A Pretty Satisfying Thing, ForsoothPosted: August 3, 2009
I was able to sneak away from my massive project (which is turning out not to be as massive as I had feared) to have dinner with a few friends the other night. I had a great conversation with my friend Mel, who is a terrific writer. Her blog, Teaching Will, is about her adventures as a former actress who now volunteers, bringing Shakespeare to under-served kids in Los Angeles. She tells wonderful stories about what happens when the kids experience the Bard for the first time. It’s amusing and often quite touching, especially when she shares her feelings about her past as an actress who never quite found what she was looking for in Hollywood. She is now finding more than she ever imagined from a bunch of kids learning not just about acting or saying fancy words, but also about what they themselves are capable of. And that’s a pretty satisfying thing, forsooth.
Mel also talked about a new manuscript she’s working on – her third – and I talked about the book I’ve been working on for a million years – my first – and we compared notes on the struggle to figure it all out and somehow turn it into story.
We’re both veterans of Hollywood and the “industry,” with the corresponding dreams and disappointments, and we’ve both had to let go of old expectations, and find new passions. We’ve both discovered a great love of writing, and we talked about structure, and the search for interesting characters doing unexpected things, and my love for witty dialog and her love for finding the exact right word or phrase. We’re both excited by the projects we’re working on, and struggling with the challenges they present.
Of course, it’s tempting to leap ahead, past the sitting and writing and figuring it all out, to the point where the manuscript has become a published book. Maybe it’s actually selling, and people are enjoying it. And maybe Hollywood comes calling, wanting to turn that book into a screenplay. It’s a fantasy of course, but it’s right up there with the fantasy every writer has of appearing on the Oprah show to talk about their book. Not that I’m holding my breath for that to happen, but I already know what I would wear. Although, I suppose I should actually write the book first.
Because I have a little bit of experience with how things work in Hollywood, I’m convinced I know what would happen if Hollywood ever came calling. if I ever manage to publish my book about being a 40-something woman who triumphs over years of poor dating choices and Match.com to find true love and get married, there would be some producer who’d say “We really love the story! It’s so relevant. We’re just wondering if there’s any way you can make the lead younger. Say, 25?”
I’ve decided that, at this imaginary meeting where I’m selling the movie rights to a book I haven’t even written yet, I would say yes, sure, why not. Because like Mel, I never quite found what I was looking for in Hollywood, and I really don’t care any more. I’ve let go of those old expectations. At that point, if I ever get to that point, I’ll have accomplished something hard earned, and I’ll have learned something about what I myself am capable of. And that would be a pretty satisfying thing. Forsooth!