Titles Are Hard. Mine Took Several Tries.

After years of work branding and rebranding successful companies, I know how important the right name can be. Somehow, you must capture the essence of something that is often quite complex in just a few letters or words. Not an easy task.

When it came to choosing a title for my book, there were numerous misses. My first working title in April 2020 was NOT A LIFESTYLE. A LIFE. I borrowed a line from an address I gave to our local Presbytery in 2009 on why gay people should be allowed to hold leadership positions in the church. I felt the periods were awkward, but I stayed with it. Then one spring night while I grilled pork tenderloin on our balcony for dinner, a friend asked me the title. Spatula in one hand, wine glass in the other, I got it backward: A LIFE. NOT A LIFESTYLE. So, I knew it had to go. It didn’t exactly flow trippingly off the tongue.

SHARE THIS HOUSE WITH ME was my next choice. It was a reference to the diagram of an A-frame house for us that Ted drew just a few months after we met in 1977—a detailed drawing that even included his ideas on where we’d put the furniture. I liked the strength of it. I could hear Ted voicing the invitation. This was the title under which I submitted my third draft manuscript to Riverdale Avenue Books, the version for which they offered me a contract in January 2020. But once the editing process started in March of that year, my editor asked if I might consider a different title.

I offered these:

  • NOT ALL BOY: A Gay Man’s Journey to Love and Self-Celebration
  • US: A Memoir
  • THE WAY TO US: Two Men. One Love. Four Decades and Counting
  • AN HONEST MAN OF ME: A Story of Two Guys in Love

Later that month, it was my publisher who suggested the final title, THE WAY FROM ME TO US, an expansion of #3 above. It struck me how quickly Riverdale had captured the essence of my book. While I had been tapping all around it (and maybe even hammering my thumb a time or two), they nailed it.

Best of all, the new title helped me tighten the focus of my book in subsequent edits over the months that followed. It helped me find my story—a story of our relationship, yes, but also of how I changed and grew within it, how I learned to accept myself and our relationship as something right, something good.

It didn’t happen right away. Ted was far more comfortable with our love affair when we began than I was. (I was just coming out of a four-year relationship with a young woman I had met in college and wasn’t sure I’d ever be happy being gay.) But… he stood by me through the evolution.

He stayed. And now the perfect title stays, too.

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