Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Naming a book

 I have a pretty hard time with titles. I know not everyone cares about this. So it won’t offend me if you go  away. But I suspect everyone faces a time when they need to name something or other whether it is a pet or a weekend seminar. Getting something that people identify with, that draws them in, doesn’t embarrass you and is still artistic? Good luck, Margie.

My work today is deciding a title for a new book, a collection of Notes From Toad Hall a publication I’ve been writing for almost forever. A few days ago, I began with some suggestions from my editor and a working title Real Life at Toad Hall. But decided the book doesn’t represent “Real” life at Toad Hall. It’s only a few snapshots of life picked out of a myriad.

Next I tried Stumbling Toward Grace: A Collection of Notes From Toad Hall. A friend asked, really? Do we stumble toward grace or is it that God pursues us with grace. Well, yes. That’s true. Plus it seemed long and cumbersome.

Trying to generalize a collection could even bore the author’s mother. As in  Notes From Toad Hall: A Collection. Another problem that friend pointed out is that with a collection if you try too hard to enfold or capture all the content into one title it becomes artificial and you end up with something formal and stiff. Or boring. Brilliant. I’d never thought of it that way.

So how do you capture a theme with so many different storylines and events? Basically you don’t. Better to concentrate on something more specific. We know most people respond in concrete ways to concrete images. So as we looked through the chapters we hoped that something would emerge, something that would evoke, not only an interesting image, but could, in a multi-layered way, represent more than just that chapter.

The introduction then popped because of an image used there. But the next temptation was getting too clever. Clever in your own mind anyway. I came up with Bobblehead Jesus is Watching You: A Collection of Notes From Toad Hall. First of all it seemed way too long, then it seemed too quirky, like I was trying too hard to be funny. It is also one-layered and obscure.

So I went back to an image that stood out from the introduction, thanks to that same genius friend – that of God being in the sink with us. It had potential. If we think of life as a sink – it really is true that God is in there with us whether the sink is full of sudsy warm water or a pile of greasy, dirty dishes. We’ve all lived on both sides of that equation. Sorry, if that was insultingly obvious.

So this is where we’ve landed God in the Sink: Essays From Toad Hall.  In the meantime, while I dwaddled with this post, the editor decided for sure. This will be the title of my next book which will be out in November if all goes well. I’m excited about this.

Thanks for stopping by.

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