing my dissertation at university. My question was: ‘Is fulfilment possible?’ And the work was a discussion on utopia, dystopia and the theology of hope, composed partly because the subject fascinates me and partly as an excuse to read as much utopian literature, fact and fiction, as I could get my hands on.

At Cambridge, there was a wee group of us known amongst ourselves as the bunnies. I’m not exactly sure how this evolved, except perhaps out of the habits of my then roommate, who 1. loves bunnies, and 2. addresses everyone with this endearment. The bunnies were my close-knit fellowship in college. Perhaps if we’d pursued Footlights, The Bunnies could have been the next Monty Python. Anyhoo, this post is dedicated to them (the bunnies, not Monty Python).

But, what does this all have to do with the corporate world? I hear you wonder. Well, that’s where I left idealistic Cambridge to go. I struck forth for The City, the big-smoke, the bigger pay-packet, the twinkling lights, the buzzy brilliance. It’s known as selling out for a reason and the corporate world was not for me. However, while it’s not where I’m supposed to be, connecting with that world was an important and valuable step on my journey.

The same can be said for Hazel and his companions when they touch other warrens on their quest for Watership Down. Although Efrafa is a dystopic nightmare of a warren, with safety bought at the price of freedom, the rabbits met there by Bigwig and the lessons learned there are beyond valuable for the warren founded by the wanderers.

Fiver has a vision. It’s not just for somewhere where the grass is greener and not just for somewhere that isn’t under imminent risk of extermination. His is a dream of a better place – a safe, peaceful, just society, where it’s possible for someone like Hazel to be made Chief Rabbit. On the way, they encounter Cowslip’s warren. There is certainly peace and plenty here and nearly all of the band are seduced by it, but they discover that the cost is the risk of death and the disconnection from those who meet it.

Life at Ernst & Young hit its peak when I was sent to Edinburgh, seconded to Lloyds Banking Group to work for Scottish Widows. For me, this was a prettier place and I was happy, to a point. I even found myself thinking, I could be happy here, less stressed, I could stay. But there were still the snares of long hours and work I wasn’t passionate about, which could jump up and grab you at a moment’s notice. I’m not saying that EY is the corporate equivalent of Efrafa, by the way, I very much enjoyed my time there and learnt a lot. Some of the people I met there are among my best friends. And many thrive in the corporate world and love their work. Equally, however, I know many who feel lost and trapped. It wasn’t the warren for me, and in this post I’m writing for others who wish they could escape somehow and end up somewhere they love.

I’ve now found my Watership Down. I’m as far away from The City as you can get over here in New Zealand’s South Island. It’s not just the place, though, it’s what you do there. I’m building a business so that I can make a living doing something I love. It’s not been easy, but it’s been worth every hop of the journey to get here. I extend the warren of my work every day and I hope for others to follow their dreams too. So, I ask you this: Where is your Watership Down? And how are you going to get there?

Right Ink On The Wall – An Intro

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‘Nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything’ 

Euripides 

Who am I and what am I doing right now?

I’m Sara. I’m the founder and owner of a business called Right Ink On The Wall, which believes in making the right mark on the wall of the world and provides proofreading and copy editing services to authors and businesses with the right ideas.

I’m sitting on a mountain in New Zealand at gone 8 o’clock at night, near a fire and a DJ, having boarded for a few hours in the dark, listening to music and thinking about launching a blog to complement my business.

I’m a late adopter. It’s not that I’m purposefully slow or sheepishly follow the crowd once I’m sure it’s safe… But I’ve only just converted to Apple, have only recently acquired a Kindle, have only this year started reading blogs (never mind writing one myself)… And the idea of a touch screen phone upsets me on a deep and distressing level. I’m mostly distressed because I’m scared they’ll soon stop making buttoned phones altogether.

I’m a strong believer that a blog should have a purpose, even if the purpose is to motivate someone to write regularly and it’s about any old thing. This blog is going to be a bit about books, a bit about business, and a bit about making the world a better place. I’m not saying the blog itself will make the world a better place (though I hope so), but that it’s going to, sometimes subtly and sometimes overtly, be all about hope. Hope and happiness.

That’s why I want to write a blog – to talk about what I’m doing with my life and with my business, to talk about what I’m reading and what I’m writing, and to encourage and inspire people to have hope. I always hoped to do a snow season – I’m now in my second. I always hoped to have my own business – I now have one, doing something I love. I always hoped to travel and live abroad – I travelled until I ended up here, happily kipping in Queenstown, living the dream. I always hoped to write a book – watch this space.

One of the messages of these posts is that hope without action is futile. If we want to change something in our lives, or change everything about our lives, we have to do something about it. I spent a lot of time moaning about things and hoping that things would be better one day. It was a bit of an epiphany when I realised I could do anything I wanted to and that the only thing stopping me was myself.

I like the blogs that end on a question. My first question to you is: what do you hope for? And what are you going to do about it? I currently hope to be a better snowboarder… And I’m off to do some more runs.