My First Name

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is not my exclusive property, but over the course of six decades one gets used to being the only Jincy.   The name is apparently Southern in origin, and was at one time a nickname for both Virginia and Jane, which nickname never caught fire, and so faded from use.   I am the Last of My Kind, solitary and windswept, or so I thought, until tripping across

Dian Curtis Regan, a prolific author of children’s books, was born a few years after I was, growing up in the shadow of the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado.   She writes:

I would be remiss not to mention my “familiar,” the walrus. It all started with a story I wrote several decades ago about an outspoken walrus named Jincy. A few friends read the story and gave me stuffed walruses. After that, I started planting the word “walrus” in every book. Readers began writing to tell me where they’d spotted the word. Through the years, walruses have appeared beneath my Christmas tree, inside birthday gifts, collected as souvenirs on trips, and as gifts from schools. Sadly, I have yet to receive a walrus with red hair.

To date, I have over one hundred walruses in my office. Ironically, Jincy’s story has never been published, yet she and her exquisitely polished tusks have obviously brought me very good luck.

This is what happens when you fool around with Google for no damn good reason. It turns out that in an alternative universe, I am unpublished, with exquisitely polished tusks.   In this one, I prefer to remain solitary and windswept, but now I have these tusks, which I can’t stop imagining,  and the good fortune they bring, it seems, is not my own.

Are there any more of us, fictional or non?   What have we done or left undone?   Apparently there’s a herd.   Where  are you all?   Bring on the Jincys!

35 Comments My First Name

  1. Emile

    In addition to all your other fabulous qualities, you are now one of the few people on earth who can truthfully say, “I am the walrus.”

  2. Emily Gould

    Dear Jincy,

    Just thanks heavens you will never know the pain of having a truly common name. Mine has been #1 in America for the last I think 8 years. Every time I pass a playground someone calls my name — very confusing.

    Also I know this is an annoying way of going about this but I couldn’t find contact info anywhere and I wanted to ask if you’d want to write something (very brief!) for the Screens issue of the Times magazine. If you’re at all interested, or if you’d just like to let me down easy, please email me and I will tell you the details.

    Oh and no need to actually post this comment, if this is the type of thing where you approve them all.

  3. dian

    I am delighted to meet a ‘real person’ named Jincy. Next to my infamous walrus, you’re the only Jincy I know. I love your site, and methinks you’ve got a new fan.

    Btw, I grew up in Colorado Springs (home of NORAD), not Wyoming. Ah, we writers never stop editing!

    All best wishes from dian curtis regan

  4. Jennifer Niesslein

    My former boss had a girlfriend named Jincy. (I think it was short for Virginia.) In this alternative universe, you are still unpublished, no tusks, but Southern.

    If I can channel a little Mr. Rogers here, I’m glad you’re the published Jincy you are. The Writing Class just might be my favorite book ever.

  5. Jodi

    Dear Ms. Willett,

    Was that really YOU who blogged on Haven Kimmel’s site? If so, we are all a-twitter about it, including (and especially) Haven herself. We’re blogging about it still, and it might entertain you to take a look. I am transferring my original blog on Haven’s site to yours, in response to what you wrote.

    What a dichotomy you seem to be! Upon Haven’s recommendation, I picked up “The Writing Class” yesterday. Not knowing your work, I read the dustjacket (including your photo), then looked online for reviews and author information. I found your website, and thought, “This is one in-your-face sort of woman!” (”God, you people make me sick” is a line from your home page that sticks in my mind.)

    But when I read your blog, you seemed the very antithesis of all that – kind, thoughtful, generous. As you also are here on Haven’s blog.

    All that aside, I’m delighted with “The Writing Class.” Haven says it perfectly, “the new novel is utterly engaging and interesting and accurate.” From “The Fat Broad” opening on, you had me. How you blend mystery, comedy, and writing instruction is a wonder.

    In response to your statement, “Why anyone wants to know what an author looks like is a mystery to me”: when what someone says or writes resonates with me, I want to know that person better. Especially when what resonates is humor. Had your writing and humor left me cold, I’d have dropped your book back in the library night deposit without another thought.

