The manuscript I had been writing most Friday afternoons for nearly ten years had a name. It was EXACT NATURE. I identified with that title, and I was not only attached to it, the title seemed ordained. I talked about my writing regularly by name. And then, less than six months before my plan to publish this sweet-ass novel with its provocative title and beautiful cover, another book came along with the very same name. The other EXACT NATURE was released in January 2018, is also a family drama, and this book is published by St. Martin’s Press.
Well good for you, Janet Peery. I wish you well.
It took a while to adjust to reality. Then I went on the hunt. I searched for phrases to jump out at me from the text, phrases like Radiance Stretched, The Sun Droned, and The Readying Sign. But these were clunky, hard to say, pretentious. I could not capture a title. And the few times I almost had something, I would google it and there would be another book with the same or nearly the same title. After a few weeks, I stopped looking. I took a break and trusted something would reveal itself when I was ready to know it.
The day the current title showed up, I was an emotional wreck -- full of fear and off-balance about several life-changing events surging towards fruition -- one of those changes being the decision to become a self-published author. That day, when I was driving home, the words what you carry grew legs and walked into a suddenly sun-lit meadow in my mind. The words carved a canyon through my skull…what you carry, what you carry, what you carry…
Of course! That’s it! Finally, you are here, you are mine, you are perfect. Flustered, I sat in the car after I parked, letting the potential title sink in. I had a brush with mania and was kissed by the universe. I was downright giddy, and started to cry.
The novel tells the story of what each person in the Thompson family carries – their hazel green eyes and clenched jaw -- a pound of flesh and the type of grinder. WHAT YOU CARRY is about one’s resilience, one’s ingredients, and one’s cradle. It’s how the sausage gets made.
But something wasn’t right. I became suspicious of this manna from heaven. Before I got out of the car, I realized What You Carry is the title of one of my husband’s, Brian Mello’s, more recent songs. I simultaneously lost my breath and laughed out loud.
You can’t leave what you carry with you
I’ve been dragging these memories through the years on a chain
Count every grain of sand that slips through my hands
Holding on so tight to all that pain
I am floored by the symmetry in this shoulder-to-shoulder trek.
WHAT YOU CARRY, a novel, will be available in print and e-book Valentine's Day 2018.