Monday, November 26, 2012

The Search for Titles

Titles are important. A great title can vault an average essay or book out of the slush and into print.  That's why I spend considerable time on my titles:  because I'm not very good at creating them.  Sometimes the editors have to help me.

Last week, however, I did create two exceptional essay titles.  The first is now in print, and the second is lingering in my re-write pile.

My essay, "The Search for Spark", is one I'm very proud to call my own.  (If you don't get the Star Trek reference, see me after class.)  However, this essay has nothing to do with science fiction, but with the personal, social, and theological work inherent in a hard-working staff.  In short, it is an essay on leadership and being attentive to the energy or "spark" that can ignite an organization.  Hokey?  You bet.  But I love the title and so did the editor.  Hence, it's now in print.

My second essay title, "Pumping Irony", bears some explanation.  (And again, if you don't get the documentary reference or Arnold overtones, see me after class.)

Back-history:  a few weeks ago I was working out at the gym (in the middle of my best and heaviest workout in months) when two younger guys sidled up next to me and asked, "Have you ever thought about competing in a bodybuilding competition?"

I explained to them that, indeed, I had actually competed soon after I turned forty (now nearly twelve years ago) and have, from time-to-time, actually considered competing again in my fifties.  However, on those days when I am sane, I back away from these ridiculous thoughts, knowing full well the excruciating labors and disciplines required--not to mention the pain, the anguish, the enormous sacrifices. 

"We're getting ready for a competition," these guys told me.  "And if you want to train with us, we'd like to have you."

Okay, nice gesture.  Thanks, fellas.  But that evening I began writing an essay for a fitness magazine with the title, "Pumping Irony".  It's a humorous piece for old farts with arthritic joints and pulled hamstrings.  Eventually I'll finish it.  I think it will sell.  (Hey, I'd buy it . . . but then, I'd buy everything I wrote!)

But until that time, I'll just keep pumping iron, or irony . . . whatever.  I have to stay strong.  And next week I'll begin writing my second essay, "Pimping Iron".  It's a piece on being a domestic husband for hire.  But don't make me tell you about the chores I do for money.  My wife wouldn't appreciate it.    

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