I know that I haven’t written as much lately on this blog as I should. I am only about 20,000 words from finishing the first draft of COMPENDIUM. I hoped to have the first draft done by 2013 year end, but it appears like it will slip to January. Part of my reluctance to write here is the feeling that I should be finishing COMPENDIUM and not playing around on my blog. I need to go easier on myself, however, as inspiration to plug along takes many forms.
Another form of self-punishment has been not allowing myself to enjoy the writing of others. I recently (a couple months ago) finished reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, and I have yet to write down my thoughts about that. I have also started Dragonfly in Amber, but I have not let myself read too far. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood is another book to which I have barely scratched the surface. I have been dying to read her Madaddam Triology. She is one of the authors that I would list as highly influential in my appreciation of fiction generally. I really hope to meet her one day. I know I will never be as good a writer as her, and that is something I can live with.
Although I have been denying myself books, I have still been taking in movies. Recently, I have seen Ender’s Game (I still have no comment on Orson Scott Card personally, although he did buy a copy of Compendium when we were on a world building panel together), Catching Fire, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I enjoyed all these movies and recommend all of them for viewing, but I decided to write about Walter Mitty because I feel like the move really resonated with me. First, I enjoyed the short story by James Thurber. It was assigned reading in high school, but it was one I really liked. Also, I think Ben Stiller and the writer of the screenplay (sorry, blanking) did an excellent job adapting it for modern times.
My partner enjoyed it but did not appreciate what she considered to be excessive product placement advertising. Honestly, I did not even think about that at all while watching the movie, although I can understand the complaint. To me, LIFE magazine, a new defunct news magazine brand focused on amazing photojournalism, was a symbol for the many ways in which modern society, particularly American society, puts aside the life we want to lead in exchange for the safety and security of the life we do lead. Mitty was the perfect example of that. He admired Sean O’Connell the photographer for leading a life of adventure and travel, and Sean alternatively admired Mitty for allowing him to lead that life. Mitty’s work made O’Connell’s work possible, and O’Connell’s work gave Mitty something to which he could aspire.
To me, the movie reminded me that all of us work together to accomplish the greatness of those who are recognized for such. Even Ben Stiller’s movie could not have happened without the thousands of people involved who are just doing their jobs. It just puts everything in perspective when it comes what we are here for and what we accomplish with our lives. I can see where others might have felt that it was trite, but I think the simple message really resonated with me. I particularly needed it now when I am feeling blocked and like I need to grit my teeth and power through the tough times.
So, perhaps The Secret Life of Walter Mitty isn’t for everyone, but it definitely will be going on my “to own” list, and it will be one of those movies I go back to and pick up when I need to feel inspired by the human spirit.
About the Photograph: Taken at Tulum Mayan ruins in Mexico, August, 2010.
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