Open Thread

Open Thread Update: Title Your Autobiography

Photo by Guillermo Velarde on Unsplash

Last time we asked readers to share their thoughts on autobiographies and possible titles. Turns out several had something to say.

Ready Nancy P. weighed in on several topics but can be summed up here…

It is important to write our memories of how things used to be.

…and she thinks her title could be “Nine Lives and Counting”…

Make sure you read the rest of her insightful comments.

Who’s the crowd pleaser?  Hands down it’s Marie…

I’m writing my autobiography and the name of it is Buttercups and Daisies. Its about growing up in Ireland in the 1940’s.


Reader Paul G., Sr offers some good advice for would-be autobiographers, so check out his comments and look up “Defining Moments” on LinkedIn.

Make sure you read all the comments, including the gripping story by  Barbara T. about healthcare battles, her own and others – like Henrietta Lacks.  She’d call it
“pHARMed: Healing the Shackles of the Past.”

It’s my tribute to the Henrietta Lacks family, Tuskegee Syphilis.experiment and all the other still unknown injuries inflicted on Black, Brown and Indigenous people and justified by the “doctrine of discovery.”

We’ll keep the comments open for a while – please share your title and why you chose them!

Original Column below:

The focus on “Spare” – the autobiography of the man formerly called Prince – got me thinking.  His main credential is being the embodiment of the Lucky Sperm Club.  If he was the son of the operator of a bowling alley, few people would care…but at least he could use the same title.

I’ve always tried to live my life focused on considering the downside risk. However, every so often I tell myself “Nine times out of ten I do the safe thing. What about the tenth time?”

The tenth time is when I roll the dice.  The results are the more interesting, hair raising, or satisfying stories: the close shaves, narrow escapes, windfalls, heartbreaks, catastrophes, winning streaks.  That’s why I’d call my autobiography “The Tenth Time.”

Like the time in my college dorm when I uncharacteristically decided not to leave the joint on my desk and stuck it in a drawer. I just got a hinky feeling.

I returned from my errand, looked down the hall (my room was the last one, right next to the stairwell), and saw cops walking in and out of my room.

WOW. Turns out that someone deployed the fire extinguishers in the hallway and the cops – I was told, at least – were checking all the rooms near the hallway for the missing fire extinguisher. Talk about a close shave/narrow escape/lucky break!

But that’s me. What about you? What close shave would inspire your autobiography title? Let us know in the comments!

Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send  Open Thread suggestions to

Photo by Guillermo Velarde on Unsplash


16 responses to “Open Thread Update: Title Your Autobiography

  1. I am now retired but I worked for the City a few blocks east of the former site of the World Trade Center. I had a compressed schedule and would use the Borders bookstore at 5 World Trade as a combination breakfast nook and lending library. One morning, I cut my breakfast short in order to go down to my office and firm up a presentation. About an hour later, we were called into the Director’s office and asked to watch the closed-circuit TV: there, we saw what looked like a plane crashing into

  2. I’m a 69-year-old quad with severe Cerebral Palsy and wrote my own biography with a head stick during 2007-2010.

    It tells about my childhood, schooling, travels and up to my marriage in 1996.
    I think it is a very interesting book, because it shows what the human being is capable of.

    My book is titled “Beyond The Wheelchair.”

  3. Maybe my title could be “Nine Lives and Counting?”. I have lived so many places, for so many reasons: sometimes to honor existence, sometimes to defy it, sometimes to lose myself, sometimes to find myself, sometimes to open a door, sometimes to close a door. What has this nomad learned after 71 years? Maybe there is a story here. The story could start at the end. When I ask myself: Who are you? Where is your home? Are you settled now? Are you satisfied?

    1. Mine is (I’m writing now) Lessons I learned. Maybe I will add lessons. I learned that changed my life. I had a very unique birth, and a brilliant with a biological mother and adopted mother and her stepmother. There is a great story right there.

  4. Great idea for looking back in life and at the same time learning how we actually might be coloring our years with either negative or positive attitudes. This could be a start for self-growth at a later stage in life,and a chance to perhaps correct ways of thinking ,if necessary. Survival is a privilege ..?

  5. The Open Thread of getting a title for one’s autobiography is quite a coincidence; I’m applying something similar for my kid brother to write his autobiography.
    He’s had the rare opportunity in his distinguished career to report to both Gen. Colin Powell, and to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
    For anyone in terested in getting started w their own autobiography, recommend reading the article (a five minute read) with title of :
    “Defining Moments: What are yours ?”
    P J Gammarano, Sr.

    1. Yes, I agree that by focussing on “defining moments,” we not only do some compelling writing that others can relate to, but we pull our lives together, and make sense of it all, which can not necessarily be finding the person we thought we were, but discovering that we are someone much more interesting, creative, complex, successful, admirable … . A lot of people say they have lived a simple life, but life is never simple, is it?

  6. I was harmed by prescription drugs and medical gaslighting. My title would be “pHARMed: Healing the Shackles of the Past.” It’s my tribute to the Henrietta Lacks family, Tuskegee Syphilis.experiment and all the other still unknown injuries inflicted on Black, Brown and Indigenous people and justified by the “doctrine of discovery.”

    1. Unfortnately, ALL of us (humans) are a part of that ongoing “experiment” of Rx drugs and their effects–both positive (healing) and negative (can be lethal), going across every demographic, and despite FDA regulations & other “guidelines”/requirements.
      Your expression “medical gaslighting” can be quite true, and there is the never-ending challenge for us all to try ask the timely questions concerning the medical treatments we are given, or such medically planned treatment.
      PJG,Sr,; MA, JD

    2. I understand somewhat. I find too much “health care” has little to do with deep healing and durable wellness. It sounds as if you have figured ways of moving on with “self -discovery and independence from a medical world that does not meet your personal needs. I am happy for you.

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