You want to talk about crazy? It’s looney how I could write nearly 200,000 words on the life of Katherine Murphy and her crazy clients but somehow be at a loss for words when it comes to giving the series a title. Really, Erin? It seems to me that somewhere in all those words, there should be a title that jumps right out. I think I have those words – two of them – for the second book. (Enter the sound of me knocking on wood). They leaped out at me and make me smile every time I think of them. But we aren’t there yet and getting ahead of myself isn’t going to help matters much. As I lose sleep over coming up with a new name for “Group Therapy: A Novel,” I find myself anxiously waiting for emails from my editor, Colleen, who I’m praying will have a magic wand to cure my loss for words.
I’ve been thinking about Sylvia Plath – her own kind of crazy – and “The Bell Jar.” I haven’t read it in a few years, but the way I remember it, she compared living in a mental institution to living under a bell jar. Her title was a metaphor. But at one point in the book, Ester also uses the words bell jar. She may even use the exact metaphor. I think I need Katherine to use a phrase for a strong metaphor: The big difference? I’m no Sylvia and Katherine’s no Ester.
If I can’t mimic one of my favorite authors, I have to find other ways to get a title on this thing. In my quest, I took the next logical step: I googled – thank you Internet – “ways to title a novel.” One suggestion is to go with a cliché or widely known expression with a new “spin.” Here, I’m thinking “Crazy got your Tongue?” or “Crazy is as Crazy Does.” Still not feeling it.
One thought was to use numbers or other sequences to help with a series. This could mean “Ten Types of Crazy,” with other books in the series being numbered “Eleven (Insert something Brilliant)” and “Twelve Sessions to Sane.” But I’m not really sure that’s me, or Katherine either. We both hate numbers.
Another suggestion is to bite off the titles of other books; preferably best sellers. In this case, it would be something like “Are you there, Crazy? It’s me, Katherine” or “The Crazy Person’s Guide to the Galaxy.” But I just can’t see myself doing that either. It feels like plagiarism. If there’s one thing about my writing, it’s unique.
As I take this first step in the “real world” publishing process, I’m starting to understand why Sylvia put her head in the oven. She had the metaphor and the two words but she didn’t have the Internet or the luxury of brainstorming spread sheets and an editor only an email’s reach away…