Animation: Drew Christie
…as publishers, it presents us with some problems.
Barbara Marx Hubbard’s extraordinary new book offers an evolutionary, future-oriented perspective to the Gospels of Jesus Christ. Barbara reveals that many of the miracles Jesus performed are actually similar to those acts that we currently aspire to achieve today, but so often without consciousness of Christ love.
This book builds on the great themes in the New Testament, such as Jesus’ statement: “You will do the works that I do, and greater works will you do in the fullness of time…” and St. Paul: “Behold I show you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, we shall all be changed…”
These statements are coming true. The Promise is being kept. We are all being changed. We do have the power of what we called gods. We can destroy the world and we also can restore the Earth, evolve ourselves and all of society. This is the last trump, and the trumpet is sounding for our generation.
The Evolutionary Testament of Co-Creation invites us to form Evolutionary Bible Study Groups to join together to consider and deepen the guidance for the meaning of our new Christ like powers to be used for a positive future for all Earth life.
My Favorite Films About Writers and Writing. (An Aside)
Once upon a time, I functioned as a bona fide L.A. film critic, and using those past laurels as validation (as opposed to, say, spear-fishing), I hereby present a highly subjective list of my favorite films that I believe will inspire or motivate (or at least cajole) writers who want to write. Or perhaps who need to write.
However, don’t mistake this list as being Every Movie Made About Writing. I mean even King Kong featured a screenwriter (Adrien Brody in Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake) but I’d hardly confuse that flick as an overt literary metaphor. And if I’ve omitted some worthy flicks in this admittedly idiosyncratic list, I’ve erred on the side of optimistic films rather than those fatalistic efforts… as our every waking moment in front of a rusting Olivetti or flickering PC screen is
punishment challenge enough. Thus, a few too-close-to-reality based “bummer” films (e.g.; Girl Interrupted, Leaving Las Vegas) while undeniably writer-centric—and while excellent dramatic interpretations—don’t ignite that spark within me of seriously wanting to write. Thank you, but I’m depressed enough sitting comatose in front of my laptop, words swimming like hungry trout in a deep pond and my cerebral hook lacking the slightest worm of creativity.
I have ranked this list with little suspense—from my most favorite to the rest of the best, and with a few Honorable Mentions, in accordance with God’s midnight whispers and my own personal eccentricities. I have not seen every literary-inspired or author-depicted film ever made, and hopefully I shall find time for those I haven’t yet seen… just as soon as every novel on my own to-write list is finished and published.
By the way, the films presented are fiction or fictional biography, and don’t include documentaries. So, in order of personal preference:
Some runners-up, and personal favorites, although not quite (imho) necessary rocket fuel for inspiring writing—although very good flicks!:
And, yes, I know the following films are, however indirectly, partially about writing or writers. And yes, many of these films have admirable, even wonderful, cinematic qualities; themes and characters and overarching messages. I admire many of these films and a few—e.g.; Get Shorty, The Name of the Rose, Sideways—get preferential viewing every time I discover them on late night cable. However, for whatever reason, these miss the motivational or inspirational quality I seek in this blog. Some begin to interpret a writer’s inner demons, but end up in the mystery, murder or mayhem category. Or else a romantic jaunt that, if nothing else, proves that once in a great while, even a fiction writer can find love! So, while many of these films are worth a look, I wouldn’t exactly shop here implicitly for literary inspiration.
Adaptation. A nice, slick, sleight-of-hand flick… but ultimately a surrealistic, psychological thriller about a screen writer.
Atonement. Sorry, but I feel this one’s a gimmick flick—with a supposedly boffo twist that let the air out of this balloon for me.
Becoming Jane. A gentle brush stroke of a movie, more biopic than creative primer (especially if one chooses to view Pride and Prejudice as her own fictional autobiography.)
Bell Jar (The). A poignant journey into depression, this one’s not so much a writer’s anguish as it is anguished writing and, like Girl Interrupted, the story may inspire some writers with a stark verite… but for most of us, I’m not sure I’d call it inspirational. Frankly, a story like this (imho) should inspire survival, not capitulation—writing as a means of personal salvation—so I find it difficult to suggest it as motivational.
Bright Star. I should probably see this one.
Capote. More about the man’s eccentric lifestyle than his creation of work. Worth a look simply for Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Kathleen Keener, but a very good biopic.
Deathtrap. Less about writing than about manipulation. But terrific film-noir.
