Thursday, July 5, 2007

Land of Enchantment--Vanity Plates

Vanity plates are a kind of working class poetry—articulated in seven letters or less. Maybe the car you’re driving isn’t enough of a statement. Perhaps you’re a Corvette driver trapped in a mini-van. Though sometimes vanity plates are repetitive, like the people who put VETTE on their Corvette or PTCRUSR on their—you get the idea.

Being a writer, I like vanity plates. Given the brevity imposed, it’s an opportunity for succinct wit, the distillation of substance to its essence, the delivery of a joke understood by a fraction of viewers. It’s a way of connecting with kindred spirits and excluding the boors. It requires the participation of the guy in the SUV riding your butt—and he probably won’t get it.

I’m ambivalent about people who put their jobs on their license plates. It’s okay if it’s because your work is your passion and not because you have no life outside of work. I often see tags like RNSUSIE or BONEDOC or TEACHR. I’ve never seen ACCNTNT or MRTICIAN or DTCHDGR or DGCTCHR. I’d like to see SAILOR or KNITNUT or JAZZMAN or DOGLVR or CELLIST (but would a cellist have a vanity plate?)

My first opportunity to put a message on my rear end was via a stock plate chosen for me by the anonymous folks in the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and delivered by mail. I pulled out the blue and white plates and said, “No. I can’t put these plates on my car.” The inscription? ANL5454. Although I knew several people who fit that description, I knew it didn’t apply to me.

It turned out that the BMV had a list of forbidden letter combinations (ARS, FUC, HEL) but ANL was deemed acceptable. In fact, the BMV had sent out a memo specifically requiring local clerks to charge a fee for replacing ANL plates. My husband said it was FUTL, and it was kind of a HASL, but I was able to get it changed. For a FKN fee.

So recently my license was up for renewal, and the renewal notice included a link to a Website where I could check on the availability of “personalized” license plates. Hmmm, I thought. If I could choose, what message would I send about myself? My passion is writing—I write YA fantasy novels. So I got online and tried a variety of possibilities (seven letter or less).

The following were already taken. Apparently there are lots of wizards, writers, and book lovers in Ohio.
WRITER1 through WRITER4 (dibs on WRITER5!)
SCI FI through SCI FI2 (SCI FI 3 was available)
BOOKS (BOOKS1 and up were available)
GODDESS (oh, why not?)

The following were available:
WRDWMN (more mature)
WITCHRY (could be dangerous on the road)
BOOKMKR (and get stopped by the police)

Here I am with my final choice. I wanted something that would apply to all the writing I do. All writers, whether we write fantasy or not, are enchanters. We collaborate with readers to create the dream of fiction.


John Elder Robison said...

At our automobile business, we've had visits from TEACHR (BMW) and CELLIST (Land Rover)

We've had many strange plates over the years.

We've also had 0, 1, 2, 5, 10, 666, and 999 visit.

Camille said...

Oh that is PERFECT for a writer and for a writer of fantasy!