Entitled to a Title 1

titleThose of you who read this blog are lucky enough to get the clever quippy title I come up with to accompany it each week.

However, these posts also appear weekly in my local newspaper in print and e-edition and the paper has this habit of changing my titles to something they feel is apparently more fitting. So, here is how the article appeared in the paper on Sunday:

Hey, what do you think of my article title today? Is it a good one?

I wouldn’t know.

You’ll find out the title of this article the same time I do. Well, you crazy up-with-the-chickens people will have a jump on me, but I never know exactly what title will grace my article until I amble down my driveway late Sunday morning and get the paper.

I do submit my articles with titles. Usually very catchy ones, in fact. Why would I spend hours carefully crafting intelligent postulations week after week only to submit them without putting the cherry on top? Actually, creating a clever title is a favorite part of the process for me.

But apparently cleverness is out.

You can’t be funny, punny or witty with titles anymore because media outlets that publish in print also publish online where it’s all about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Apparently, the WorldWideWeb doesn’t have a sense of humor so it doesn’t understand clever plays on words, innuendo or insinuation so you have to be all boring and literal and describe exactly what your writing is about to maximize search performance.

However, I stand proud with the dwindling number of purists who prefer the proof of ink-smudged fingers when we finish reading the paper, so for you, for me, for us, I still work a witticism atop my articles before submission, then wait to see what stodgy SEO-savvy replacement is chosen for me.

I’m not bitter, really–mostly.

I’ve dealt with this before. When my first book was in the editing process, I got an email from my publisher introducing me to my “Title Committee.” Hmmm, sounds kinda cool, official and power trippy to have my own committee, but I didn’t know what purpose it would serve since my book already had a title. I’d squeezed every last creative juice from my cranium to come up with just the right combination of words to cleverly represent the genius of content. I figured this committee must be a bunch of interns who needed to feel useful.

They weren’t.

And I wasn’t the head of this committee, or even a member of it for that matter.

The committee had met, deliberated and decided on some title options for my book. I could give input, but the committee had final say.

What?!

I’m not entitled to choose my own title? Have some say over the few and precious words that represent my creative soul?

That’s like giving birth to a beautiful baby and the doctor says, “It’s a boy!”
And I say, “Awesome, I will name him Stephen!”
And the doctor says, “No, the nurses and I have already met together and decided your son’s name is Laverne.”

The title options the committee gave were prosaic, uncreative and, worst of all, un-funny. I’m a humorist! The whole book was about finding the comedy in everyday life, yet the committee’s concoctions could’ve wiped the smile off the Joker’s face.

I asked if I could join the committee.

They said no.

So, I gave my input and the committee members smiled, considered, then named my book Laverne.

Oh well.

At least I did get to name my children, so my husband tells me.

(Note: The paper changed the title of this article to “This is not the suggested title for this article.”)

 

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