(This is the seventh article in a series by Stories To Tell editor/designer Sarah Hoggatt recounting her experiences in publishing her poetry and nonfiction.)
Just about all my book titles have two things in common: there was another “working title” before it and I came up with the final title while in my bed. So often they come to me in the night and even now, I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s the lack of outer stimulation when my mind is finally quiet enough that the right words have the space to come into my conscious awareness. Whatever it is, it’s developed into a rather mystical habit.
This book has been without a title of any kind thus far. Two or three months ago, there was a title I’d thought of (not in my bed) that I bounced off my editors and a close friend. None of them liked it. Frankly, I was disappointed as I thought it was a good title but I decided to listen to the people I trust and wait for the right title to come along. Then, last night as I was praying beside my bed and talking to God about what I had been learning at a workshop this weekend, the title appeared in my head. There is no other way to explain it – it was just suddenly there and it clicked: Finding Love’s Way. The words encapsulate so much of what I’ve been learning while writing this book and it’s a title I feel I can flesh out with the words inside. The book and title seem to belong together
When considering a title, I always go on Amazon first and search for it so I know what kinds of books have the same or a similar title. Not a lot came up relating to Finding Love’s Way and certainly no direct matches. I also Googled the title and the only match was an event in California advertised on Facebook that took place last week. I took this as a great sign.
My next step was to ask my editors what they thought and this is what I received back: “I really like that title!” and “Love it! Beautiful wording!” I’ll be asking my close friend about it, too, when I get a chance.
Finding Love’s Way has been, and continues to be, an incredible journey of discovery and growth. Through all the angst and joy in every line of every poem I’m learning what it means to love with no limits and no expectations. It’s a book with a message, even more so than the first three were. It’s a book full of questions and the answer doesn’t come until the end where everything is thrown up into the air and the one truth remains: to learn to love yourself and God unconditionally and to then love others unconditionally: this is the truest, most real, and the greatest beauty ever known.
There is a deep part of me now at peace. With this title. I not only have a book, but I have a purpose as well. I’d had the sense while writing the book that the theme, the story, would become apparent as it came together and I’d find it at some point, hopefully, before publication. And now that I have, I can go back to all I’ve written and refine it, polish it up with its part of the story in mind. I feel like the book has just burst open and a whole new level of enthusiasm has ignited my writer’s and publisher’s heart. I’m now excited to write the last parts and to bring it all together.
One of the things I’ve learned through this process is I oughtn’t be afraid to wait for the right title to come along. Like naming a child, the title is going to be around for a very long time so I want to make sure it suits the material well. However, even now, I don’t know if this is the final title. This could, in the end, turn out to be the working title. I may yet come up with an even better title as the book comes together and I get to know the overarching story. Time will tell.
It will be exciting to see how things come together in the coming months!