Monday, October 17, 2011

This blog post has no title

I have just changed the title of the novel I'm currently working on.


I just can't decide on the right title. I almost feel like letting the publisher decide.

Just think how important the title of a book is. A good one will not only be memorable but make potential new readers actively seek out the book.

It will resonate in your head like a tuning fork. Stick in the mind like stubborn egg stains. Have an emotional punch like Mohammed Ali.

A good title even becomes an icon or a touchstone in its own right.

Catch-22. 1984. Brave New World.

It can also signify the genre.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen
could not be anything but fantasy.

The Unquiet has to be a thriller.

It can be eponymous, like Anna Karenina or Emma Bovary; or signify the theme, like Crime and Punishment or Pride and Prejudice.

Or it can be quirky, like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, or The Knife of Never Letting Go.

And just silly and quirky, like Puckoon, or The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

At the same time as thinking about this I'm reading an autobiographical monograph by Haruki Murashami called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

People, he says, often ask him if, while running, he is thinking about the novel he is currently writing.

"No," is his answer. Actually, he is thinking about nothing. Or, as he puts it, The Void.

Now, here is an interesting place. I love The Void so much I have a room permanently reserved there.

The problem is, I often lose my way when trying to reach it.

The Void is variously also known as The Still Point of the Turning World (T.S. Eliot), The Supreme Point Where All Contradictions are Resolved (André Breton and the Surrealist Manifesto), and The Uncarved Block (Chinese Taoist Art training).

In a world drowning in a surfeit of words, to which we are all, writers par excellence, fatally addicted, the Void is reached by taking a Journey to the East - which is East of Eden - by jumping off Brighton Rock, following the Songlines along the Road to Wigan Pier, through the Heart of Darkness, crossing the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, at the end (where else?) of The Road Less Travelled.

Not enough people go there.

It's quiet: in The Void you can't even hear yourself think.

Here, you can try without trying, be without wanting, start without stopping.

All opposites are reconciled like identical poles of a magnet brought together as if they were north and south.

And here, as Pierre Reverdy said, is the place where the most successful poetic images are generated.

"The image is a pure creation of the spirit. It cannot emerge from a comparison, but from the coming together of two distant realities. The more the relations between those two realities are distant and right, the stronger the image will be - the more it will have emotive force and poetic reality."

Is not this also what we require from a successful book title?

So what, you're hopefully wondering, is the title I have settled on (at least until a better one comes along)?

In truth, it's not one I thought of myself. I have my fiancée, Helen, to thank.

She, being a musician and composer, knows the Void well, since music is another conveyance that transports to it the sympathetic mind.

The rejected titles were: The Drowning. The Essence. The Ending.

The new one: Stormteller.

Would you pick up a book with such a title?