Unintended Consequences of Writing # 1: Fangirl

 So, I’m a late bloomer. Or maybe, I like to take my time checking out social phenomena before I decide to risk embarrassment.

Barnabas Collins–I never quite got it.
My first love-Michael Cole

When I was a girl, back in the Dark Ages of the Dark Shadows TV series and the live-action Batman, my peers were gaga for Barnabas Collins (don’t know the actor) and Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin) and whoever else was the flavor of the month. They bought the teen magazines and tabloids and did the whole teeny-bopper squeal thing. Oh, and the Monkees and Davy Jones, holy cats! Me, not so much. It made me sick. I relented and maybe bought 1 magazine and pulled out a picture of Michael Cole who played Pete on The Mod Squad.

I’ve always tended to live in my head because I often found reality uninteresting. And the stories I made up usually involved some male TV heroes–Steve McGarrett and Dan-o (Hawaii 5-0), Sam Beckett (Quantum Leap) Mr. Spock (Original Star Trek), Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek TNG). Yes, this even continued into adulthood. I managed to be functional-mostly, maybe. My home was never condemned, my family was fed and I held down a job or two or three and went back to school, plus volunteer stuff.

In my last post, I shared that I had to research filmmaking because the movie director, Charlie, walked into my head to be the love interest of my MC, Lily. He’s interesting, all right. But, I digress.

So besides reading books about filmmaking, I also started going to more movies at the theaters, something I never did much of before. I also began watching more movies at home more carefully. They became more than stories made with moving pictures and hopefully a theme.

James Franco

I noticed they had ACTORS. AKA, men. Please note, I was never boy crazy. I had 4 brothers-enough to make a girl not care so much about boys, knowing the true nature of the beasts. So, at my advanced age, noticing actors was like a mini-epiphany, or at least something new to look at and learn about. And I could call it “Research.”

The first actor to catch my fancy was James Franco. I hadn’t seen anything he was in at that point, but he showed up all the time In Entertainment Weekly. I liked the fact he was studying filmmaking at one school, design somewhere else and English or something somewhere else. Plus he was putting on a show of his artwork and publishing a book of short stories. A Renaissance Man after my own heart. I liked him a lot in 127 Hours. Not as impressed with The Planet of the Apes.

Here’s a cutie. Aaron Eckhart

Next, there’s Aaron Eckhart who has a large body of work for somebody who’s not a household name. Cute, too. I think by now I’ve managed to see most of his movies and have found a few gems in there like Neverwas, Suspect Zero and Possession. I especially liked him in Rabbit Hole. In his mid-forties, he’s the oldest of my “pretend boyfriends,” as my sister-in-law calls her favorites.

Michael Fassbender

Finally, Michael Fassbender. He’s been hot lately, but I haven’t seen it all. I wrote a post about going to see Shame as research for sex addiction (thanks, Charlie). Then I watched him in Hunger, the story about Bobby Sands, who died from the hunger strike he was on to protest the treatment of members of the IRA in the British run prison. Lots of (gasp!) full frontal nudity in those two. Last week, I watched A Bear Named Winnie, a family flick about a Canadian WWI soldier who keep a bear cub that eventually inspired Winnie the Pooh. The way his character loved that bear…mm mm. Sweet!

And I swear I saw Ryan Reynolds at Yosemite last year. Twice. And he waved to me.

Yeah, so, this is all kind of embarrassing to admit, but given the fact nobody forced me, I guess I had to get it out of my system. And knowing there other fangirls of my general age makes it not so scary.

Philip K. Dick “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
Philip K. Dick, I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

Coming soon: Unintended Consequences of Writing #2: Baring of the Soul

Writing What You Know

When I started my first novel, A Box of Rain–well, technically the second–in 2008, I followed the old advice-write what you know. I knew very little about novel writing or myself as a writer at that point. I knew about teaching and schools. So, it started out about a teacher who’s marriage is going to hell fast. She develops a relationship with another teacher who helps her through and they fall in love, etc. In the end, she ends up a teacher married to a teacher, which is actually quite common. And boring and predictable–to me, anyway. It didn’t help that I was disillusioned with the education field, big time.

I devised an alternate ending which involved a relationship with somebody who wasn’t a teacher and that was better, but…meh.

So I thought, who would take my MC, challenge her to the nth degree and put her in an environment she never planned on. Hmm. I remember sitting on my sofa, laptop on lap and thinking…an actor. Meh…maybe. Ah! A movie director! This became Another Place on the Planet.

But, I knew very little about filmmaking. But this director character stuck with me. He wasn’t going away. So, I researched filmmaking.

For about a year, I checked out and read books from the library about directing, producing, assistant directing, the language and little recognized but important areas of making movies. I found websites and studied a lot about the politics and lifestyles. I am by no means an expert, but I know more than I used to and it was enjoyable.I appreciate movies on different levels so much more. It made me wish I wouldn’t have given up on my theatrical leanings in my college days and would have pursued some field of it like costume or set design. Much like my MC wishes she wouldn’t have dropped her music.

My next stand alone novel, What Doesn’t Kill You, involves filmmaking, too, to a degree. I figured why waste all that new knowledge I had acquired? I threw in dressmaking, of which I know a bunch. And Leukemia, which I also am familiar with.

My sequel to Another Place on the Planet is Places Bright and Dark and has me researching sex addiction, co-addiction and recovery. I’m slightly amazed at how some of the knew information I’m already familiar with. Writing what I know. Hmmm…

Eat, Pray, Love

The movie comes out on Friday. My daughter gave me the book for Christmas and I was excited to read it, but, well…I put it aside. I was having issues with it.

I read the first chapter or two or three. The writer-Elizabeth Gilbert, if I remember correctly, decided she needed to divorce her husband. She didn’t go into all the issues because she wanted to respect the privacy of her ex-husband. The issue she talked mostly about was the fact she felt trapped. She decided she didn’t want to start having babies and do other things that were expected of her, things she basically agreed to when she said, “I do.” Or even before when she said, “Yes.” I guess I have a little problem with that. I’ve been married for over 27 years. My husband is a good man, but he has a head injury and, frankly, wow, how do I want to say this without making either one of us sound less than we are. Well, he’s lacking certain qualities I wish he had. I have to do many things I wish he would do, but he can’t because his brain doesn’t work that way anymore. And honestly, I didn’t realize all these things before I said “Yes, I will marry you,” and “I do.” In some ways, my marriage is not what I thought it would be or what I hoped or envisioned. I don’t think many are, but some of us manage to work through the frustration and disappointment, find the good things about the relationship and make it better. I’m sure I have disappointed my husband in many ways, too.

So there’s that. Then–well, maybe this is envy speaking but–I would like the opportunity to travel the world to “find myself.” I’d also like to travel to lose myself and be myself. EG was fortunate to be a travel writer and had an opportunity to begin her spiritual adventure by working. I’m not sure how the rest was funded, maybe the same way. I certainly don’t have a problem with that. But if most people who “found” ourselves had to wait until we could travel abroad to do it, well, we’d be permanently lost.

I have a hunch that “finding oneself” is a recent luxury of middle and upper class America. Most people alive today and who preceded us consider “feeding oneself” and her family a blessing. I’m extremely blessed to be able to sit in my comfy cool home in the desert summer and spout off about a tidbit of pop culture.

I may be missing a lot by not reading this book. Often, however, hyped movies and books leave me feeling, “Really? So what?” Not all the time, but many times. Maybe the movie would be simply a good story if I didn’t have issues with the book. And maybe, when the DVD makes it to Netflix, I’ll find out.