I hate coming up with titles for things. I mean, occasionally, there are situations where a title just seems really right. But in my experience, when that happens (like in the case of my second novel or every band I've ever been in) the primacy of the title led to really sucky content.
Most of the time, though, I'd rather just call the thing by a number, or a rough description of its contents.
So I find it troubling that there seems to be such a strong presumption in the contemporary educational/creative climate that a title is a mandatory part of a work. Like, if you fail to come up with a creative title, you have failed to write an essay/story/poem.
Which seems sort of unfair to me, because it seems obvious to me (and apparently no on else) that writing a title is a completely different artform.
Titling things is closer akin to haiku or epigram than it is similar to writing an exploratory essay. I don't need for my titles to speak deeply to the resonant depths of my work.*
I recently lost points on two essays (which I got back at the same time, and so didn't have time to adjust) for titling both of them, "On '[name of the poem that is the subject of this essay]' by [name of the person who wrote that poem]". I'm not entirely happy about this, though I understand why I lost those points, because in my ideal college experience I would title all of my papers with the course number (e.g. ENG101) followed by a dash and a number code indicating which paper that is. So, ENG101-5, or ENG101-12/8/2011. Followed by a name, or even just my student ID because all those numbers jammed up next to each other
(not my real student ID) has an aesthetically pleasing impersonality to it, and would make me feel more comfortable with the idea that my expression is coming through in the prose itself, the work that is the flesh of the assignment, rather than an overt acknowledgement of the specific authorship** and a flashy or not-so-flashy opening in a brief, arguably witty and definitely irrelevant poetic form.
For the record, in my head, I'm totally writing this in the voice of author/vlogger John Green, of the Vlogbrothers. It is appropriate to read it while imagining that I am talking way too fast really close to the camera.
*And, by the way, that's another thing that bothers me about it -- the title-obsessed crowd seem to always be the same people who insist that the author can't comment on their work, which supports my contention that they don't really believe the writer can't comment, they just believe that it's mandatory that they do it in obscure, arcane ways like trying to make a symbolism keystone out of the title or writing other works that are meant to clarify the positions being misinterpreted in other works. But that's another day's rant. ** I'm not supporting death of the author here but I do think that in an academic setting it's better to focus on the work itself than the authorship when evaluating it for credit.