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January 2017, vol 12 no 4

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Mary Myers

The Importance of Titles

Emily didn't use them. Haiku can't have them. But I remember an assignment on choosing an effective title in my high school writing class. The young, handsome, conservatively long-haired teacher (it was the '70's) told us to write a short, true story and we'd be graded on how well our title worked. All the other girls had googly eyes for this guy whose name I cannot recall. I, however, did not live that fantasy and was just aiming for a high grade. Being a thoroughly honest person who did not yet grasp literary license, the writing of non-fiction was not in my repertoire. So I went with total fiction.

black ink
between faint blue lines
the writing on the wall

My story grew and grew into a gem. I polished it well. Unfortunately, the teacher couldn't pronounce the title, "Lost in the Okeefenokee Forest." But he liked the tale well enough that he was going to read it to the entire class. I was bursting with pride. Then he asked me, "Did this really happen?" I couldn't kill the mocking bird twice, so he didn't read my tour de force aloud.

Harper Lee's
first choice