There has been in a change in plan. Names, titles, monikers, distinguish us and set us apart, hinting at our origins and our affiliations. A title can cause symphonies to play, evoke textures and scents, and open a portal to whole worlds inside our heads. What images and emotions play back for you when you hear the titles “2001 Space Odyssey,” “Alice in Wonderland,” or “Lord of the Rings”?
Yes, those are world-building titles, but for even the shortest story, when an author works on a project, the title encapsulates characters, worlds, and an emotional sense of belonging. What happens when a treasured title must be cast out? Brain synapses crackle and neurons rebel! The project is lost in a sea of possibility like a ship with no mast. At least that’s what happened recently to me when research uncovered a children’s book by a very famous author (who shall remain unnamed). He published his book with an almost identical title, some years after I originally wrote my manuscript.
The need to change the title was very unsettling. It had personified the story in my mind–a project I awoke to every morning, either eager to engage or reluctant to look in the eye when tiny fits of procrastination snuck up on me. There was nothing to do but forge ahead and explore the story (a.k.a. the murky depths of my psyche) for the perfect words I needed to replace the erstwhile title.
At first, it seemed that nothing could compare with my original choice. But as I pushed ahead, I started making free associations and digging through etymologies (did you know that the word “tree” derives from earliest times and has similarly derived words in Old Germanic, Greek, Russian, Czech, Welsh, Albanian, and Sanskrit?). In learning about the words, I learned more about what I was trying to say with this story. In the end I found what I think is a perfect title. With a new mast, my sails are once again unfurled, and “Misho of the Mountain” is sailing ahead.