I thought I had it. A clever evocative title with a double meaning. During two years of research and writing for a novel based on events in the life of my father, W. Lon Hutchison, I used the title: Life Expectancy.
The term Life Expectancy could refer to what people expect from life or to a statistical average of how long someone might expect to live.
Two years after I chose the title, I decided to do a web search to find out more about the definitions of life expectancy.
In 2004, Dean Koontz, a well-known USA suspense/horror writer wrote a bestseller titled Life Expectancy. The book by Koontz, has a listing on Wikipedia. Rolling Stone hailed Koontz as “America’s most popular suspense novelist.”
Why didn’t any of the writers and bloggers’ tips that I’d read advise me to check if there already was a book with the title I wanted to use?
I’d written a draft of the book with the title Life Expectancy, had prepared queries to send to several publishers, purchased the domain name lifeexpectancy.info and was ready to launch a blog about writing the book.
Everything came to a dead stop. Better late than never.
I had to find another title. Meanwhile I felt as if my writing project no longer existed, had disappeared, becoming a vague memory of something never completed.
Where to get inspiration for another title?
Online, I read
- all of Woody Guthrie’s lyrics,
- phrases from Shakespeare and
- a list of songs recorded by Johnny Cash.
I re-read some of my favorite poetry books by Kenneth Patchen, Gary Snyder, Eleanor Lerman…
A month of searching, hoping that a title would find me. No luck.
How did you choose a title for your writing?
Have you checked to make sure no one else is using that title?