Sum up your life in a really catchy book title; do you think you’d do better living it? Think about it, without a title, your life is just – lived. You get out of bed and the weather’s about the only thing that’s changed. Perhaps the rug is a little askew because the cat’s been humping it all night, but all in all, you’re probably going to wind up in bed around the same time as last night.
Now, give your life a title and your entire outlook has a whole new meaning! It’s no longer why does this shit keep happening to me, it’ll be more like, hey, what a dramatic spin the fucked-up trains did to my day!
Your title has to be solid, not like, The Last Nine Pounds, I Am My Mom’s Cliches, or, I Can Run But I Can’t NOT Use My Credit Card. It has to pertain to your unique situation and here’s how to do it.
I found this great NY Book Editors article about the importance of – the title. Sure, it’s written for writers working on their novels, but it worked on the short story I had in progress, and then it occurred to me – this could be applied to…my measly existence.
Okay, let’s ignore the flake-factor. I assure you, there is no big green “Buy Now” button for ten installments of $19.95 at the end of the screen. How do I know so much about Scientology tactics, right?
In creating your ideal title, the real meat is not so much in the article but in the questionnaire worksheet you download.
You’re saying, I knew it! This chick does want my credit card info, after all.
Just put your wallet away, Pickles – my website isn’t secure enough to accept your money. I’ll give you the gist of it and you won’t have to download a damned thing.
First question, What is the main theme? Now for a book or story, you have your choice of murder, mystery, romance, space travel, and talking animals. But life comes down to two choices.
Sounds simple, unless you try to figure out which end of the polarity you usually find yourself on. Yin or Yang? Positive, negative. Winner vs. Murphy’s Law; Chocolate or vanilla; Marvel or DC.? We could get crazy, but let’s reduce it to this: are you a giver or a taker?
Givers are like ladybugs, trees, and Chinese delivery; takers would be – Freaky Frank. Trust me, if you know who he is, you know what I’m talking about.
Moving on to the next question: Who is your protagonist?
Of course, in your life, you are the protagonist. Or are you? My boys prefer to be the comic relief if that sounds possible. I tend to think that children to an adult life are secondary characters anyway. Unless – they have special powers which can trap, choke or set you on fire just by looking your way, then by all means, take a back seat. But yeah, this one’s easy – it’s your story, your name could be in your title.
What is your protagonist afraid of? For some, this question can be ethnically challenging. Asians would say a bad reputation or a fat butt. Europeans might add no-smoking areas or weevils, and Americans are overwhelmingly afraid of small portions. So do tell, what are you afraid of and more importantly, should you include it in your life’s title?
Setting, time and what happens? It is obvious, right?
Lastly, What’s the philosophy behind your story? Whether your philosophy is idealistic, benevolent, or cynical, as long as you have one, there’s really nothing you can’t eat – including your words.
Once you’ve come up with a title to your life, then what? Well, you can introduce yourself as the main character of the story, (insert title here). Or you can start writing that memoir as you live it, which would technically be a diary but look what it did for Anne Frank?
Ooh, if you do come up with a grand title to your life, do share.