The thing about writing a book is that it can take years and years, as it did in my case. October was its completion and I marked the occasion unceremoniously because, in truth, there’s a sense of double sadness. An eight-year process was over and life needed to move on. But on the other hand, the real work was beginning. What to do with the book. Who will represent it? Who will publish it? Who will market it?
And then there’s the more basic question that needs to be resolved before any of this is achieved. What the heck is the title?
With the book done, I was so changed from the person I was when I started, and had that spark in the first place, that the original title felt out of place. Wagamama means selfish. Not selfish in the way of hoarding cookies, but a grander selfishness, to lead a life that goes counter to the family values that come with Japanese marriage.
The spark of The Wagamama Bride title was so strong that it carried me through years of writing the book. My daughter, to this day, absolutely insists that the title be left alone.
But when the very process of writing a memoir changes you to the core of your being, how could I live with a title conceived in the year 2012, when we are in 2020?
There’s a simple rule for the following of intuition: honor your first impression. The Wagamama Bride carried me up to the finishing gate. And if I must admit it, since last October, I’ve been sending the book to agents under a new name, The Bride in the White Crane Kimono. Twelve rejections later–9 unanswered, 3 polite refusals, I think I get the message. It may be time I return to the original name.
The Jewish Bride Who Wore a Kimono
PS Having said this, if you think the Wagamama Bride can be improved upon, and you come up with a better title for a memoir that takes you one Shabbat at a time into a Jewish household transforming itself under the lofty heavens of Japan, then please do let me know!