    In the same way that a book’s cover informs me of its contents, the font and the weight of the paper and how the edges of the pages are finished, the photo tells me about the author. From not knowing a thing about you 24 hours ago and now blogging a response to you directly, I’m not yet matching up your photo with your sardonic wit and savvy writing. But that’s okay with me. The Writing Class and I will be together on my deck this afternoon getting to know each other, and that’s what really counts.


    Jodi Smith

  6. Jincy

    Jodi, yes, it’s really me. (Shades of “The Best of Betty”….) Your “dichotomy” observation is interesting, and on-point, I think. What fiction writers do, basically, is make stuff up. Part of that entails assuming different personalities–inhabiting (or trying to) persona after persona. If you can’t do that, your characters won’t round out.

    The minute you put yourself out there–in the case of a writer, the minute you’re published–you become, in addition to the “real you” (whatever that is), a fictional character. It’s unavoidable, so why not, as that ugly old joke goes, enjoy it?

    Anyway, great to hear from you, Jodi.

  7. Jodi

    Thank you for a lovely weekend, Ms. Willett. I’ve just finished “The Writing Class,” and you tied it all up with a beautiful bow, which is certainly saying something, because you had lots to tie up. I learned about writing from Amy, smiled at the wisdom and laughed out loud at the humor. One of my favorite observations, made by Amy, is “In order to be humorous, you had to have perspective, to be able to stand outside yourself and your own needs and grudges and fears and see yourself for the puny ludicrous creature you really are.”

    How much feedback do you get once you publish your work? More or less than you’d expected or hoped for? Positive? Negative? Snipers?? Do you find that your readers “get it”?

    I appreciate your gracious answer to my question about author photos.

    I’ll be reading your prior publications and looking forward to more of your work in the future.


    Jodi Smith

  8. Gary Craig

    Let me also add my voice to the chorus of lovers of “The Writing Class.” I’ll admit, these days I read mostly nonfiction (which perhaps makes me stodgy). Like Ricky, I’m a reporter, though a good deal older and I haven’t had a buzz cut since I was 3. I picked up “The Writing Class” at the library while waiting for a new book about Leopold and Loeb that has yet to arrive on hold. (Okay, I’ll buy the next book, but, as I said, I’m a reporter. I’m just happy to be employed.)What a wonderfully entertaining read. Thanks for reminding me how much fun a well-written light-hearted yet edgy novel can be. (I was on a Peter De Vries kick many many years ago — again showing my age — and your books may be my new kick.)Thanks again.

  9. Jincy

    Thanks, Gary! I’m pleased to find another Peter DeVries fan–what a writer! My favorite was the one about Joe Sandwich. I also admired how he circled around and around the “dead child” in his books, before finally tackling it head on; I remember Blood of the Lamb as though having just read it yesterday–that image of Christ and the custard pie. Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure DeVries contributed to my own world view as a writer.

    And let me know how that Leopold & Loeb book works out. I haven’t read anything on that subject since Compulsion, and that was a long time ago. What more is there to say? Do tell!

    (and I’m glad to hear you’re still employed)

  10. Andrea Goss

    Hi, Jincy!

    My mom used to go on vacation to Nashville each year with 2 of her galpals for fun, relaxation and shenanigans. Their names are Jane, Virginia and Nancy – and they called themselves “Jincy” back in the day. “Jincy is going dancing! Jincy is going to paint the town! Jincy laughed all the way home from vacation!” Together, “Jincy” created many great memories – women who worked hard, loved their families, and were smart enough to know that getting away with the girls once a year was good medicine. Mom loves that a funny, quirky writer shares the name she and her friends “created.”

    By the way, I love your work – could I have your contact information (literary agent or publicist) to inquire about speaking engagements, your upcoming classes, etc.?



  11. Edith Fishler

    Possible error in “The Writing Class” on p. 69. “Carla looked at her confused as THOUGHT she couldn’t see….” Should be as THOUGH she couldn’t see” I am a serious mystery reader & really enjoyed the book.

