Every book has a “working title”. Her Mother’s Hope had several. The first one, Floodwaters, fit what I was feeling when I started working on the story: drowning in memories, being swept toward the sea. In other words, I was way over my head. Would I find the answers I was seeking? I held Mom and Grandma so close while writing that it was more biography than fiction – and the first rendition did not work.
Sometimes the hardest thing a writer has to do is get out of her own way.
First draft (all 1000 pages) set aside, I took another dive at the story, this time as a saga, moving from one generation to the next. The story began to unfold. The characters took on a life of their own. It became less about Grandma and more about Marta, less about Mom and more about Hildemara. I thought about using the first title, but my daughter Shannon pointed out with her usual sense of humor that “Floodwaters” would look rather odd on a cover with “Rivers” right under it. We both had a good laugh over that.
Second working title: Wishing for the Moon. It had a good deal to do with the story. Each woman in the story wishes for something that seems beyond reach. Each loves her daughter deeply, but has difficulty showing that love in a way her daughter understands. Sometimes we wish for something we already possess. We’re simply blind to it.
The final title, Her Mother’s Hope, was a joint effort. Marta is her mother’s hope – but the title means so much more than that. Mothers and daughters all hope for connection as well as independence. We all dream of how a family can be if the past is set aside and we build bridges instead of fortresses.
Things to ponder:
Do I know the hopes and dreams of my children?
Do I encourage them to “fly”? Or do I clip their wings?