What’s in a Name?

I have been doing mental somersaults for months, trying to decide on a name for my novel. The title I originally chose, the “working title,” just doesn’t suit the work. I’ve known this for a while, and both of my editors and my writing group members have said pretty much (or very much) the same thing. The current title just falls flat for me, when I think of the story, but I haven’t been able to come up with any other solid options.

It seems like it should be relatively easy. Not. I pick titles for my blog posts three times a week, and frankly I think I do a good job. Blog titles pop into my head every day. Some nights as I’m drifting off to sleep, titles pop into my head and help me decide what I’m going to write about. While most of the time the topic drives the title, some days the title is just waiting for the post. It’s pretty easy. Yet, I have been spinning this damned book title around and around for months… and months! I’ve tried things out on my writing posse, but nothing has made it’s way to the title page. It’s got me chasing my tale (yes, I spelled it that way on purpose) in crazy circles.

The clock is ticking!image: www.percederberg.com

The clock is ticking!
image: http://www.percederberg.com

Yesterday I spent several hours at a writer’s workshop, with several different topics and focuses. One of the authors talked about making your book a true priority—making your writing a true priority. Blogging has become such a big part of my writing world, but it definitely distracts me from moving forward with my novel, and I need to start being more mindful of that, and working on my book priorities… If I really want to be published. And I do. I really do.

In two days I turn 50. Man, when I turned 40 I was so determined to write a novel and get it published! But here I am a decade later and I’m still wishing and hoping and planning… I did write the book, but I need to take that next step. I do not want to see the next decade and still be stuck in this spot.

The title is critical. It’s a few words, linked together, that announce my work. People will notice my novel based on how well I string those words together, and that is feels huge. Blog titles are easy, but this has me totally stumped. I think of title that I think works, and then do some research and it’s already out there. Or, a title that sounds right on Monday, isn’t good by Friday. Something that I think might work, is a thumbs down with the people who have read the manuscript. It’s crazy making. And all of this title stuff feels like more delays in taking the next step for publishing.

Is that it? Am I making the title an unconscious barrier to publishing… and ultimately, avoiding finding out if my novel is good? Some days I feel like I might just toss the whole thing on a big bonfire, and just be done with it. Other days I’m so ready to grab the prize. Keeping my eye on the prize is a constant, personal challenge… convincing myself that I have something of value to put out there, convincing myself that I can do this, taking in the positive feedback I’ve gotten (and it has been mostly positive) and really embracing it… These are things that I don’t do easily. As many of you have noticed and commented on, I am quick to find my flaws, or create ones that no one else sees. I throw my self-doubts out there like they are facts, when they are more often mirages that only I see. Thank you friends (cyber and “real”) for that reminder, especially on some key posts, and on some harder days.

I do not believe in resolutions; they don’t work for me. I embrace intentions. I aspire to meet those. Some are easier than others; some are bigger and grander. I really hope to clean that office. I would like to work out more and get my knee back to a healthy place. I want to work on relationships that deserve my nurturing, and let go of ones that don’t. And I want to see my novel published, whether I self-publish or go the traditional route. These intentions are all biggies on some level, but that last one represents so many things for me. Back to picking a title… ’cause, it’s all in the name.

Are you a writer? Did you jump into publishing, or did anything hold you back? Was the title a tough thing, or easy. If you’re not a writer, what attracts you to a book?

Share your thoughts; share my post, and if you liked this post, tell me by hitting the Like button.




About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Aging, Blog, Can't sleep, Daily Observations, getting published, Life, Musings, My world, Personal change, Tales From the Motherland, Women, Women's issues, Wonderful Things, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to What’s in a Name?

  1. Happy Birthday! Titles are tough– it will come to you when you least expect it. TT came to me while I was riding my bike! good luck!


  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Titles can be tricky, especially trying to come up with one that hasn’t already been used. Even though I wrote my book over 8 years ago, luckily the title I chose was obscure enough that there were no other books out there with it And I’m pretty sure my current WIP is the same. No one wants a search for their title to generate 6 different books! But coming up with that as of yet unused title is hard. I wish you well with it.


  3. Join the 50 crowd. It is not so bad. You get AARP discounts!


  4. Adam S says:

    God this sounds like me. I feel ya. I really want to move forward, but this blogging thing seems to have an unhealthy grip on me as of late. It’s impossible to write the blog and a book at the same time.

    As far as a Title goes, man, that’s the most important thing you’ll write for your book. That’s my thinking, anyways. It has to be powerful. And it has to capture all of it in just a few words…
    …I’m afraid I’m of no use today. Ask me tomorrow!


    • Great minds… I believe you were commenting here as I was commenting there. If someone comments on someone else’s page, and they’re on that person’s page, does the comment make a sound? 😉

      Yes, the blog is one of the best and worst things that’s happened to me. I just spent an hour at the library, waiting for my son, and I got so much editing on the novel done… why don’t I do that more often? I’m blogging… or commenting… or reading… or…. I also thought, as I walked through the library: what a great place to find a title: looking at others and figuring out how mine could be better! “Shit or get off the pot” just leaves me more constipated.


      • Adam S says:

        Please, no more hypothetical questions. My brain is tender, still.

        P.S. I re-read our conversation on my page and I finally got it. It was way funnier the second time. Thought you were for real about the traintracks!

        Aye. Back to bed..


        • No wonder it’s tender… you need to step away from the blog! The hypotheticals is crazy enough, but according to this, you posted this comment at 3:45am your time! The blog world is crazyville sometimes. No more fiction, but I still maintain that my one finger could flip circles around some others. wink smile. Have a good day!


  5. haha! I’m laughing because I think you’re psyching yourself out. You’ve attached so much weight to the title and given it so much power. I also like your theory about using the title, or, lack of title, to sub-consciously hold yourself back. Once the book has a title, then what? You won’t be able to say you’re working on a book anymore. You’ll have this big piece of the Dawn pie free for new endeavors. Maybe something about that is unsettling? (Then again, maybe I’m full of rubbish!!!!! LOL!) If the book was a blog, no seriously, if it was a blog, what sorts of things would you come up with?

    The book will be brilliant even with a crap title. I promise you it will be. Stop giving it so much power.

    **This message was brought to you by your counseling friend who ONLY wants you to feel good.


    • Well thank you Dr. Grippy. Remember, I have a counseling degree too (don’t practice anymore) and fat lot of good it’s doing me! Of course you’re right, but I do dare say that you have paraphrased what I said anyway… just in shinier words. Damn, damn, damn! I refuse to feel good! :-p


      • The only reason I can get all psychy with you is because you speak the same babble. That’s why I was laughing! You already know your own reasons! Very funny, Dawn. You’ll figure it out, I have no doubt. Maybe it will come to you in a dream? 🙂 Or maybe it will arrive on your birthday, wrapped with a big beautiful bow! (Okay, now I’m being silly – but wouldn’t that be great?) tee hee


  6. I find the most intriguing titles , or beginning or ending of stories that I come up with are always hard to explain why I think them worthwhile. Somehow it just resonates with you, and you know you’ve got your golden fleece. (: Best of luck !



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