Yes, Epiphanies Really do Happen

31 May

So, given the title of this blog, I’ve been thinking about “epiphanies” this week.  How often do they come?  What truly constitutes one?  I like the word “epiphany”.  Just saying it makes me smile.  I think it’s the “ph”…I get a kick out of “ph” words.  Those two letters, masquerading as ff’s.  (I have no idea how that rule of spelling came about.  Not that I have very many ideas about very many spelling rules.)  I had an honest-true epiphany this week.  One of those moments where, one second you don’t know…and the next second you do.  I like the moments as well as the word.

I’ve been doing my final read-through of my manuscript.  One last proofing/editing before feeling like it’s ready to be seen by an editor.  I was sitting at Ben Lee’s Café, the wonderful coffee shop I write at during my daughter’s pre-school for two hours, twice a week.  (Oh, precious hours!)  School is out now.  (MIXED FEELINGS!)  But my friend Sarah offered to take the kids so I could do this final reading.  Things were going well.  I was reading chapters I hadn’t looked at in a long time; I was enjoying the editing, the coffee, the feeling that things were being accomplished…and then I reached the end of a chapter and one line leaped out at me.  Just one innocent line which I wrote months ago…and suddenly I had my title.  It had been waiting there for me for all this time and I didn’t know.

I’ve been unhappy with my working title…titles, I should say.  None of them were obeying their title and WORKING.  I’ve even asked my friends in
our critique group (Oh, marvelous women!) and they, too, weren’t thrilled with my options.  In fact, last month when we met, we said, “Well, maybe it will leap out at you as you read through the whole manuscript again.”  YES!  It did.  Even my aforementioned friend Sarah – who knows very little about the topic, etc., of the story, pointed in an instant to that new title when I gave her a list to choose from.  Yes!  One second I didn’t know.  The next second I did.

Ah, the beauty of epiphanies.

PS…sorry…I decided not to post the title as it’s not copywritten and I don’t want it to be swiped!  Yes, I’m possessive!  I guess you’ll have to keep on reading my blog to find out how it all plays out.  :-)

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18 Responses to “Yes, Epiphanies Really do Happen”

  1. alison May 31, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Marvelous, simply marvelous.

  2. Stacey May 31, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    SO WHAT’S THE TITLE?!?!?! :-) I have been waiting with anticipation for Tuesday, because I thought you were going to spill the beans! Those expectations-they get me in trouble.

    Your post today illustrates my own mini-epiphany about book titles. Or rather, your post confirms my mini-epiphany as having validity. I don’t know why, but I guess I had always assumed that an author or a movie-maker or a tv show producer or a dance company director STARTED with a title, and then developed a work of art around it. You know, you get to page 125 of a book, and you see the title of the book in a sentence, and you say, “aha, that is what this book is based on”.

    I’m not sure when I started to suspect it’s sometimes/often the other way around. But i suspect it has something to do with getting into a really, really good book and then all of a sudden coming across a page with the title in it. You all of a sudden realize, there’s NO WAY all the great development that happened before the title, came about only as a consequence of the title!

    Come to think of it…that says something about spiritual formation and the power of naming, doesn’t it? Naming something after or when you are going through it, holds more graceful power than being given a slip of paper that says “brace yourself for thus and such”. Hey…a fine day for an epiphany for me to, yes? Thanks to you and the reflections your blog inspired.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 31, 2011 at 10:13 am #

      I know, I know…I had the title in it at first…then removed it. This is probably silly and “arrogant” (see “where I’m coming from”!!!) but I had this sudden image of some person I don’t know finding this post and scarfing my title. So…sorry…I decided not to post it after all!

      As for starting with a title vrs. finding it as you go along…I think that both happen. I am good at chapter titles…bad at book titles. It’s a “small picture” vrs. “big picture” thing for me – I can nail down the small picture fairly easily…but the big picture is a lot harder for me to be willing to commit to! Naming my kids was scary, too – such a PERMANENT thing!!! Hmmm…didn’t realize I had so much to say/think about titles…maybe you’ve inspired my next post! Be patient if I repeat myself, eh?!! And yes…names do have power…wow. Now I really do have to go think through this concept more!

      THANKS for posting, Stacey…it’s fun to have something to inspire/be inspired by!!

      • Tarisa May 31, 2011 at 10:17 am #

        Maybe you should send a FB message with the title to those of us who are dying of anticipation! ;)

  3. Andrea May 31, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    So what is the title?

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 31, 2011 at 10:16 am #

      I’m sorry – I’ll have to add a PS – I decided not to post it due to copywrite issues…it’s not copywritten and I don’t want it to be swiped!

  4. Sandy Anderson May 31, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    …and are you going to leave us hanging, wondering what wonderful title this epiphany has divulged?? Sandy

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 31, 2011 at 10:20 am #

      Sorry! I know. I just added a PS to the post…I decided not to post the title due to copywrite issues…so stay tuned!!!!

  5. Rose May 31, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Yay- glad you’ve got a title that works! :o)

  6. Kimberly Robertson May 31, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    G-
    I am looking around for some epiphanies of my own! Thank you for this carefully crafted and beautifully written piece.
    I so look forward to following your blog and to eventually reading INSERT TITLE HERE novel!

  7. Shelly June 3, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    Can’t wait to find out the title! I love ephiphanies like that too, Gretchen, and your description really fits it: “One minute and don’t know and the next minute you do know.” So much knowledge we have to struggle to gain, but also, so much is just freely given (James 1:5). I have always believed that’s where coffee came from. Who but God could have told us that this particular bean could be dried, roasted, ground up, brewed with water, and drunk hot (with cream and sugar?!) at BenLee’s cafe while reading a manuscript. Nobody could have thought THAT one up without some ephiphany help!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell June 4, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      Well, whoever it was that received that particular epiphany deserves our eteral gratitude, that’s for sure. :-)

  8. Minnesota Prairie Roots July 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Amazing how these moments happen in the writing process, isn’t it? And they typically happen after you’ve tucked away your work for awhile and then pull it out and view your writing with fresh eyes. So glad you “found the title, Gretchen.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

      Yes, I found the title…though not certain that now, months later, it’s what I’ll use! BUT…who knows. But yes, set writing aside – that’s huge. And then when you pull it out…you’ll see all the glaring mistakes!!!

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