Before I even started writing my book, I had a title. I jotted it down in the front cover of a red-cloth notebook that I’d picked up in Old Delhi. It was the first of five notebooks to come during the course of all those many miles riding around India.
The journey was long, but as I rode something happened. The title that I’d first thought so fittingly perfect for my book began to morph and change with each turn of the wheel. I wrote down each new title that popped into my head, thinking it summed up all a good title should.
I didn’t know what a good title really was. I thought it should be catchy and convey the essence of the story. I still do. But when writing the story it often changes. So with that in mind, the title needs to change as well.
When I began writing my book I thought it would center on a legend of the goddess Kali, and the 51 temples scattered around India dedicated to her. My story, however, is about more than the goddess Kali. It is also about vulnerability, being a woman alone on the road, and uncertainty–not only of myself but also of where I was and what I was doing.
Somewhere along the way I learned that the word “naked” in a title sells 50,000 more copies. I knew of other books containing the word “naked”: The Naked Gun, The Naked Lunch, The Naked Chef.
I wrote down all the titles as they came to me. When I look at them now, some seem so wrong. I’m happy, however, to have a record of my evolutionary chain of thoughts. For what it’s worth, I’d like to share it with you here.
Fifty-one Parts of Kali
The Naked Lady
Pieces of One
On the Edge
Naked on the Edge of Madness
Naked On The Edge: Motorcycling India Solo
Naked on the Edge: A Motorcycle Odyssey Through India in Search of the Self
Naked on the Edge: A Motorcycle Odyssey Though India in Search of a Goddess
Naked on the Edge: a Motorcycle, a Goddess, and a Journey Around India
Titles change. Content changes. When they do, go with the flow of the process, and don’t let anything stop you from expressing yourself on the page.