  12. Jincy

    Thanks, Edith. There are actually quite a few of these, and they’ll be corrected in future printings. The publication process has changed greatly over the years: on the minus side, copy isn’t edited and proofed as carefully as it once was; on the positive, printings are small and corrections easily slipped in to the next batch.

  13. Haley W.

    I’m not a Jincy — I’m a Haley — but, I do know a Jincy. One of the few, and apparently she quite shares Dian’s familiar. Jincy, my childhood friend, is quite red headed. We are both from Georgia, and Jincy is an old name in her family.

    So, now you’ve another out there who’s got it as her given name.

  14. Cheryl

    Dear Jincy,
    I am extremely proud to say that I discovered you myself. (Usually books are recommended to me by my aunt or my children’s pediatrician, both avid readers, but I discovered you before they did, and that is my claim to fame.) I so enjoyed “Winner” that I recommended it to everyone I knew, then read “Jenny” while waiting patiently for the next book to come out. Last summer I decided to check on Amazon to see if you had written anything more, and there it was! I ordered “The Writing Class” and devoured it. I wrote a review on my blog and concluded that post with this statement: “Jincy Willett is amazing! I only wish she were more prolific. On the other hand, I would not want to rush her. She is a writer who clearly knows what she’s doing. I stand in awe.” And I do.
    I see you as a cross between my ultra-witty, ultra-literate aunt and myself, an aspiring writer.
    About wondering what a writer looks like, I must confess that when I read “Winner” I kept closing the book to look at your picture. I was so amazed by your insights, your humor, your writing…I guess I wanted to confirm that you were/are a real person.
    And for the record, I’ve never known anyone named Jincy.

  15. Ali

    Hello Jincy,

    I have just finished “The Writing Class” and I just have a quick question I was hoping you could clarify something for me (I could be completely wrong here, if so please forgive my mistake).

    On page 179, Amy is at Syl’s house trying to figure out how the Sniper hacked into Amy’s email. Syl guessed that her password was “Alphonse” and that he knew about her dog from the first class when Carla was asking about him. But Carla did not attend the first class? From that point on I was sure that Syl was involved. I guess my question is, was this just an oversight (as you mentioned in response to an earlier post) or is there something more to this?

    Thanks, and I can’t wait to read more from you…I couldn’t put this book down and really enjoy your sense of humor. 🙂

  16. Jincy

    Hello-a live, in person, Jincy here. I was named for my great grandmother who died from the Spanish influenza when my grandmother was 13. I am “borned and raised” in Georgia and live 3 miles down the road from where my great grandmother is buried. There is also a Jensi in the same county, but of no relation and 10 years younger. I have seen a very old grave in the woods behind a local church where there is a couple and their young son. The wife’s name is Jincey and the son is named (not joking) Pansey.

    Also, there was a book published by a deceased local author, Celestine Sibley, intitled- Jincey. It is about a young girl growing up in the south.

    I am a dental hygienist, mother of 3. My brother, however, is starting his 21st year as a high school English teacher and theater director. It’s my only writing connection but I do love reading.

    Growing up, the worst thing about my name was never being able to find pencils or notepads with my name on them in the store. I cherished the red pencils with gold lettering that were custom ordered for me by my best friend for my 10th birthday. It’s the small things!

    From one Jincy to another Jincy.

  17. Jincy

    Thanks for the information, Jincy! And how amazing it is finally to address somebody else by this name. I have forwarded this info to my parents, who are always interested in Jincy lore. It’s nice to know one is Not Alone.

  18. Jincy

    The name JINCY s quite common in Kerala,India.My native is Kerala and i have heard from my mom that JINCY is a very common name among the christian community and Jews in kerala.I personally know many people whose first name is Jincy.

