Why Only L: My Mysterious First Initial

Recently, I received this reply to a comment I made on Truth of Cake from Rian, the author:

“Begin with confidence instead of an apology. If you apologize, then people are going to look for what you did wrong.” This is great advice and spot-on. Thanks, L!

At first I thought L was some shorthand or internet slang that I haven’t learned yet.  Then, I realized she was addressing me, which is a very nice, personable thing to do.  By the way, if you haven’t gone to her blog, you should.  Everything she does is nice and personable.

Then, I received the following reply from a comment on marysomnibus: Thanks for visiting L (Laurie, Laura, Leanne?)

I didn’t realize that just using my first initial had such mystery and mystique.  In my mind, my writer name is L. Palmer – both words as one.  L. isn’t a name I’d think to answer to.  Having worked at summer camp for ten years, I answer to the nickname of George.  I also answer to my real first name, which we’re getting to.  I’ve only actively used L. Palmer as a moniker for about three weeks.

The main purpose of this blog is to begin building an online presence, and get to know people through social media.  If everything goes well, when I actually am professionally published more people than just my mom will read my book.  When I publish, I want to use L. Palmer as my name.  There are two reasons why:

1. In high school, my drama teacher made this comment in passing: “L. Palmer.  That sounds like a writer’s name.”

2. Although I like my full name, apparently David Lynch likes it too.  That’s why he created the early 90’s television show Twin Peaks, which is about finding the person who murdered Laura Palmer.

And that’s my name.

Laura Palmer.

It’s a great name, and my parents chose well, before the show was created.  So, no, I was not named after the character.

But, apparently I was murdered when I was sixteen and prom queen, and then as they explored my death, deep, eerie, and dark secrets arose, tarnishing my reputation.  I will not go into the details of Twin Peaks, because the show, while having a cult following, is not Good, Wholesome, and Fun.

Inevitably, when I use my full name, someone mentions Twin Peaks.  Here are some notable occurences:

– While picking up my letterman patch for good academics at the high school office, a random man passing by said, “You’re Laura Palmer?  Have you heard of Twin Peaks?  I love that show!”  To him, I replied, “Yes.  I am dead and a zombie, and passing myself off as a student at this high school.”

Although, that sounds more like a Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode.

– While purchasing a gift at Hot Topics, I used my credit card and the tattooed, nose-ringed, pink and black-haired cashier said, “Have you heard of Twin Peaks?”  Why yes.  Yes, I have.

I should note that many tattooed, nose-ringed, pink and black-haired people are awesome, they also tend to like twisted and dark shows like Twin Peaks, and enjoy Hot Topic.

– While attending college, every day of a Intro to Shakespeare class as the professor called roll: “Laura Palmer.  Have you heard of Twin Peaks?”  The other students caught on, and we all thought it very funny.  A very good professor, by the way.  I took one or two other classes with him because I enjoyed the class.  He didn’t do this in the other classes.

– While visiting family in the state of Washington, a few miles from the actual city of Twin Peaks, one of my cousins said she enjoys telling people from the area that she knows Laura Palmer.  I was eight and didn’t entirely understand.

– While attending the Experimental Cinema class for my film major, the teacher complemented the Avaunt Gard connection to my name.

– In high school, a good friend of mine in the Drama program randomly found in a box in her garage The Diary of Laura Palmer.  She gave it to me, and I later used it as an art project for my art class.  In flipping through the book, I discovered Twin Peaks is too dark for my taste.  That is probably my favorite occurrence.

This is not my portrait on the cover.

There have been numerous similar moments in my life.  As time passes on, I hear the connection less and less.  I suppose it’s waning as other cult shows fill its place in popular culture.  However, I do use it to help people remember my name.  All I have to say is: “Have you heard about Twin Peaks?  It’s about finding the person who murdered Laura Palmer.  I’m Laura Palmer.”

While writing this, however, it occurred to me there is a character named L. from a manga/anime series called Death Note.  L. is a wunderkind who investigates a series of random deaths and discovers they are murders.  While this show is good, it is not wholesome fun.

Odd that my name is attached to two surreal, macabre pieces of fiction.  Should I be concerned?  I do not live a macabre sort of life.

Still, I’ll stick with L. Palmer.  It sounds respectable, professional, and when it is looked up in an internet search, people don’t have to wade through a myriad of links to Twin Peaks related content.

I’m sure though, there are many others who have famous associations with their name.

I want to close by thanking Rian and Mary again for their nice and personable replies.  It’s people like you that make the blogosphere a friendly, hospitable place.

UPDATE: In an e-mail, Mary, from above, also mentioned Laura, the film and book about the murder of a person named…  Laura.  Why so much murder surrounding my name?

Although, she also pointed out Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House On The Prairie.  That’s a much more positive reference.

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19 thoughts on “Why Only L: My Mysterious First Initial

  1. This is all very interesting, L. (And yes, I did that on purpose!) I wish I had such an unusual association with my name, though I’m sure hearing the Twin Peaks references got old very fast.
    I also chose to go by my initials when writing, hence my username of J.M.Staaf. Not for any very exciting reason, though. Just because I consider my name too awkward and boring (it’s Jessica), and because I’d like to hold on to a little bit of privacy. There is also a talented famous painter who shares my name, but even in a google search she only comes up twice.

    • There is J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan, of course.
      As for using first initials, it also makes me feel more professional. In my off-line life, my name is just my name. By doing this online, I feel more official, and that I actually know what I’m doing.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I so want to address you as Laura! But, L, I understand the whole name thing. I had a grade five teacher who used to sin, “Lay Down, Sally,” which at once creeped me out and also put me off Eric Clapton for years! By the way, I’m a Truth and Cake fan too!

    • 1. Yes, I do really like Truth and Cake
      2. I probably should clarify I don’t mind people using Laura. As mentioned above, I’m using L. Palmer as a ‘writerly’ name.” I use my full first name every day in my offline world.
      So, here, to anyone commenting on this post: permission to call me Laura if you want.
      3. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment.
      4. I’m sorry your fifth grade teacher creeped you out. I often get “Tura Lura Lura,” an Irish song, sung at me. I understand.

  3. And, of course, there is the famous J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter series. Perhaps you should consider introducing a second initial, Laura!

    Even though I´ve heard of Twin Peaks, I´ve never seen it, so the name Laura Palmer has no other association for me, except for you. What a lovely name. :)

    Happy writing.

    Edited with permission from commenter – LP

  4. I think Laura Palmer is a cool name for an author. When you are a famous writer, I will remember this post as my first encounter with you as you travelled the road to become a successful writer.

  5. I like L. Palmer. It has a nice ring to it. I totally get why you wouldn’t want to use Laura Palmer. Those references will be forever linked. My name, Kat Collins, isn’t my actual name either. The last name is my maiden name and the first name is a nickname I’ve always wanted, but no one ever bestowed upon me. So I chose to do it myself. My first name is Karen. But considering there’s a country singer, lawyer, photographer, nutritionist, high school principal, and more with my full name, Karen Collins, I thought I’d go with the more original Kat Collins (only a student athlete at Dartmouth College pops up on a search for this one).

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  6. I can really relate to this as I also have a name from a 90s TV drama — my maiden name is Alison Parker. Melrose Place is not quite as cool as Twin Peaks though. Loving the blog, L.

    PS I like the sole initial moniker. Plus, it sounds like Elle, which is pretty nice too.

    • I didn’t realize the “L” and Elle homonym until the other day. I thought about changing it, but I’m liking one initial. Somehow, it creates more conversation.
      Glad to see you around.

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