I Need a Hat – And Your Suggestions!

When I was working on my MFA degree, my poetry mentor, Brian Barker, used to say that titles are like little hats that poems wear – they tell you a little about the poem without revealing too much. But they should match the personality of the poem, so to speak. Well, I need a hat for my memoir.

I am ALMOST done first drafting . . . it’s kinda sad to think that I’m only almost done with the FIRST draft when technically I’ve been working on this thing for 3 years. But I’ve really only worked REGULARLY on it for about 10 months, plus my life is already pretty hectic. It’s rough finding the time and sanity to write when you’re working full time and parenting 2 kids. Anyway, I have a goal to be done with the first draft by June 1st, and I think I’m gonna make it!!! P.F. Chang’s thinks so, too, based on the fortune they gave me yesterday:

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Anyway, I have adjusted my outline a bit and now have four sections: Believing, Questioning, Becoming, and Looking Back (that last section may have a title change yet), with each section having 13,000 – 18,000 words. The sections are (roughly) divided into chapters. I have already finished the first section, Believing, and am working through the second section by adding a little new material and revising a little.

But here’s the thing: I need a title. The best title I’ve come up with is (TA-DA!) “Conversion.” I know. BORRRRR-ING. Seriously. I’m a writer. Can’t I come up with something better than that?

No. I can’t. Seriously. The muses have failed me here. “Metamorphosis” is too cheesy, “Journey” is too common, and “Why The Hell Did You Leave The Nazarene Church?” is too crazy. And it has the word Hell in it. This is where YOU come in! My story is about a Nazarene missionary kid – turned Orthodox Christian. That’s it in a nutshell. I know, that sounds a little – yawn – boring, too, but I promise (I hope) it’s not. When are you going to get Buddhist monks, treacherous trips up mountains, outhouses, Coke in Sunday School (the soft drink kind, of course), and Orthodox liturgy all in one book? And what would you name that book??? I promise that whoever comes up with the name I end up using will get a thank you in the acknowledgments if the book ever gets published. Okay, peeps! Give my book a hat!

17 comments

  1. Bertie DeWane says:

    I don’t have a “hat” for your book, but I’m very interested in reading about your journey. My bet is on Susan Cushman to come up with a great title!

    • kksorrell says:

      I like both of those. But there’s already a book called Facing East by Frederica Mathewes-Green about her conversion experience, so it’s a little close to that. :)

  2. Margie says:

    I cannot wait to read your book! I’m also looking forwar to reading the title suggestions, what a good idea! I am thinking: “Holding Hands with the Nazarene” “

    • kksorrell says:

      Thanks, Margie! I don’t know if Nazarenes would say I’m still holding hands with them :), but I still look fondly on the Nazarene church.

      • Margie says:

        I had hoped to distinguish between the Nazarene church and THE Nazarene, Christ, as in: Can anything good come from Nazareth? As asked by Nathaniel and the answer is “Come and See” — hey, maybe that’s a good title!?! I know there is already “Taste and See” :) I like Susan’s advice, too, I think you’ll end up with a great title!

  3. I’m laughing that Bertie said I’d come up with a name… and I’m actually intrigued. My memoir (which I’m not going to publish) of the church that started in our apartment in 1970, eventually becoming Orthodox and then my transition from radical to moderate was titled, “Jesus Freaks, Belly Dancers and Nuns.” If your market is Christian, you could use something to connect the dots, like “Holiness: From Nazarene to Orthodox” (boring?) but if you are writing for the general market, you need to find something with a secular hook. Since I don’t know the “bullets” in your outline, I can’t really suggest a title. If you seriously want my help, send me the outline or at least the chapter titles. A catchy title will help you get an agent. Think Joshilyn Jackson’s first novel, gods in Alabama (and read her first line). Or Anne Lamott’s memoir, “Grace, Eventually.” Or Mary Karr’s memoirs: The Liar’s Club, Cherry, and Sinners Welcome. Or cross over into Christian writing and check out Barbara Brown Taylor’s titles: “Leaving Church,” and “An Altar in the World.”

    • kksorrell says:

      I guess I haven’t thought too much about what market I’m aiming for . . sign of a novice writer! Probably the Christian market, although I wonder if I publish in that market if I could ever get out of it if I wanted to. There’s just too much “church stuff” to engage the secular reader I think. Thanks for these ideas!

  4. Margie says:

    Susan Cushman is full of good ideas! I like the titles she lists and I also like the CS Lewis titles “All My Road Before Me” and there is a book “Stripping of the Altars” and Oswald Chambers wrote one called “Baffled to Fight Better”. I like Scott Cairns “Short Trip to the Edge” How about: ‘Thailand to Tennessee, Moving West on my journey to Eastern Orthodoxy.’
    Let me know if I get to be “too much”! :)

    • kksorrell says:

      You are never too much! I like those a lot – they are all catchy. I loved “Short Trip to the Edge”, although thought his trip was very long!! Good ideas!

      • Margie says:

        Some title using parts of “Buddhist monks, treacherous trips up mountains, outhouses, Coke in Sunday School (the soft drink kind, of course), and Orthodox liturgy”

        may make the hat “fit” or as a subtitle?

        Phrases I like that come to find are “living in the eternal now”
        “both and instead of either or”

        the arena, unseen warfare (I know that both are books, but they are common themes in Orthodoxy)

        The term “counter cultural” as a good way for a church to be.

        • kksorrell says:

          I like “Living in the Eternal Now!” and “Both . . . And” is a big thing I remember learning about when we first became Orthodox. Both faith and works, both scripture and tradition, both physical and spiritual. Thanks!

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