In search of a title

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What do you do when the very perfect title you'd picked out for your new book is—uncomfortably, sadly, a fact discovered late in the game—a title David Foster Wallace used for a short story a few years back?  What do you do when nothing else seems to fit?

You find a quiet place in which to think, for one thing.

And you call your son, a genius at titles, among other things, who, years ago, when a certain untitled book was a day away from final catalog copy, called out to you, from where he was writing,

But Mom, he said, isn't that book (a memoir about marriage to a Salvadoran man) about how there is still love in strange places?

Still Love in Strange Places?
you said. 

Yeah, he said.  Something like that.

Two minutes later you were on the phone with Alane Mason, your W.W. Norton editor.  We have a title, you told her.  She didn't skip a beat.  She agreed.

Late last night, you called your son.

I need another miracle, you said.

Give me a day or two, he told you.


Sarah Laurence said...

My writing crit. partner Charlotte Agell had the same problem even worse. Close to publication, they learned there was a second YA Shift coming out at the same time – hers was about a polar shift and the other was about biking. We brainstormed new titles, but she went with Shift, despite the confusion.

Your title sounds like a common saying so maybe it’s okay to use it twice. I enjoyed reading the lyrical excerpt below. Good luck!

Holly said...

ahhh! I always thought it was still love like still water.

Lilian Nattel said...

It'll come and I am looking forward to hearing it when it does.

holly cupala said...

I'm in the very same spot right now, Beth! Perhaps we could take your son out for dinner and put his titling skills to work?

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