I've been stuck in a rut with novel #2. The publishers of #1 had first option on it; we sent it along to them and the option deadline came... and went. Our polite enquiries went unanswered: the house was running flat out trying to save its own life and I suppose minor matters like option deadlines didn't even register on their redlining priority meter. Finally, my agent withdrew the book from them. I proceeded to make one (admittedly half-hearted) submission to an e-first publisher who politely declined.
This was the point where I was supposed to gird the loins and get back in the fight, send the book out to the markets and keep sending until someone either bought it or I ran out of places to submit. What actually happened was that I lost the motivation, the energy, the incredible faith that writers must have to keep working and submitting despite all the negative realities of the business. I was no longer a bright-eyed initiate; instead of getting back on the horse I spent a hell of a lot of time wondering whether the ride was even worth it.
I tried to get going. I really did. But every time I opened the file and saw the title, it looked at me with sadness and reproach; I felt the weight of all the negatives descend on my shoulders.
Half the time I don't know what the heck my subconscious is playing at, but I'm learning to trust it even at its wackiest. Last week it began bugging me when the novel was the furthest thing from my mind. Change the title, it kept whispering in my ear, from inside my head at that. Change the title! How about this one for starters? And the new title came to me, bright and new and enticing, unblemished by any history or heaviness.
I had the flu and was not in the most receptive mood. But it kept insisting so I went in there, opened up the files, changed the title. And something weird happened. While going through the process of changing the title, the old excitement - about the story, about the process - came back, just a flash at first. Then it grew. And grew. Changing the title, it seems, tricked my mind in such a way that the heaviness and negative associations from the past year that the old title would call forth were nowhere in evidence when I looked at the new title. The upshot? I'm back in the game - wary, not trusting it much, but back at work.
So, what's in a name? Only a deep connection between what we label an object and the experiences we associate with said object. Want to change those associations? Go ahead. Change that name.