When I’ve finished work for the day – writing or reading or driving home from a library or marking page proofs or answering emails or …… I do other stuff: hike the Santa Monica Mountains, cycle around town, sing, cook, eat, and go to plays and movies and such.
The last few months I’ve gone to a load of plays all over Los Angeles. We’ve got a lot of actors hanging out here, and after their shifts at Le Café du Jour, some of them do live theater. The other night I saw, or rather didn’t see, Theatre in the Dark -- ninety minutes of listening in a pitch black theatre. with voices coming from all parts of the theatre.
Then there are the small companies who are helping me complete my life-goal of seeing all Will S’s work on stage.
However I have a special love for books, plays, or films about an artist’s creative process. How s/he drags that faint idea into a finished book/play/film. Three recent ones come to mind. Seminar made me glad I didn’t do an MFA program in writing literary fiction for adults. It’s a romp for Jeff Goldblum, but has its moments that ring true for all writers. For instance, however resigned we are to rejection and open to critique, a part of us always wants to hear, "It's perfect!" not "It needs a lot of work."
I saw King Vidor’s Show People, a 1928 silent film a few weeks ago. Similar plot to The Artist , but, IMHO, a better movie. It was contemporary: the old cameras, lights, etc. weren’t created in the studio’s prop shop and the writing is a lot tighter. Marion Davies is fabulous. What I, as a writer, took from this – besides a big crush on Billy Haines -- was the conviction to keep doing what I’m best at.
Last weekend I saw Hitchcock, and though it’s gotten mixed reviews, I loved it. One of the friends I went with wanted a biopic from childhood, but for me the story of the genesis of one film, Psycho, was just right: the way a project takes over your life, including your dreams (and nightmares.) The way your characters talk to you, as you try to bring the story to life, the havoc creative obsession can wreak in one's life. While mine has never reached Hitch's fever pitch, I get it.
As for Theatre in the Dark – it reminded me to read my stuff out loud. Even if my readers never do that, the sounds of our words echo inside their heads. Not all my extra-curricular activities feed my writing, and that's OK. But it’s lovely when they do.