Deconstructing Harry. OK, let’s face it. Most Woody Allen films are about writers to some degree. But about Woody Allen to a greater degree. Complex and complicated. So take Midnight in Paris and run with it.
Door in a Floor (A). A primer in why writers shouldn’t drink. (Alas, but we sometimes do.)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. More or less a biopic on speed, and whatever else one can concoct by mixing pharmaceuticals found in the bathroom cabinet.
Front (The). Awesome intentions, but more about the McCarthy era, with a light dusting of actually being a writer during that era. But Zero Mostel is priceless.
Get Shorty. A film I find utterly fun, and a nifty Hollywood farce. But not so much about the writing as, well—just about anything else that goes on in Hollywood. Based on Elmore Leonard’s novel… so what’s not to love?
Ghost Writer (The). Not really. It’s political intrigue that uses a writer as both a plot tool and fall guy.
Girl, Interrupted. As mentioned above, this intense psychodrama isn’t necessary a push toward writing, but for those writers who are desperate to bleed an intense personal story (fictive or not) on paper, this film may indeed be inspirational in terms of depth and honesty. An excellent drama, and excellent performances by Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. It’s based on Suzanna Kaysen’s memoir of her own experience in a mental hospital in the late 60s.
Hotel New Hampshire (The). Lovely film. With a slight undercurrent of “being a writer” flitting around the edges. A coming of age tale—with beautiful performances by Tobey Maguire and Michael Caine.
Hours (The). Um, sorry—but no.
Infamous. This one’s that other Capote film (Toby Jones matching Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s panache in playing the title role). Sandra Bullock plays Harper Lee. No less poignant than Capote—and equally worth the viewing. If you’re a Capote fan, see them back to back. Seriously.
Julie and Julia. Okay, so this is a film about occasional blogging—and, yes, that counts as writing—and about relationships…and about food, of course (the titular Julia is, of course, Julia Child). But I can’t argue that some writers might find the film quite inspirational. So by all means, check it out. With Meryl Streep and Amy Adams; directed by Nora Ephron.
Kill Your Darlings. Ah, a murder mystery masquerading as a morality tale about the ‘Beat Poets’ era (in the late 1950s) with Allen Ginsberg (a surprisingly droll Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs poised to invent the literary consciousness of the brooding ’60s. Yet the ambiance turns from period piece (cool enough) into a noir-esque caper of lust and mistrust—deliciously ironic perhaps—but, still, not exactly a primer for motivating novelists in the here and now.
Leaving in Las Vegas. New to writing? No, no, finish your book before you see this one.
Misery. More or less a film about a deranged and psychopathic relationship… with an unwitting writer. Personally, I think most of us would be thrilled to have a reader with so much passion…although probably with far less angst.
Motorcycle Diaries (The). Marxist revolutionary Che as a reluctant, journal-scribbling antihero? A sensitive portrayal and a worthy, well-crafted biopic. See you in Habana!
Name of the Rose (The). Mentioned for a slight—yet extraordinary—plot twist that earns the film a solid nod here. Not exactly about writers, but very much about writing—and particularly about “censorship.” A nifty period piece about the Dark Ages. With Sean Connery, too.
My Left Foot. More a biopic than a writer’s flick. But extraordinary man, Jim Sheridan. Profound drama.
Naked Lunch. Heh. Directed by David Cronenberg. Watch it with the lights out at night. Then we’ll talk.
Player (The). Yeah, but it’s really a spoof about Hollywood. From a writer’s POV. (But I did oh-so-love Tim Robbins in this role.)
Prick Up Your Ears. The moving and tragic biopic of 60’s British playwright Joe Orton, with a wonderful performance by a young Gary Oldman as Orton. However the film veers decidedly into Orton’s gay lifestyle (with failed novelist Kenneth Halliwell) and leaves any sense of art and craft in the distant background. Yet if you’re having trouble choosing your friends as a new novelist, this is a worthy, if horrific, cautionary tale.
Royal Tenenbaums (The). Um, sorry. No.
Shining (The). About a writer, but not really. A writer’s ghost story perhaps. Note: Stanley Kubrick had each—each!—of Nicholson’s faux-manuscript pages individually typed for that classic “All work and no play” shot. Classic Kubrick perfectionism!
Sideways. Not really. A funny poignant buddy film, and Paul Giamatti’s character plays a disgruntled writer, but this is more about a buddy-lovin’ road trip than writing.
Stand By Me. A coming of age story of four young boys—one who becomes a writer.
Starting Out in One Evening. I should probably see that.
