love lay down beside me and we wept

By Helen Murray Taylor

A rare and lyrical memoir about the author's time in a psychiatric ward and her road to recovery

Monday, 17 October 2022

Where did the title come from?

Titles! The bane of my writing life. They can make or break a piece of work. Fortunately if, like me, you write books rather than poems or short stories, you only have to come up with them once in a blue moon. But even so, I struggle to get it right. Supporters of The Backstreets of Purgatory may or may not have read this post about rubbish working titles (of which Backstreets and love lay down beside me and we wept had many). Happily, after many iterations, I'm really pleased with the titles of both of my books (except that love lay down beside me and we wept is far, far, far too long for a Twitter hashtag; I clearly wasn't thinking about my marketing efforts when I settled on it).

I'm frequently asked where the title of love lay down came from. The easy answer is that it is lifted from the text of the book itself. It is the end of a chapter, literally and figuratively, when I'm about to move from London. I'm sitting in an empty flat and I hear the cat howl from her carrier as she is taken out to the car and it sounds like the cry of an infant. And I'm overwhelmed by what has just happened to me, the IVF, the miscarriage.

love lay down beside me and we wept 



The more difficult thing to explain is why those words were the only ones that would do. In his Red Hand Files, Nick Cave talks about his lyrics and certain words 'that exist in a world of their own - in a place of potentiality, adjacent to meaning. Words that feel authentic but remain mysterious, as if a greater truth lies just beyond our understanding.' I think I feel like that about love lay down. It is a phrase that makes no literal sense, a slant approach to heartbreak, but it is a truth nonetheless. 


Photo by Kabiur Rahman Riyad on Unsplash

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Helle Patterson
 Helle Patterson says:

I love your titles, Helen, especially “love lay down” because it sounds like something from the Song of Solomon “By the waters of Babylon”. Before I read what the book was about my imagination was caught. Beautiful and sad. Heartbreaking. And original.

posted 21st October 2022

Helen Taylor
 Helen Taylor says:

Ah, thank you Helle. It’s lovely to hear that it is resonating like that xx

posted 25th October 2022

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