For the past two weeks, I’ve blogged about films and I’ve often thought that there are no good movies about writers. That’s logical because writers sit alone in front of a computer screen and invent stories, tell lies or imagine new worlds. Their profession is hardly prone to the adventure, danger or romance that go into a good movie. Yes, female writers do fall in love and get married, but not because they were rescued from danger, such as a computer monitor that turned into a werewolf. And not because a male writer hired a beautiful woman to pour champagne for him every hour or so.
Such is not the problem with writing about other occupations. Both doctors and lawyers require clients they can interact with. Also teachers, psychiatrists and architects. Soldiers and sailors are in constant awareness of danger, while a writer sits in a comfortable chair in a cozy room with beer or chocolate only steps away. Archaeologists (think Indiana Jones) may live with adventure or even danger. A writer’s only peril might be falling over because a caster fell off his chair, or be electrocuted by a faulty wire under his desk.
All right, I admit it. There was a film based on a novel featuring a writer, a horror novel at that. Yes, I’m talking about Stephen King’s MISERY. However, notice the protagonist had to get out of his office for something to happen. His car crashed, not his computer.
Last week I saw another film about a writer. It’s called THE WORDS and is about a struggling writer who steals another man’s manuscript and passes it off as his own, thereby gaining wealth and fame. Besides the plot I’ve just reduced to one sentence, the movie is like three stories in one: the writer who originally wrote the novel, the writer who found the manuscript and used it, and the narrator who tells the story about these writers.
I enjoyed the film, but was struck by the way the writer copied the found manuscript by retyping it. I was reminded of taking typing in high school, where we were instructed to copy text by looking at the material to be copied and not the keyboard. The teacher went around the room, talking to us as we typed, and we were expected to carry on a conversation with her without stopping. In other words, what we were copying was to go from our eyes to our fingers without touching our brains.
A writer who is copying someone else’s work must read it carefully first, because writing an original story is a process of thinking, imagining, visualizing what he or she wants to portray to the reader. The better that’s done, the better the finished product. A famous literary critic once put down a writer’s work by saying, “That’s not writing–it’s typing.”
So here’s to all my author friends who write, not just type. May 2013 recognize your hard work and talent.