Oh, the glamour of it all ….

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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.

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What’s your favorite movie about a writer?  Or better yet, tell us about your oh-so-very glamorous writing life.

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43 thoughts on “Oh, the glamour of it all ….

  1. Paul Lamb

    The Ghost Writer, a PBS adaptation of the Philip Roth novel of the same name. Absolutely the truest thing I’ve ever seen (or read) about the responsibility to the craft above all else. (I’ve read the novel more than twenty times!)

    At the other extreme, maybe Something’s Gotta Give with Diane Keaton as a writer who is shown in ridiculous “bursts” of creativity, as though that is how 100,000 words get strung together.

    1. Teri Post author

      Paul, I can’t tell you how excited I am to read your comment — I never knew The Ghost Writer had been made into a film, and it is, by far, one of the smartest stories I’ve ever read. It’s stunning how Roth gets so much riveting, complex story and character into that very short book. I’m off to find PBS version!

    1. Deb

      My husband showed up from one of his trips with Midnight in Paris in hand, proclaiming I had to watch it. Thanks for the reminder that sometimes he does get it right!

      As far as glamour, I did shower today so that’s something. I’m swimming in a gray sweatshirt that fit me at least two sizes ago and sports some mysterious yellow shadow front and center, and a pair of jeans that are too worn to be sylish even if the name on the tag is, and also verging on a size too big. Total glam puss!

      1. Teri Post author

        You’re way ahead of me, Deb. I believe the time for me to shower today has come and gone, and god forbid I wash my hair and dress in going-out-in-public-clothes, lest my husband comes home and doesn’t recognize me for being so “put together.”

        Besides, I’m still swirling the same sentences, round and round and round…. Who has time to shower?

    1. Teri Post author

      I’m going to have to watch Wonder Boys again — I saw it when it first came out and remembering liking it, but that must be a good decade ago. What a cast, that movie.

  2. Erika Marks

    Oh, SIDEWAYS–no question! I have watched that movie a zillion times and for many years during the querying process and the waiting process and that movie nails it on so many levels. I could (and probably will) watch it a million more times. There is so much in it to love. The chemistry between Paul G. and THC is genius. (“New ending VASTLY superior to the old ending…”)

    It has been years since I’ve seen MISERY but I do remember that cigarette when he finished–and loving the idea of that singular smoke to celebrate.

    Gah, I’m with you on that SECRET WINDOW. I wanted desperately to love that movie, opened my heart wide for it and found myself so disappointed.

    I remember liking ADAPTATION… and Matt Dillon made a movie about Bukowski that I recall being intrigued by but I don’t recall him writing much in it.

    Now I’m wanting a movie marathon!!

    1. Teri Post author

      Erika, I’m always up for a movie marathon. This post and the comments will do everything to get me lining movies right up. I’m looking forward to seeing the ones people have listed here in there comments.

      And yes, my gosh, I was so sad to about that Johnny Depp movie —- I mean, who doesn’t want to love them some Johnny Depp?

  3. Jennine G.

    At least I got a good haircut out of it all. Charlise Theron’s hair was a little bit shorter than mine and I had to one up her.

    I liked Midnight in Paris.

    1. Teri Post author

      Hahaha! Thanks for making me laugh, Jennine. And come on, we all know there’s nothing (nothing) like a good haircut, so that makes The Oscars a success. 🙂

      Midnight in Paris is on top of my list, along with The Ghost Writer — TGW being one of the smartest stories I’ve ever read.

    1. Teri Post author

      I bet you look cute as a button. What does that saying mean, by the way? Where does it come from? You’re cuter than any old button, bed-head or no.

  4. Lyra

    How I loved Sideways! But truly, Midnight in Paris is my movie. I have seen it so many times I can’t even count. Can you imagine spending the last however many years working on a fictional book that involves Scott and Zelda and then coming across a movie where you see them? I hold out hope that it was a sign that Woody and I are in some sort of sync. Which, now that I think about it, kind of frightens me as well.

    1. Jennine G.

      Oh I know! And there’s a biography coming out March 26th called “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald,” by Therese Anne Fowler. I imagine it’s going to be good – Zelda was crazy!

