Life, or something like it.
Being a writer, I understand the need for universiality, that feeling that the movie’s main message somehow applies to the lives of every family member. “Life As a House?” No problem. For the divorced couple it is about reconcilation. For a terminal or chronic patient, hope and living in the face of death. Teenagers? The angst of growing up. Even “EuroTrip”, a teen-grossout flick has some sense of applicability to life. “Making out with your sister is a bad thing,” it might say to the fifteen-year-old brother of a cheerleader on the Varsity squad.
I try not to find these little things when I watch a movie. But I simply cannot help it. Those who know me and my situation personally will understand why a friend of mine has taken to calling me “Peter Pan” after seeing the J. M. Barrie biopic “Finding Neverland” the other day. I certainly sympathized with Ray Charles’s need to tune out once in a while. We’re both artists, after all, who are focused on creating images and emotions with words. (Not the easiest task in the world.) But there it is. Movies. Forgive the pun, but movies can move us in ways that the written word cannot.
Yet I write fiction. Not screenplays, though I think that that is a format I would one day like to explore, but short stories. Novels, even. And recently, after three years (the last year and a half of which was torture), I completed my novel. Working endlessly, laboring at the keyboard over plot points as grand as “Should she die now, or later in chapter 33?” and as minute as “should this be a definitive article here or let the noun stand by itself?” I always made fun of my high school English teacher’s insistence that writers intended symbolism and thougth about details. After the last three years, I definitely understand how tremendously in error I stood.
Sol Stein once wrote that, to be a successful writer, one must be willing to open a vein and bleed onto the page. I thought that I had done this for three years. However, I gave a copy of my manuscript to a friend (perhaps a very good friend, if this rewrite works) to read and comment. When he finished, he passed me six pages of single-spaced, typed notes. And one stunning pronouncment: while the novel has a good story, it’s not an ‘adult’ novel but rather, young adult.
Thus it is that I have set out on a rewrite — a massive rewrite — of my entire book. I project that it should be done by the end of the summer, but we’ll see. Over the next few weeks and months, I’m sure I’ll have interesting things to report from the world of publishing. And yes, I promise to post more regularly. Until next time, I’m at the keyboard writing.