Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: January 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Searching for the Title

(This is the seventh article in a series recounting my experiences in publishing my next book. You can find the rest under the "Publishing a Book Series" tag.)

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!

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Where's the Focus? - Publishing a Book Series

For this book thus far, I’ve been writing whatever comes to mind, whatever message has to get out at the time. I know the book is about love and there are a lot of water references in it (a theme my editors pointed out to me) but it was all mixed together with no conclusion. The words weren’t going anywhere. Something was still missing.
It was at this point I met with a friend, not about the book but to just talk about life and God – not that the two can, in truth, be separated.  Before we left, she told me this: “If you’re upset, lower your expectations.” At first I laughed because it sounds so funny and also because I had recently reread a favorite book of mine, The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz, who says the same exact thing, albeit in different words. The idea is to know there is unconditional love within yourself – all the love you need – and thus you don’t have requirements on the love of others. You then learn to love yourself and others unconditionally without expectations. It’s a beautiful and freeing way to live. And I’m still working on it. So when my friend shared this wisdom with me, it was a shock to my system to realize I had the focus for my book all along: learning to love unconditionally. That was the answer, that’s the conclusion. 

Nearly two weeks later, I found out Don Miguel Ruiz Jr., an author in his own right who is carrying on the Toltec wisdom writings his father began, was giving a workshop that very weekend an hour away from where I live. It was as if a huge sign was in front of my face proclaiming in blinking lights, “This is where you need to be.” I have found when God wants you to go somewhere, it’s really hard to ignore. But in this case, I didn’t need to be told twice. These books have made a huge difference in my life and I was enthusiastic to learn more.  The truths he spoke of were also ones I’ve really needed to hear lately and he spoke to precisely where I’ve been at. It was like water to my parched throat after months in the desert. I came away from that time with a lot of truths to think about and soak in along with new tools to use in living my life. I also came away with a much better handle on what my book is all about and where I want to take it at the end.
Every book needs a focus. Every book should be able to be summed up in a sentence or two. Find it, shape the book around it, and your writing will be far better for having a point. Unconditional love is my point.

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