Sophie’s Choice. Not so much a film about writing as it is about a writer’s passive passion with the eventual characters of an yet unforeseen novel.
Swimming Pool. Nice flick, but mostly murder mystery. What’s real? What’s illusion? Ah…
Third Person. Not what it seems. A nice approach, but it’s pretty much a psychological drama. A fairly low-key (very low body count!) Liam Neeson stars. Want to climb inside the mind of a writer? This one might work for you.
2046. I hear this one’s pretty astounding, a hypnotic, non-linear film by Chinese director Kar Wai Wong, about a sci-fi writer and his lost loves—present, past and future. I’m looking forward to finding this one somewhere soon.
Wilde. A marvelous, dramatic period piece about the life (and, of course, scandals) of Oscar Wilde. With Stephen Fry and Jude Law.
Hammering It Out.
Today’s particular stern finger-waggling isn’t so much about what we at Muse Harbor look for from potential authors as it is a personal observation about how I write, how the accomplished writers I know write, and how many writers who want to write—but who quite haven’t gotten past that first chapter—how they perhaps attempt to write.
Because the difference between finishing and not finishing a novel may very likely depend upon one’s ability to comprehend Rule #25.
Rule #25: Write one thought at a time. (And don’t worry about the rest.)
Success isn’t exclusively about passion and creative ability, but also about allowing ourselves the patience to write a single sentence (and write it well, of course), and then to write a second sentence, and then a third and a fourth and a fifth—concocting a methodical and polished collection of provocative threads that will one day bloom into a full fledged novel. I mean, what is a novel but simply an uber-long sequence of distinct, expressive thoughts, one after another after another? And within the brain of every true novelist, a myriad of motivated synapses will (trust me) weave those individual thoughts in proper order—like strands of cotton in a perfectly-fitted sweater. We may not know precisely how we do it, but it’s what we do.
When I sit down to begin a new novel, I may have a vaguely hazy notion of the impending plot or ultimate conclusion. I probably have an outline or a synopsis—either on paper or swimming around my head—but more likely than not, I have little idea where the tittering Nymphs of Creativity will ultimately lead me. Not a writer in the world knows, word-by-word, thought-by-thought, the exact outcome. I may introduce unknown characters or subplots or any number of as yet undetermined or unperceived variables, but I don’t concern myself about any of those intangibles. It’s not their “worry time” yet. Rather, I only concern myself with the sentence in front of me. Whether its completion takes a minute, an hour, or a day, so be it. But I don’t move on until I’m satisfied with that one coherent thought.
Understand that “being satisfied” need not be a permanent condition. Hammering out the perfect sentence isn’t an ultimatum to Saraswati.* Maybe tomorrow I’ll tweak that sentence, maybe rework the whole page or eliminate an entire chapter—if I’ve found a better way to express that thought. But I don’t worry about tomorrow either. I write what’s in my heart, my soul, at this very moment.
And then I do it again, in the next moment I choose to write. In a few hundred pages I’ll look back and think; hey, that wasn’t too tough. But like the man said, it’s easier looking back down the hill than up the hill ahead.
If you’re disinclined to believe nameless men of dubious existence—well, remember when your mother told you to chew your food carefully, one bite at a time? Because if you try to cram the entire chocolate creme cake into your face and swallow—well, life doesn’t work that way. Nor does your esophagus. Nor does writing a novel. Slow down and chew your words.
If you find yourself writing long, complicated, dubiously-detailed sentences, beware the ‘stream-of-thought’ conundrum. Like us, characters don’t always think or speak sequentially (linearly), but rather in a scatter-shot rush of near simultaneity, often tripping over thoughts and words. However, do be aware that readers can only read in a linear fashion—word to word to word—and complicated thought patterns can leave them utterly perplexed.
Can’t seem to get past writing the first page? The first chapter? Staring wide-eyed into the abyss, presuming unknown obstacles and those unspoken horrors alien to all of humanity? Take heart. It’s not uncommon for those of us beginning a new novel—or those of us attempting a first novel—to suddenly feel the enormity and weight of The Finished Product. And, like a deer caught in the high beams, we simply freeze. Yeah, that sometimes happens.
But begin by writing a single sentence. And if the spirit moves you, write another one. Then repeat until cured of any fear. Take deep breaths. Enjoy the ride. That’s the best—the only—way to finish a book.
PS: So how is this different from Rule #16: Focus on the now? Rule #16 is about writing style, this one’s about writing practice.
* Hindu goddess of literature.