A place I go to waste time and put off actually WRITING movie scripts. Join me.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The loneliness of the long-distance... writer?

As writers we are all, in some small way, prepared for and accepting of the fact that writing is a solitary experience. Hell, some of us even do it because it's solitary. For some of us it's a justification of our own innate anti-social tendencies; a necessary evil that just happens to fill a guilt-shaped hole quite nicely.

Quite often we will do our best, be it consciously or sub-consciously, to preserve its solitary nature, finding reasons not to collaborate on something that we know full well may add layers of complexity that we couldn't hope to achieve alone.

And we do it for many reasons, not the least of which is the realisation that the film-making process is so collaborative in virtually every other aspect that we rebel, and attempt to grow that first precious seed in a hermetically-sealed environment. After all we have all grown up knowing what too many cooks do to that broth. And film-making has cooks by the truckload.

Just occasionally, though, the solitary nature of what we as writers do sneaks up on us in that most communal of all film experiences: watching it.

Picture the scene: with some enforced down-time on hand recently I took the opportunity to convince my partner to watch a film that has a particular significance to me. Everyone has their favourites for a myriad reasons, and this one fell into that 'this-made-me-want-to-be-a-writer' category. So we fire up the home theatre gadgetry, dim the lights and succumb to the magic playing out before us in widescreen. A hundred minutes fly by where I share every moment of joy, every shard of pain, my heart racing as the excitement builds to an imaginative and satisfying climax as my partner, reluctant at first, begins to be interested, then entranced and is finally transported alongside me, living out the rollercoaster lives of these characters until ultimately, in a state of mental exhaustion the credits roll and I turn to her and say "Whaddya think?"

A shrug. A turn-up of the lip. "Take it or leave it."

Now, it's not that I'm that much of a film Nazi that I cannot handle others having differing opinions to mine. (Stop that mumbling at the back, thank you!) I have had my fair share (or perhaps more than my fair share) of film arguments with friends and a relatively low percentage have actually graduated to physical altercations. Everyone has different views on stuff. But this one was quantifiably different. Sub-consciously this was my way of saying "This is what I wish I could do". And in that one simple phrase, "Take it or leave it", I realised that if I became that writer I want so much to be then that'd be all I could ever hope to get. A shrug.

Most of us, deep down, look for acceptance from others in almost everything that we do, especially from those that we care about the most. As writers we risk our loved ones due to protracted periods of enforced solitude, perhaps in the hope that the finished product might somehow pay back that disregard in other, more meaningful ways. The strange thing is that that meaningful payback is likely to come from someone else, not from yourself. In my example, my partner's payback comes from Louis de Bernieres, Kazuo Ishiguro and, of course, J.K. Rowling.

Thanks guys. Hope I can return the favour someday...



Blogger Grubber said...

Yep, the shrug is always so encouraging. Gotta love the shrug! ;-)

9:25 AM

Blogger James said...

I reckon it's the highest form of praise from people who just don't understand.

It's not their fault, the poor things...


11:25 PM

Anonymous Jak said...

Hi James,

Just stumbled upon your blog, from one of the other rather brand-new Aussie screenwriter blogs I found this morning.

Just wanted to say that I've enjoyed what I've read so far and look forward to hearing some words of wisdom from you :) I need them!


11:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey James,

Was the movie Star Wars? I bet it was, i tried the same thing for my partner... same reaction.

Mind you though my reaction to Jar Jar was similar. It did involve movement of my lip... then to a quiver.... then i maybe shed a tear. *Dan curses George and shakes his fist in damnation at the rabbit/frog like creation!!*

Also i reckon its cool that other Aussie writers are stumbling across your blog James. Sounds like there is a pretty big community of writers out there with oodles of creativity. I for one am not a writer by the way, however I enjoy reading works from James as i find them entertainig and see the journey his creative peices take ;) .

Anywho, catchya later James.

Dan :)

5:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To each their own. Thank God there are different genres of film is all I can say. Some people love Sc-Fi while others hate it but love Period films instead. I've found writing interesting myself. I've written two short films, both complete contrasts to each other and the audience response has been very interesting. While one had won an award it was the other that got more critical acclaim. Can't please everyone. Humans are very interesting creatures wouldn't you say?

That Jar Jar was just plain wrong. But...the kiddies loved him and that's exactly what George set out to do. He wanted to please the kiddies with a new character but in doing so he seriously disappointed us long time fans. Some people like it, some don't. Once again you can't please everyone.

Good blog James.


4:57 PM

Blogger James said...

Thanks all. It's nice to feel appreciated...


11:08 PM

Blogger M said...

Can I stand up and defend all vicitimised girlfriends in this blog realm? Your films are boring guys...to us! If you want to say "This is what I want to do" then say it...to our face. Don't torture us with hours of 1980's bad special effects and expect us to get it...we won't! What we love most is just being beside you as your eyes light up and you become child-like again... and then pee a little! :)

3:09 PM

Anonymous Luci said...

The question is: is the film you love really good, or do you love it for nostalgic reasons?

I've got a few favs that still stir things in me, even though I know 100% that if I watched it for the first time today I would have a completely different opinion. It's hard when your loved one rejects the films that make your heart pound, partly because it feels like they're judging you, but let's face it: Dirty Dancing is a crap movie. I can't expect him to feel what I did as a twelve year old girl watching Patrick Swayze sway those hips. Likewise, I stand by my *shrug* opinion of Star Wars.

1:08 AM


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