Lately, I’ve become especially in tune with the way people describe their relationship with cancer – and trust me, it is a relationship – or the words they use when expressing compassion toward me. It’s very common to hear statements like “You’re battling this disease” or “you’re gonna win the war” or other combat-like metaphors. I, myself even use the term ‘cancer-warrior’ just because I like the sound, and besides, who doesn’t want to be a warrior, right? But in my recent reanalyzing of this relationship with dis-ease, I am reviewing my own language. I’m a writer, words are my play things, I can do this.
I’ve come to realize that being a warrior requires a battle, it is a combative term after all. And therein lies my problem.
I’ve been living with cancer for two decades now. I have had three major surgeries and two minor. I’m down a couple organs and twice have had my throat cut from jugular to jugular – only nicked once – and have lived to tell. Alas, here I am again exhibiting irregular tests, shadowy images on scans and abnormal even ‘aggressive’ tumor indicators. Mine is a rare cancer so there isn’t much study available. As a matter of fact last week I was told that my closely-monitored 20 year old file is a great resource in the search for answers about Medullary Carcinoma – cool, glad I can help. Anyway, I’m tired of partaking in such an adversarial relationship. Besides, maybe all that fighting has added to the struggle. Besides, words are powerful things, and as my gramma used to say, ‘you can never rise above your words.’ So if I can’t rise above them, then I need to raise them to level at which I would like to live.
Cancer, at least my cancer is something I have to co-exist with. Oh sure, it may be like living with a troublemaking roommate I can’t get rid of, but live with I must. It’s in my throat, so I live with a mostly metaphorical knife at my throat, but sometimes that metaphor turns literal and surgical cutting ensues.
For a long time I also used antagonistic, rebellious ‘I’m goin’ to war’ metaphors. But now I’m attempting to alter my orientation from combatting my dis-ease to embracing and partnering with it. After all, we do share the same space, so it follows that we have to learn to connect and peacefully co-exist. HA! As I write this I keep imagining the roommate, Spike (played by Rhys Ifans) in the movie, Notting Hill. It made me smile time and time again when I was recuperating from one of my surgeries a few years ago. It hurt to laugh then, but Spike, cracked me up!
Anyway, I’ve come to realize that I can’t truly heal myself of something I’m not connected to. Have I spent all these years putting my energy into fighting instead of healing, meanwhile thinking the two were synonymous? What’s that Tony Robbins quote, ‘where focus goes, energy flows’… so true.
Well, I’ve decided to focus my energy and thoughts on healing instead of fighting and that requires a new set of skills and language. Kinda like Hugh Grant’s character, William Thacker in Notting Hill, had to do with Spike. He really had to make peace with his undesirable roommate because they shared the same space. Ultimately they became great friends.
Making peace, not war may be the best motto in life in general and may serve the overall quality of life whether you’re a patient or not. Aiming our energy towards the healing process helps us connect with our journey through any kind of dis-ease (illness, mourning, divorce, horrible roommates, etc.). It’s far more empowering than directing energy towards the anger linked with the cancer, which keeps you interlocked in a victim role and feeling you need to fight. Maybe changing the words, the language of war to a language of compassion and self-love is the path that will illuminate this often exhausting and emotional journey. Either way, since I play with words, that’s what I’ll be doing.
Oh, and if you aren’t familiar with these images of Spike, then you have to watch Notting Hill. He’s brilliant! Still laughing.
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Now can you think of a book title that would horrify your children (and possibly grandchildren) more than these seven words, Author Survives Parenthood and Writes Tell All??? Not only would it garner immediate interest (fear) from your children, but because people are voyeurs by nature, it would grab the attention of readers, at least enough for them to pick it up off the shelf (old school bookstore or virtual) and give it a look-see.
Seizing a reader’s attention via a snappy title is a first HUGE step for author-kind. With a great title you’ve won the first battle, but there are so many more battles to come. Because next you must have written a great first line (hook) and follow that up with a good premise, plot, and great storytelling.
It’s true, readers judge books by their covers, paying particular attention to the title. Your book title can make or break the success of your book.
There’s a good article on this topic at Authority Pub. Here’s an excerpt I borrowed to make my point. ….According to research conducted by author, blogger, and speaker Michael Hyatt, consumers check out a book in the following order:
Table of contents
First few paragraphs of the book’s content
Note that NOWHERE DOES IT SAY AUTHOR’S NAME.
So, in addition to scaring your children, what should a title do? If you take a peek at the above referenced site you’ll see some good examples of titles, both fiction and non. In addition, a title should intrigue, peek interest, shock, make a reader wonder What? Who? Why? offer help, or offer escape. There’s a plethora of opinions on what a title should do and how to do it. So do your research and carefully decide what works for your book.
Then after you have your title you can see if you’re on the mark.
LULU has created a free tool that will grade your title based on its probability to be successful. To create it, Lulu and their team of statisticians deliberated over a list of the best-selling titles from 1955 to 2004 and eventually created a super cool tool, the Lulu TitleScorer. Put your title in and see how it scores. I wish I’d of had this when my first novel came out, the title, Return to Sender only scored a 22% probability of success. UGH!
Also, here is a GREAT article on using power words and creating attention grabbing titles. Though the article focusing primarily on non-fiction, it’s all good info to keep in mind when crafting a title that will jump off the shelves. https://www.tckpublishing.com/how-to-write-book-titles-that-sell/
“A good title tells what the book is about. A great title tells what the end destination is. A truly superb title is one that tells the end destination and also appeals to core human desires.”
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Cool, my #Author / #writing instructor #interview w/@EdmondsCC is out, have a looksee…
Okay, it’s busy around my house in the weeks approaching Christmas, so little time for writing. However, I have completed the first chapters of my next novel, Garden of Lies, and am very happy with it. I had written the first draft, then read it and realized it needed to be written in third person as opposed to the first person I had written in. SO, the big undertaking of rewriting in third is nearly complete. Then I can move on to the the rest of the story. It’s a lot of work so I’m thrilled I realized this when not yet 100 pages in. WHEW!
Aside from that there’s the decorating, the shopping, the baking, the cleaning, the shopping, the wrapping, the
shopping and the stuffing of stockings. Oh, and then more shopping. What! You don’t decorate your scotch?
And then I volunteer, as I have for nearly 20 years, as an artist for the Salvation Army Toy-n-Joy event. It’s a LONG day of drawing, painting and decorating the stadium before our ‘guests’ arrive to select toys for their children — children who otherwise would likely not have a gift for Christmas. Every year this work makes me feel part of something bigger than myself. Many years ago before my life was so blessed, I was a mom who could barely afford Christmas for my child, it’s a painful, shame-filled and soul sucking experience. That’s why I so love being a little part of making a child smile at Christmas and helping out another mother who otherwise may feel helpless.
Lend a hand this year, lift a neighbor up, give to the food bank or toy event in your community, visit an elder care home and give the gift of your time, pack food gift baskets for your church or give a teacher some special school supplies to surprise her kids with – whatever kind of opportunity aligns with your beliefs, the point is that there are so many ways to give. Tis the season. Blessings, Mindy