My short screenplay, “Arthur Miller Walks into a Bar,” was published in The Versus Anthology several years ago.
I’ve posted the script here for student filmmakers who are interested in producing it. The short film cannot be made for profit—no copies can be sold—but I grant student filmmakers the right to produce the script for class projects, demo reels, and film festivals. My only other stipulations: Student filmmakers must inform me of their plans before shooting begins, and I must be sent a final cut of the film.
I have been thinking a lot about titles lately, more than usual. I’m not sure why. I am now in charge of an imprint of literary fiction for young adults, and one of the first books I signed needed a new title. There was much back-and-forth about titles until we settled on one that works. Now comes the news that forthcoming novels by Jill McCorkle and Kate Atkinson will have the same title: Life After Life. And when you Google that phrase, you’ll first learn about a book Raymond Moody published in the 1970s that sold 20 million copies.
In an undergraduate class I took at Purdue, I remember admonishing a classmate for using the title of a just-released Sarah McLachlan single (a #1 single, I believe) for the title of her workshop story. I felt she wasn’t even trying. Much later, I used the title of a David Bowie song for one of my own stories, since published as a stand-alone chapbook. But that title, I felt, was broad enough to make it OK. Plus, the characters’ lives revolve around music, and the different Bowie eras, including the song from which I stole my title, play a role in the couple’s central conflict. They even drive through (or near) Bowie, Arizona, during a road trip. I was at least trying a little bit, yes?
I wonder what other writers think. Wouldn’t you be pissed if you wrote a book and found out another book with the same title was being released within weeks of yours? But, then, if you took your title from a famous, bestselling book of nonfiction published nearly 40 years ago, wouldn’t you think you had no right to complain?
The title story of Naked Summer was called, in its first draft, “Gravity”—until I saw another writer had already used that title. And, over the years, another and another and another. It’s like every writer has a story titled “Gravity” because it’s so damn heavy, brother. Heavy deep super-deep important shit happens in this story, man. Deep.
Very glad I changed that title. Another title of mine that I love, which I will use, was also the title of a play about thirty years ago. I’ve known this since first drafting the story in 1999, because Amazon already existed back then and you could search for other books easily. That play has continued to fall out of the public eye, and by the time my novella and the book it will appear in are published, people won’t really know about the play. Or that’s my hope, anyway.