Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"A Writer Writes, Always"

I find myself today thinking about this scene from "Throw Momma From the Train." It's a movie I love about a blocked writer, played by Billy Crystal, who is teaching creative writing to Danny DeVito. Billy Crystal has an ex-wife who stole his latest manuscript and with it, the accolades and paycheck that should rightfully have been his. Danny DeVito is a naive man-boy continually beaten down by his overbearing, bitter, and spiteful mother. When Crystal takes pity on DeVito and tries to help him with his writing, DeVito misinterprets his advice as a business proposition: if he kills Crystal's hated ex-wife, Crystal will return the favor and violently deliver him from Momma. Chaos (and hilarity) ensue.
*warning* the clip I've linked to shows an excerpt from Crystal's class at the beginning of the movie, and includes some suggestive dialogue that may be offensive (the f-word was originally used, but before release, the studio overdubbed it with "pork"--so you see Billy Crystal mouth it, but hear a different word)
I've been trying to structure a novel, and I've learned that writing his horrible. Sometimes inspiration pierces through so clearly that you can just picture your chalet next to J.K. Rowling's house after the world realizes your brilliance. And other times you're forced to think that even though you disdain the Twilight series, Stephanie Meyer is still just a much better writer than you will ever be.
I'm not setting out to write the great American novel. While objectively, I think that my premise is no better or worse than anything else that does get published, I wonder if other writers have this gut-wrenching self-loathing when they think about their work. I wonder if Stephen King, when he's writing his latest novel that I will show no interest in outwardly and then secretly devour, ever stops to think, "This is sooo contrived!"
Anyway, at this point I've got a really rudimentary idea of plot. I have to just remember to write what I'm interested in--not keep thinking about who my target audience should be. Which sounds a little backwards (at least it goes against everything I've ever been taught about writing) but the thought of writing for people to read makes my throat close up, so it's probably healthier to stick with the backwards way for now.
As I'm writing this post, I keep looking up at this black speck on the ceiling. I can't tell if it's a spider or just a random fleck of something--that's the worst part about having bad eyesight. It's not moving, so that's a point for fleck, but if it's a fleck, how did it get there?? I want Brandon to come check it out but I don't want to seem like a wuss or interrupt his flow (he's video game-creating now). But if I check it out and it is a spider, then I run the risk of it being an angry jumping spider and having it jump on my face when I reach up to smoosh it with a kleenex. This is way more compelling than my writing dilemma. It's between me and the door. What if it drops down on to me when I try to leave.....???

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