Naming songs is easy because I write stupid songs. If I want to call a song "Fake Tits (Real Problems)" I totally can. "Release the Grease" is a go. "Ready, Set, Get Wet" is a must. As long as it's about having sex or drugs or just generally being rad, I can just ramble on about whatever.
That's why I'm having a fuck of a time naming this book. We went through and looked at the the story title first, because that's the easiest way to go about things. Most of my favorite short story collections are named that way, too, so it's not like I could have any sort of pretensions about not coming up with a new title for the whole thing. So when none of the titles looked like a good representation of the book as a whole, I was pretty much fucked.
So I had to read my book again. It's a good book. I'm happy with how it's turning out. But I was pretty sick of myself by the time I had to read it for the third time in a week. I had already read it for sequencing purposes and again for typos and grammatical issues. And now once more to see if a title was buried somewhere in the text? I'm dumb.
I came up with a long list of shit from the text that stood out, none of which I was particularly blown away by upon review.
All At Once It Becomes Important
(From "Sergei Avdeyev." Not a bad title, but I don't want people to think I'm bragging. If I went with this, I might as well include a free video download of me singing "I'm the Man" by Anthrax and flexing.)
Only the Black of the Birds
(From "Plots." It's good, but not for this collection. Maybe I'll write something about crows someday, but probably not, since I only passed my college zoology class because I cheated on all those tests with the stupid Scantron sheets.)
The Band Has Been Around Too Long
(From "When There Is No Road." Because we've decided not to pitch this as an OBCBYL book, it's probably best to back off on any music-related title. Plus I didn't want Gene Simmons to sue me.)
An Old Television Turned Off And Then Back On Quickly
(From "When There Is No Road." It's fucking dumb, that's why.)
And the Way They Swing Around
(From "It's Been Far Too Long Since You Woke Up In Someone Else's Shoes." This one's just not very good, is it? Too vague--they?--and a bit stuffy with that "and" at the beginning. IBFTLSYWUISES was considered as a title, too. Not as an abbreviation, but look at that abbreviation. If that's the short way to write your book's title, you're an asshole.)
Climbing Toward the Sun
(From "Haunt." It was originally about tendrils or vines or whatever, which makes sense. I just can't bring myself to go with any title that could be turned into that of a self-help book by adding "MAKING YOUR LIFE THE BEST LIFE" in the sub-heading.)
How I've Earned My Darkness
(From "After I Threw the Ball At Thomas Hernandez and Before It Killed Him." Sounds like the title of a self-published memoir.)
Whatever You Do
(From I can't remember because it's so generic, and I refuse to go back and check the word doc. Who cares?)
Seven As A Threat
(From "Follow the Water." I must have been tired when I pulled this.)
Long Enough Will Be Long Enough
(From "Follow the Water." Or maybe not too tired, because this one I like. But I'm a bit torn on it. It sounds a bit like a simple truth and a bit like something my mom would have on a magnet on the fridge.)
Bite Off Your Tongue and Tell Me
(From "Follow the Water." This is a paraphrase of the end of the story, and while it sounds cool, it might be a bit too hard for what the book is doing. I do a lot of soft endings, so maybe this stood out for being considerably less soft. And I don't want to give away my punchlines.)
(Again, no idea what the fuck I was thinking.)
(Yep, really grasping here. I think this is from "Signal" but I have no idea. It doesn't matter. We're not going with it.)
(From "Refund." This is one of the few later ones I really liked. The word that keeps coming up when I think about the themes of the collection is "ephemerality." I think Pure Smoke has that built into it, plus it's punchy. Still, it didn't grab me by the collar and tell me it was the title, so onto the burner it goes.)
I Imagine A Few Moments From Now
(This could be from any of the stories, really. No clue.)
You Can Be Twenty Things
(From "Refund." Another paraphrase, this time from dialogue. I was definitely barely awake when pulling this aside.)
You Think of Breathing Out
(From "Things That Are Glacial, Things That Are Gone." I don't mind this one, but it's nothing special. I almost like the title of the story better for the collection title.)
Somewhere in the middle of all this bullshit, I came up with a couple titles that weren't from the text.
Shake Away These Constant Days
Every Day A Juggernaut
After all that deliberation to find something from the text, the two I like the best aren't even from it. "Shake" and "juggernaut" are two of my favorite words--I had planned a solo album years ago called Shake that never happened (the cover was going to be me in the pose from Electric Warrior) and "Juggernaut" is my favorite Rick Bass story.I e-mailed all of this (sans commentary) to Mike at JDP and he once again told me to settle down, that we've reached the point of diminishing returns on new titles, and that we should pick from what we have. This is sound advice, somewhat, which I wouldn't say if I wasn't already partially in love with Shake Away These Constant Days. Barring a rejection from JDP fearless-leader Eirik, that's going to be the title of the book.
What a long, drawn-out process of explanation for no reason.
On the chapbook front--the title of that is going to be Murmuration--I'm about halfway through the second story. It's called "Cool Tits, Moxie" which I'm excited for because writing about strippers is always fun and I haven't used "tits" in a story title since I was in third grade. My band starts recording our first EP and second full length today, so time will now officially be split between writing and rocking, not that I'm trying especially hard at either one.
I'm reading Home Land by Sam Lipsyte right now--The Ask is still waiting--and it's so fucking rad. If I would have had this in high school instead of The Catcher In the Rye, shit would be significantly different.
Also, the older I get, the more I aware I become of how I write, meaning that I can love Lipsyte's stuff and not feel compelled to rip him off. Not all genius is transferable. (I wouldn't mind copping his dialogue, though.)
Okay, we all stopped giving a fuck about what I think somewhere in that title mess. I'm out of here
AFTER I QUICKLY PLUG THE JERSEY DEVIL PRESS KICKSTARTER PAGE FOR THEIR 2012 BOOK COLLECTION, WHICH IS IN NEED OF YOUR HELP. KILLER REWARDS FOR ALL, INCLUDING SUPER SECRET SPECIAL REWARDS FROM ME. DO IT.