Ernest Hemingway is good value on the process of writing. Here he’s struggling to find a title for one of his books. This is what he wrote to Scott Fitzgerald in 1927.
“I could get no title, Fitz, run through Ecclesiastics (sic) though I did. Perkins, perhaps you’ve met him, wanted a title for the book. So I being up in Gstaad went around all the bookstores that I could trying to buy a bible in order to get a title but all the sons of bitches had to sell were little carved brown wood bears. So for a time I thought of dubbing the book The Little Carved Wood Bear and then listening to the critics explanations. Fortunately there happened to be a Church of England clergyman in town who was leaving the next day and Pauline borrowed a bible off him … Well, Fitz, I looked all through that bible, it was in very fine print and stumbling on that great book Ecclesiastics (sic) read it aloud to all who would listen. Soon I began cursing the bloody bible because there were no titles in it although I found the source of practically every good title you ever heard of. But the boys, principally Kipling, had been there before me and swiped all the good ones so I called the book Men without Women …
ERNEST HEMINGWAY SELECTED LETTERS
Men without Women? Ernest get a grip! He had some fantastic titles to his books: Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, To Have and Have Not.
But Men without Women?
He just wasn’t trying very hard, was he? He should have stuck with The Little Carved Wooden Bear and enjoyed watching the critics trying to work it out.