Tonight, we’re waiting for snow to fall here in the west of Ireland. It’s still a bit early for a White Christmas, but you never know – once it gets here, it might decide to stay. Snow that is, not Christmas (although the shops have been flogging all things festive since the end of the summer holidays, or so it seems).
I thought I’d get ahead of the posse with my snowman picture taken several winters ago. I couldn’t remember if we gave him a name, then discovered the photograph was labelled ‘Baldy the Snowman’. There’s no end to my family’s creativity. I mean, we called the seventh cat to join our household … Seven. Ingenious, eh?
Is is any wonder then, that I find titles for poems and stories difficult? REALLY difficult. I have a poem about my late father that people who have heard it like – except for the title. So far, the poor little poem has had nine (yes, really) titles. And I’m still not sure I’ve arrived at the definitive one. The poem is awaiting some judge’s decision in a competition, so I won’t say any more about that one, but I’ve heard it said that titles can make or break a piece.
In an article about writing short stories published by the Bath Short Story Award organisers, writer Tessa Hadley said, back in 2013: ‘A title clinches something, it crisps the story up and seals it like a top on a bottle.’ I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Meanwhile, I am steeling myself (and sharpening the calculator) to do the end of year sums. For each of the past three years I have tried to send out 100 submissions – that’s competition entries, magazine and publishing submissions, grants and bursary applications. It’s a lot of words posted (ah sure, doesn’t An Post need the business?) or fired off into cyberspace. I didn’t get anywhere near the century in 2015 or 2016, but so far this year I’m at 96 and counting.
The acid test is to punch numbers into the calculator and work out how much this writing lark has cost me, and if I got enough back (my Arts Council award will help bump up the figures). This year’s statistics might just be the tipping point to make me take up knitting again. Or bird watching. Or deep-sea diving. Or moon walking. Or kitchen floor cleaning.
Heck no, what a daft idea – I’m going to have to stick with the writing!