I love my name.
My mother blessed me with not only a beautiful and unique name, but with a name taken straight from the cover of a book; I can think of no greater gift a bookworm of a mother can betroth to her writer-bookworm of a daughter.
And in case you were wondering, since I've heard it pronounced a myriad of ways, mine sounds like "Anna".
THE Shanna & Those Other Shannas
I've always had this wild, unrealistic dream of being the top Shanna on the web - as in, the Shanna that is the #1 result when you type "shanna" into Google's search bar.
I'm fully aware this isn't possible (thanks, Ms. Moakler), though I have daydreamed of at least showing up on the first page of search results. Hey, it could happen.
I was always keeping tabs on the high-ranking Shannas - wondering how they did it. Honestly, when I was bored, I'd surf on over to Google and search for "shanna" and see who was where and if anyone had moved (funny what amuses you when you're bored at work).
I got to know these Shannas, and watched with interest as they pin-balled up and down the search result ranks:
Bellydancing Shanna has been a top contender for years, usually trading back-and-forth spots with Country Singer Shanna and all of the other writing Shannas (yes, I'm not nearly the only one...in fact, most online Shannas are writers; perhaps the first time in my life I've been in a majority!) There's infamous Chick Lit Shanna (Ms. Swendson), as well as less known but often higher ranking Freelance-Writer Shanna and Published-Writer Shanna (Ms. Compton & Ms. Germain, respectively, who I am both highly respectful and insanely envious of). There's a Painter Shanna that's been there for awhile, and has pretty much taken up permanent residence on page 2.
Floating around in the first 5 pages (still a damn good place to be, imo) is, also, Photographer Shanna, Indie Rocker Shanna, Blogging Shanna, Artist Shanna, Bicycling Shanna, and Crafty Shanna. And let's not forget Dr. Shanna!
I'd say I 'm in pretty good company. Shannas seem to be, overall, pretty damn smart, creative ladies (the ones online, anyway). There are plenty of other Shannas online - other websites and quite a few social-networking profiles linked to a Shanna.
This Shanna's Story
So how are these Shannas - some that have been online not nearly as long as I - so high up in the Google ranks? How come I, who has been active online with a personal website since 1997, am nowhere near the high rank these newer Shannas have?
When I initially came online and started to establish a web presence, I made the mistake of not using my first name as my main identifier. My first Geocities and Yahoo! accounts (later combined) were as "vamp_lynx", and my first website was geocities.com/vamp_lynx. Though I said on the site that my name was Shanna, that wasn't enough to shoot me to the top of any search engine, much less even be noticed by them. My random, oft-changing website names rarely used my first name either - as most of my long-time fans will remember.
When I finally made the decision to purchase my own domain name, I wanted a unique identifier; something that would make me stand out online. I could've named my website, for example, "Slightly Off Kilter" and bought the according domain name (slightlyoffkilter.com). Yet, that was not unique. Someone searching for "kilter" wouldn't land on my site; even someone searching for "off kilter" probably wouldn't.
After much ardous inner debate, I decided upon the Greek word skatoulaki, which means "little shithead". It wasn't widely used online yet and was just unique enough to be a blanket identifier for all of my online work.
However, when I tried to use skatoulaki as my user name for some websites, it was sometimes taken. I then decided to change the spelling up a little (something I hardly ever do) to make it more unique and easier to spell; thus, skatoolaki was born.
The unique identifer paid off - any and everything listed online under "skatoolaki" is my work; of which I'm quite proud.
This was great for establishing a unique, online persona. It was not so great for establishing myself as a known Shanna on the web.
Though I later bought shannariley.com to house all of my writing, my fate appears to have been sealed. I have not, despite now having shanna-ish domain names (shannariley.com and even shanna.ws), been able to climb the Google ranks.
I suppose you can list me, then, as the Unknown Shanna ☺.
It is a sad truth, but we have lost the faculty of giving lovely names to things. Names are everything. I never quarrel with actions. My one quarrel is with words. The man who could call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one. It is the only thing he is fit for.
- Oscar Wilde.