Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Serious Gray

My office is gradually becoming this color ...  Serious Gray by Sherwin Williams. I think it should be called something else. Perhaps just for today. Quietly Happy. Or Unexpected Grey.

"Serious Gray"
 My day began with a random surprise. After I dropped my sister-in-law off at the airport it was 5:50 A.M. and I pulled through Starbucks drive-up for a latte. When I reached the window the barista told me the person ahead of me had paid for my coffee and said I should have a good day. A random act of kindness. All day long I've tasted that sweet moment - it has made me feel like I sit under a rainbow or something.

Random kindness
Today I'm doing a final proof of the manuscript God in the Sink. I could spend hours hunched over the pages and the computer. So to keep myself from getting permanently crooked I decided to set the timer. 45 minutes at the computer and 45 minutes painting my office.  I'm almost done with the manuscript, about 1/4 of the office is painted and there are still some hours left in the day. It's been a good plan for this day.

So far the funniest mistake I found was a sentence that mentioned how Minnesotans often end sentences with a preposition, like "Do you wanna go with?" Instead of preposition I had written proposition. Can't remember the last time I was propositioned. Oh, well.

During the last painting slot I listened to an interview with John Stott. I think the best quote out of it was:
"I've learnt very early on that Christianity is not a religion and it is not an institution, it is a person. It was enormously helpful for me to discover that Christianity is Christ and and that what matters is a personal relationship to Christ..... It's all Christ, Christ, Christ, Christ. Knowing Him, loving Him, serving Him, trusting Him, gaining Him. 'To me to live is Christ', Paul said, and I think, I hope without boasting I can say the same, it is a Person."

I almost chose "Gibralter" a shade of darkened stone. But maybe that would've been appropriate, too. Christ, our Rock.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope some time, some day a stranger gives you a coffee, too.

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.