Cinematic Scribes

I love movies. I love writing and writers. So of course I love movies about writing and writers. There are countless movies out there about writers, but here are a few of my favorites:

The Wonder Boys. Michael Douglas in a shabby pink bathrobe and Toby Maguire tucked under the covers with Robert Downey, Jr. is enough to get me on board here. Douglas is a writing teacher who hasn’t had anything published since his award-winning novel seven years prior, and can’t seem to get his life together; Maguire is one of his students, a gifted writer in need of guidance.

wonder boys

Stranger Than Fiction. Will Ferrel is an IRS auditor who suddenly begins to hear a voice in his head, narrating his life. Emma Thompson is the writer who is writing his story. To break her writer’s block, she decides she has to kill off her main character. Her character takes exception to this, and trippy madcappery ensues.

stranger than fiction

Sideways. Paul Giammati is Miles, a struggling writer and wine enthusiast who takes his friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a trip into wine country before Jack’s upcoming wedding. Miles looks forward to enjoying the wine, but Jack wants one last fling before his nuptials. His shenanigans throws the trip into disarray and jeopardizes Miles’ budding relationship with a woman he meets and connects with (Virginia Madsen).

sideways

And of course, there are the crazy writer/crazy fan movies from Stephen King: The Shining, Misery, and Secret Window, which are enough to make you rethink writing as a life choice.

shiningcmiserysecret window

 

I also love biopics and tributes: The Hours (Virginia Woolf), Iris (Iris Murdoch), Shakespeare in Love, Shadowlands (C.S. Lewis). Many, many others I’ve seen and haven’t seen.

Writers are an odd bunch, and it’s fun to watch a slice of their lives on film, from quirky to creepy.

Do you have a favorite writer movie?

10 Things

cash-register-576159_960_720

Ten things to remind me why I like working as a cashier in a grocery store:

  1. It’s my little contribution to the household income (and boy, we need it).
  2. It gets me out of the house, away from worries about Lilly and bills and writing and the state of the world.
  3. It’s my stand-in for a social life. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t see or talk to too many other souls. Not that I talk a lot; I listen more.
  4. 10% discount on groceries! It helps.
  5. Counting back change keeps my basic math skills sharp.
  6. Ringing up groceries can be like meditation or a good time for daydreaming. If I’m careful (and I’m not always), I can let my mind wander over the beeps and think about the book I’m reading (see #7), or what I’m writing, or pretty much anything I want to think about.
  7. I can get a lot of reading done. Really. I bring my Kindle, and in between customers or during slow times, I can get a few paragraphs in. It’s no worse than the young ones getting on their phones (which they do).
  8. Speaking of young ones, it’s a great opportunity for me to pick the minds of the younger generation (for when they turn up in my fiction), which I realized quite a while ago I know nothing about, except that they teethed on keyboards. What makes them tick? Turns out, there’s a lot of talk about college requirements, who’s dating who, and intense discussion of The Bachelor (females, anyway). Huh. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.
  9. I don’t take my job home with me. This is extremely important to me, and always has been. Once I leave the work place, my time is my own. Period.
  10. People-watching. Half the town makes their way through here on any given day, and there’s no end of interesting people (annoying or not) that have found their way into my Purple Notebook. 

Bonus #11. It’s a pretty easy job. Really, it’s so easy, a caveman can do it.

caveman

Whoa, easy there, caveman. Just kidding. I still screw up a lot, and there’s still plenty left to learn.

If you’re a writer (or any kind of artist), what’s your day job? Do you like it? Does it support your art, or stifle you? Leave a comment, and we’ll talk about it!

What’s With The Girls?

I’m often perusing various outlets for books–my local bookstores, the Barnes & Noble a few towns away (these are special trips my sister and I take, with conversation and catching up in the car on the way down and back, then separating on our own book odysseys in the store,  followed by chat over coffee to discuss our findings), my library’s online newsletter (or just browsing the actual library), and a print flyer called Book Page with reviews, interviews and book advertising.

I’ve noticed something over the past few years, and maybe you have, too. I’m probably a little late in the noticing, but the thing is the abundance of book titles with the word “girl(s)” in them. Here’s just a sampling:

  • The Girl Who Chased the Moon (Sarah Addison Allen)
  • Lilac Girls (Martha Hall Kelly)
  • The Good Girl (Mary Kubica)
  • The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (Heidi W. Durrow)
  • Or simply, The Girls (Emma Cline)

Don’t forget these classics:

  • Girl with a Pearl Earring (Tracy Chevalier)
  • Girl, Interrupted (Susanna Kaysen)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larson) as well as the sequels The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and

I could go on and on. When I googled it, Goodreads had a list of 759 books with the word “girl” in it. 759! Why is this so?

One could point to the mega success of novels like Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn) and The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins). Do authors–or publishers–really believe they can replicate that kind of success simply with a certain word in the title? Do they really think readers will flock to a book with said title, in the hopes of finding the same thrilling reading experience? I wouldn’t be surprised. Human beings are like sheep, content to go where they’re led.

girls

Maybe it’s something about the word “girl” itself. It connotes youth, beauty, innocence, a nascent sexuality. It’s what men want, and what women want to be. There’s a yearning associated with it, or a nostalgia. There’s so much that can go wrong–the misconceptions or corruption of youth, poison behind the beauty, the smashing of innocence, inappropriate or destructive sexuality. These stories behind the girl are alluring. We’re drawn to these images like a moth to a flame.

Maybe I should take up this trend and insert the word “girl” into my titles. My wolf novel could be Wolf Girl, instead of Wolf Dream (and believe it or not, it’s an expanded version of a short story I originally called “Lost Girl”–maybe I already intuitively understood the power of that word). My dragon novel could be, of course, Dragon Girl, instead of The Last Dragon, or The Girl with the Ruby Red Scales. I don’t have a title yet for the story I’m planning right now, but maybe it could be Girl, Reincarnated. Or The Poet Girl. I’m kidding, but it just goes to show how important titles are, and the influence they have over readers.