I updated my Facebook status some time ago saying that the hardest part of writing my dissertation might be giving it a title. Now, with the paper itself almost finished, I stand by that statement. I stand firmly by that statement.
It’s such a small thing, and yet it’s so important to the overall success of a piece of writing. The words of the title are the first that your reader sees, and, in the case of published work, they might determine whether or not your writing gets read at all. That’s not such a concern in my case, since the markers are pretty much stuck with my dissertation, but the title is still an important form of first impression. During high school, one of my favourite English teachers taught me that the title is your signature on a piece of writing–it signals ownership of the work. It’s advice that has stuck with me throughout my academic career thus far, and I have no intention of failing her on the most important piece of writing I’ve ever done.
And yet. The paper is nearly finished, and I have no idea what the title is going to be. Seriously. No idea. I have mined quotations, read my notes, read poetry, read crappy online articles, spent time away from the dissertation, spent time staring at the dissertation, and I still have yet to be hit by a bolt of titular inspiration.
Fingers crossed for a lighting storm over the next couple of days.