Monday, May 24, 2010

The Power of a Good Title

Dale and I visited the NC Museum of Art this weekend. They just finished building a new "wing" - really a whole new building - and so we visited, looking at some familiar art in a new setting, as well as new acquisitions. One thing in particular I noticed were the titles of the artworks. As an author, I struggle with titles. I rarely can think of a truly interesting or attention getting title. I think I've come up with a pretty good title for my short story collection, although it's not as representational of the work as I might like. But I just have difficulty thinking of titles for my stories.
Artists, I've noticed, have it easy by comparison. There were several works of art that were simply "Untitled". Sometimes they were untitled with numbers attached. There was one work of art titled "Pigeon." It was an elaborate 3-D work that looked like a woman, and the history of the piece described how the artist arrived at the end result. It also mentioned, casually, that the work was titled "Pigeon" because a pigeon roosted in the artist's loft during the work. Wait a minute, really? Does that mean I can title my short story "Squirrels Eating my House" because that's what I hear while in my office, writing? Because wow, my titles just got a lot more interesting! And what about the Untitled's? Can I just go with that? "Untitled," a collection of un-named short stories by Elaine.
I'm not criticizing artists. Their medium is visual - the title is not integral to the work the way it is for a written piece of art. Still, I must admit I'm a little jealous, especially given my lack of ability in this area...

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