A Rose By Any Other Name Is Still A Rose, But Will A Person Find A Rose To Sniff If It Is Not Named A Rose

Which was my question about the title of my novel manuscript I C U, after I read my publisher’s thirteen-page evaluation of it.

The editor said I C U was more than a crime novel and thriller, that “. . . the writing does not use these as crutches. Instead a literary voice accompanies this thrilling plot, moving the reader with devastating truth that resounds in descriptions:

‘I am broken, sitting in the bathtub, letting water run over me, though I do not think there is enough water anywhere to help me. I held a plastic bag of ice against my bottom lip where he bit in deep. It is swollen twice its size. When I lick my lips, I taste him and I get sick to my stomach.

‘If there has ever been fresh air and sunshine and breezes and the sound of birds chirping, they are gone. It is dark here.'”

Then, the publisher’s editor continued—and I blushed reading–that I, as a writer, ” . . . pirouette skillfully from one character and timeline to another, and each figure is masterfully rendered from imagination into a living, breathing person. Renee [the protagonist] is not a cookie-cutter victim: she is a real woman, flawed and broken and overwhelmed and resilient and strong.”

Which gets us back to naming the rose.

And the question of whether or not with the title I C U, my novel would draw in a reader of literary fiction who wants a page-turning crime thriller about pain and loss and death that begins in an I C U waiting area and slaps the reader with the reality of the play on words, I See You, as the pages are flipped through a deteriorating marriage and sexual assault, among other things.

The publisher’s editor said, “In terms of drawing in new readers, I worry that the abbreviation won’t be successful. I suggest a more literary title that plays into the themes of loss and devastation in a woman’s life . . . [and I suggest u]sing A Novel as a subtitle. . . .”

The fifth title she suggested, Unspeakable Things: A Novel, tagged me. And it tagged one of my daughters-in-law.

For, in actuality, my novel manuscript is about unspeakable things.

So, we have named the rose the rose, Unspeakable Things: A Novel, another editing of which the publisher has recommended. Therefore, we shall refine Unspeakable Things: A Novel for you and it will be available for you to pick and sniff in the coming months.

Life 101, Blog 4, May 25, 2016

Copyright 2016. Jackie Warren Tatum