  19. Jincy (from CA)

    I just thought I would chime in on the Jincy thing. To GA Jincy, I feel your pain, sister, regarding the psyche-damaging lack of personalized items during our formative years. As if it was tough enough having such an unusual name, I could not even be “cool” with my very own pencil and notebook set. I was named after my great, great grandmother, Jincy Ann Touchstone Pace who is buried in Mississippi. No funny named son (unless you count Dempsey). I met another Jincy years ago here in CA and we discovered we were named after the same person. So, as a result of the name, I met a relative. Kind of cool. I think we might be able to form a fan club…or a support group, which ever is more beneficial.

  20. Reba

    My great grandmother name was Jincy Lee Scott from Va.I have a granddaughter named Jincey and a great niece named Jincey both were named after their great great grandmother my daughter and niece fell in love with the name.We call them big Jincey and Little Jincey they love it.

  21. Jincy Willett

    I’m not surprised that the U.S. Jincys are from the southern states. I was named for an ancestor who lived in southern Indiana, and when I was a kid I saw the name Jincy on page 2 (or thereabouts) of Gone With the Wind.

    Perhaps we should design some secret handshake…

  22. Jincy (from Indiana)

    I am a Jincy!! I wish I knew what it meant… I was just named after my aunt…”Jincy Diane.” She was born in Kentucky and named after the person who helped deliver her. Other than that.. I have no cool story for when people ask, “How did your parents come up with that name?!”

    AND – I too missed having a Jincy pencil/Christmas ornament in the midst of my long line of friends named Sarah.

  23. Richard F. Johnston

    HI, my GGG grandmother was named Jincey Homma. A Choctaw Indian who came over the Trail of Tears from Mississippi in 1831 as a child. I’m a writer now retired, living in Marietta Ga.

  24. Jincy

    I’m a Jincy too who also was named after grandma and she after her grandma back 14 generations. I live in California. I also enjoyed a unique name but really wonder what the name means and I would love to meet more people with my name.

  25. Jincy Moore

    I was named after my great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother and have always been told it’s a Southern name. But that’s all I know. I grew up hating that I was the only Jincy and how I had to repeat myself whenever anyone asked what my name was. But now that I’m older, I like how unique it is. It matches my personality. My parents paired with with Mae for my middle name. Jincy Mae. It is fun and old-fashioned. 🙂

  26. Jincy

    Hello. 🙂 My first name is Jincy as well. It is a pretty common name in my culture. I live in Georgia and I am South Indian, from the state of Kerala. I’ve been told that the name, Jincy, is a common Keralite name, especially in the Christian community. All my life, I’ve gotten nothing but positive remarks about my name (unique, pretty, cute, the list goes on) as well as those who are just as curious as I am to know the meaning of my name. Hope this helps. Nice to meet you. 🙂

  27. jincy mehta

    FOR the longest time i thought i was the only jincy. same spelling and everything. my mom’s sister found it in an old newspaper in an old house of a woman who just was married. that was 35 yrs. ago lol

  28. jincy mehta

    i forgot to mention i’m from south georgia and i married a man from gujarat india. i have heard it is southern and indian so it’s a neat coincidence.

  29. Jincy Willett

    Thanks to all the Jincys. I did become aware at some point that Jincy was a fairly common Indian name. The Jincy for which I was named lived in southern Indiana, just over the bordern from KY; she was my great-grandmother’s mother-in-law and apparently a rather odd person. Coincidentally, when my parents were casting about for a name and considering “Jincy,” they also learned that there was an unrelated Jincy on the deed to the house in which they were staying, so that did it. Anyway, we’re carrying on a tradition (a rather secret one, but that’s okay too).

  30. becky pace

    Hi. This is for jincy from ca. I don’t know if she will see this but apparently we are related. My sister is named beth jincy after my great grandmother jincy ann touchstone pace. Just happened to google her name and i found this. Thanks google!

  31. Angela Wright

    We just named our daughter Jincy Rose and recieve constant compliments on her name!!! Hope one day she can read about all the other great Jincy’s out there! But I truly hope it stays a rare name in America 🙂

  32. JINCY

    I used to hate my name cuz datz a very common name in ma country(India) .. But I feel very proud now after reading all the above messages .. JINCY !! 🙂 ..

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