A Fitting Place – A Metaphor

 

A Fitting PlaceMay 1 was the big day—the release of my first novel, A Fitting Place. 

Since I began to use my book cover to promote the book, people have asked me about source of my title. The one that actually made me laugh out loud came from a friend who buys his athletic shoes at a local emporium called “The Fitting Place.”

I assure you, I didn’t have a shoe store in mind when I picked the title. On the other hand, a place where you can try something on to see if it fits is not so far off the mark.

So, herewith, some thoughts about my title, which serves as a metaphor on several different levels.

A Fitting Room – In the days when I still liked to shop for clothes, a fitting room was a great place to try on a new persona while I was trying on a new outfit. I’d never worn purple—how would it look with my skin? Would I feel sexy or tart-y in a sequined dress with a plunging neckline? Those dressing rooms coughed up some unexpected treasures that delighted me for years. But more than once, my “new-persona” purchase languished in a closet until I carted it off to Goodwill.

The dressing room is a metaphor for Lindsey’s love affair with a woman. The relationship offers an intimacy she has always ached to have, an opportunity to try a different way of living and loving. But will that same-sex relationship stand the test of time, or will it founder just as her previous relationships with men have foundered?

The Biblical Notion of Fitting. The term “fitting” appears frequently in both the Old and New Testament, usually referring to actions or events that are suited to the circumstances. It stands in contrast to events or actions that are seen to be “right” in some a priori or moralistic way.

For most of her life, Lindsey has been determined to do or say the “right” thing, based on the societal values, including gender roles, with which she was raised. She routinely subordinated her needs to the whims and desires of others, or to what she assumed was expected of her. This approach to life has left her with chronic anxiety and stomachaches that sap her energy.

It is only when Lindsey begins to take responsibility for her own actions based on her own needs—to do what fits the situation rather than what she thinks someone wants—that her anxiety level drops and her stomachaches ease. It is the beginning of  maturity.

A Jigsaw Puzzle – Have you ever had the thoroughly annoying experience of working on a jigsaw puzzle with a piece or two missing? Have you ever had the rather more distressing sense that there was a piece of information missing from your life, a crucial insight that would make everything okay if you knew what it was?

That’s exactly how Lindsey has felt for years. But the missing pieces were largely of her own making, a result of her effort to live by what she assumed other people wanted, a consequence of her tendency to withhold information about herself and to dole out only what she thought people “ought” to know.

The pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place as Lindsey began to acknowledge her own needs and, in the process, discover that what her friends and family really wanted from her was quite different than what she had assumed.

How does the metaphor of A Fitting Place apply to your life?

 

Comments

  1. Mary, you are the guru of metaphor! After reading your novel, I know you have the perfect title to depict Lindsey’s struggle to find her way. You bring up an important point about how your title has to “fit” your book’s message. I had to try on many different titles for my memoir and it wasn’t until this past summer that it came to me in a serendipitous moment. I was reading my preface to fellow writer Susan Weidener at a conference and when I came to “ever faithful to his lead”, I stopped, looked at Susan and said, “that’s my title.” It was there all along but I never “saw” it until then. It fit and has withstood the test of scrutiny and time. The title must resonate the heart of one’s story. Best wishes on A Fitting Place. It is a wonderful story.

    • Mary Gottschalk says

      Kathy … thanks for your kind words as well as your consistent support and encouragement (sometimes under conditions of technological duress!) I’m looking forward to seeing the final copy of your memoir …. a busy spring, don’t you think?

  2. Mary, hats off to you, if I had a hat. I don’t even have a prayer covering to doff to celebrate this accomplishment.

    At this point I don’t have a title for my memoir though I have played around with several metaphors, one of them being the staircase featured on my blog post today. Perhaps like Kathy, I will have an epiphany one day. But first, I must write that book! 🙂

    • Mary Gottschalk says

      Marian — from you’ve shared of your life, I think the stairs have real potential as an abiding metaphor … each step may be small, but eventually you do get there …. and sometimes what’s at the top of the stairs is different than what you expected.

      Thanks for your encouragement and support along the way.

  3. Well described, Mary. It’s been a pleasure to watch you and your novel and title evolve to this day. I’m excited for you.

  4. Congratulations, Mary! It’s such an exciting time!

    • Mary Gottschalk says

      Hi Joan … thanks for those kind words ….

      I’m hoping you’ll find time to do a guest blog for me on mindfulness … I love the way your mind works.

  5. It’s a great title, Mary and works so well with the cover image. Congratulations on all the work you’ve done to get this far

    • Mary Gottschalk says

      Thanks David … I’m so grateful for your willingness to be a beta reader and provide a man’s perspective on a woman’s story … one that I think a lot of men ought to read.

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