Titles, as I may have pointed out, are the hardest part of writing for me. When I get to the end of a story, usually the file is still mocking me, saying "Untitled" in its stupid Calibri font, and letting me know that - once again - I'm in for a long night of agony as I try to figure out what the hell to name the bloody thing.
I know, I know. I'm weird.
When I'm reading short story collections, which I've been doing all year, I've noticed that quite often the title of the anthology is also the title of one of the stories. In a real and wonderful way, this gives me so much hope that some day, if I ever release a collection of short fiction of my very own, that I can take one of those titles and save myself the agony.
Just the once.
"Mortal Clay, Stone Heart," by Eugie Foster
This story is the title piece - and final story - in Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White. Foster's collection is brilliant, and ends with this wonderful story, set at the time of China's first emperor, told by a woman who sculpts and fires clay sculpture.
I only learned of this collection because of a blog post by Foster about her recent cancer diagnosis and the reality of treatment costs and so I bought her collections to help out in my own little way. Since then, I've finished this collection and - I'll say it again - it's brilliant.
Love, sculpture, clay, magic, philosophy, history and a bittersweet mix of life and death. This story has all of this, and brings the collection to a close with complete satisfaction.