    2. Teri Post author

      I’m so looking forward to your book! And no, I can’t imagine that. You and Woody are working under the same moon — that can’t be bad, right?

  5. Lyra

    Oh, and my writing life…nitty gritty chaos. Move this word, scratch out that paragraph, add that word, change the year, change the name, change the main character, well, you get the idea.

  6. Catherine

    Oh ‘The Shining’. Not the type of writer I want to become though. I’m not sure I like films about writers really, too disturbing or too close/far from the bone. It IS so hard to convey writerliness because it is all in the head. And I hate those silly concoctions of Sylvia Plath or Virginia Woolf.

    1. Teri Post author

      I always feel like it’s so romanticized — though what isn’t? — and that’s why everybody and their sister wants to write a book. You sit at your desk in your pajamas, day in, day out, drink coffee all day and bourbon all night, nobody bothering you, and in the end you’ve got yourself a book.

      That’s how it works, right?

    1. Teri Post author

      I admit, I didn’t love her famous book, but I’ve loved every interview I’ve ever seen of her and wish her well.

  7. LauraMaylene

    I liked Wonder Boys and Sideways and haven’t seen some of the others you mentioned, so I’ll have to get on that. But my favorite is Capote! Love that movie.

    I was in the library’s video section yesterday and came across Howl. I was tempted to borrow it for the writerly aspect, but James Franco? I don’t know. I just couldn’t.

    1. Teri Carter

      Ooooh, Capote. Yes! And now that I’m thinking about Phillip Seymour Hoffman, there’s The Talented Mr. Ripley — not about a writer, but the Marge character is a writer.

  8. Josey

    i know, i know. i’m later than a mother fucker, but fuck it…here’s my list:
    Almost Famous–Philip Seymour Hoffman’s advice to a young Cameron Crowe…so perfect
    Adaptation (there is so much i love about this movie, i can’t remember where to start)
    sophie’s choice
    limitless (i’m a sucker for bradley cooper, sue me)
    All the President’s Men (how much did you swoon after seeing Cheryl Strayed’s picture w/ Robert Redford???
    Julie and Julia (not just a writer, but a blogger!)
    Shakespeare in Love (I also kinda dug that movie last year about Shakespeare actually being some Duke…who was the incestuous love child of Queen Elizabeth…I know, but I liked it)
    Oh–and Heartburn (Nora, Nora) AND World According to Garp (for some reason these two movies fit together in my head b/c I watched them close together in my life back before I could fully understand what either of them were really about)
    All of Wes Anderson’s movies (they all have writers), but especially the Fantastic Mr. Fox
    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (this is in my top 10 of most favorite movies of all time…but so is wes anderson)
    Bridget Jones Diary (the first one)

    …i’m sure there’s more. i’ll be back if i think of any.

    1. Teri Carter

      The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was so damned good, and heartbreaking. I loved that book. And thanks for the reminder about Heartburn — I’ve never seen it (I know!) so it’s on the list now too.

  9. Pamela

    Right now my writing life consists of emails to one of my best friends who lives in Red River. I’ve saved our correspondence in a file that dates back to October of 1999, back when she was my boss. (cyber-hoarding) If nothing else, I have proof of writing daily, to someone I love very much. Beyond that, I’m still on a writing hiatus and deep into reading for the next few months. There’s zero glamour — just tumbling laundry, FedEx trips, going to and from work, and Dalworth cleaning.

    1. Teri Carter

      Which brings up an interesting point about personal correspondence in the computer/email age. It saddens me that no one will be able to find a pile of grandma’s letters in the attic anymore. Glad to hear you’re saving yours, Pamela.

  10. girl in the hat

    Wonder Boys. That scene when his inflated book gets blown away in the wind. I can still see the pages flapping like dumb pigeons. And I can’t remember the name of the movie but I can see this typewriter that comes to life, a huge beetle-like typewriter, a cockroach-writer. And a close up of the page in Jack Nicholson’s typewriter in the Shining, “all work and no play…”. Writing is not a spectator sport, for sure, but writing about writing can be fascinating.

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