While there were many things to fuss-bucket about regarding The Oscars on Sunday night —- that strange boobs song with a 9 yr old nominee in the front row, the First Lady giving an award to a movie about hostages in Iran, the interminable length —- there’s one clip I remember most fondly: the tape of the late Nora Ephron saying, The hardest thing about writing is writing.
There also appeared, on the same Sunday, this NYT essay on movies about writers: Wonder Boys, Misery, Adaptation, The Shining, Stranger than Fiction, etc…. My favorite writerly movie is, by far, MISERY. I could watch it a bazillion times even if I still have to turn away and press the mute button when Annie ax/hammers Paul’s ankles. My least favorite, the one where I worship Johnny Depp on the screen for 2 hours while wondering what in the hell the story is about, is THE SECRET WINDOW. And wait a minute, I have another one I swoon over, SIDEWAYS, though I admit I love it far less for the writer-character than for his hapless travel companion, the brilliant Thomas Hayden Church.
What struck me most in the NYT essay was this: What [writers] are not shown doing in movies is writing. Composers are shown composing because we can listen to their flights of fancy on the soundtrack. Painters are shown painting, because one can actually see art in progress …. I suppose there’s nothing visually dramatic in what we do, though we can get quite worked up about crumpling little balls of paper, tossing them on the floor ….
I can promise you this holds true as I sit here in a far-flung corner of a far-flung bedroom trying to tackle a far-flung idea that I’m sure resides somewhere in my own head, at a tiny table barely big enough to hold my laptop, twirling the same six ridiculous paragraphs ’round and ’round, do si do, when those six ridiculous paragraphs will likely, in the end, get the Annie Wilkes ax. At least if I were painting, I’d have an impressive, colorful mess to show for it.
What’s your favorite movie about a writer? Or better yet, tell us about your oh-so-very glamorous writing life.