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...