It’s been a funny ole year, 2012, during whose 365 days, or, as it may be, 366, I have spent much of the time acting as a test subject for psychoactive drugs.
The citalopram that had kept the demons away for years finally gave up the struggle in February. Mirtazapine was tried and failed with a bang; sertraline, more with a whimper, even when propped up with pericyazine. I am now ramping up on venlafaxine, still popping the pericyazine. That’s
three five different antipsychotics in less than a year. No wonder I feel tired.
And thereby hangs a tale.
Perhaps the trickiest part of writing a book is getting the right title. If you are lucky, you’ll come up with a title that hits the bullseye. When Crox Minima came up with that golden phrase Defiant the Guinea-Pig: Firefighter! the story practically wrote itself. On the other hand, the book that I wrote that began its synopsis as Dinosaurs Don’t Climb Trees was named in the eventual publishing contract as Thirty Ghosts but was eventually published as In Search of Deep Time. It is similarly rumoured that when Paul McCartney wrote a tune for a haunting ballad but didn’t immediately find inspirations for the words to go with it, he gave it the title of Scrambled Egg. ‘Scrambled Egg’, he would croon, presumably to Lennon’s irritation, ‘All I ever want is Scrambled Egg’. But that was Yesterday.
Similarly in like fashion, the book I’ve recently finished for the University of Chicago Press was to have been called The Beowulf Effect. I liked that name, but it only applied properly to a small part of the book rather than encapsulerating the whole thing, so I came up with The Human Error, which seemed more in tune with the subject, which is human exceptionalism and our perhaps understandable if erroneous tendency to inflate our own importance. The publishers liked that more, but came up with something which we all agree is a finer moniker, and that’s
- roll of drums -
- clears throat -
As luck would have it, Mrs Crox has just passed me the phone from which has issued the cheery voice of the copy editor, who’s been through the lot and wants to email me the edits. So – we’re off!
Even later than the title, people decide on the cover. The one I have here is just a placeholder. No doubt the ‘real’ one will be different.