Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Who Do You Want To Be?

Guess what? This is a post about writing. I know, I know, I know. It's been awhile. I was thinking of how I shape myself as a writer.

I believe the stories we experience, watch, and read, become a little part of us. I believe every author we read influences us, shapes us, even changes us. Sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes in big ways.

So yesterday, I was watching the end of A Knight's Tale, and I had the sort of weird thought: I need to watch this a few more times. This needs to be a bigger part of me. I love the movie, but really, who has the time to watch a movie three or four more times because they want it to be a bigger part of themselves??? (Well, me.)

Just like Les Miserables, which, God help me, has TOO MANY WORDS! And Jane Eyre, which I have been continually reading for about a year now, over and over.

Sometimes, I find myself watching or reading stories I wouldn't, except that I feel it needs to be part of me, as a writer. Sometimes I watch or read them multiple times, because they need to be a bigger part of me.

It's not like I try to actively learn from them, although sometimes I do. I just need them to settle into my subconscious and be part of me. And sometimes I have to look after the whole, make sure the balance is precisely me.

But it's not like Moonstruck, which I've seen a million times. That movie has become a micro-piece of myself, not necessarily a piece of me, the writer. If that makes sense.

Does this make any sense? Does this sound crazy? Do you watch the balance of your "writing food?" Do you sometimes seek out movies or books because you want them to become part of you? Do you ever re-watch and re-read, not necessarily because you want to re-watch or re-read it, but because you want it to be a bigger part of who you are as a writer?

While we're at it, how do you shape yourself as a writer?

28 bonus scribbles:

Robin 10/28/2008 08:37:00 PM  

I don't want anything to be a part of me. I barely want my own body to be a part of me. I definitely don't want my nostrils to be a part of me.

Jude Hardin 10/28/2008 09:15:00 PM  

Hi Spy:

I usually read some Hemingway when I feel the need for literary cleansing.

Melanie Hooyenga 10/28/2008 09:18:00 PM  

I have never really looked at reading or watching movies that way. If they resonate with me they do become a part of me, but I don't think I've every actively tried to do it. Interesting.

I do try to keep a balance with what I read & rarely read the same genre several books in a row.

Anonymous,  10/28/2008 10:30:00 PM  

I'm kind of opposite of you -- I avoid certain kinds of books because I'm like a sponge. I'm influenced by everything. Often discouraged because the writing is so much better than mine or (sometimes) because it seems so dreadful and yet it is so popular. So I leap from genre to genre and style to style to avoid being influenced and I seldom read new books which are liable to make me depressed either over my own abilities or the publishing industry.

Edie Ramer 10/29/2008 12:17:00 AM  

I like variety in my reading. It keeps me from getting bored with any genre.

I've watched LOVE ACTUALLY like you watched MOONSTRUCK. Every time, I see something new to delight me, something I hadn't noticed before. I liked it when I first saw it, but the more I see it, the more I think it's one of the best movies I ever watched. With all their faults and their quirks, the characters are so real to me.

R.J. Keller 10/29/2008 02:19:00 AM  

I just need them to settle into my subconscious and be part of me.

Yes, yes, yes! That is me! And I am constantly on the prowl for the next book or movie that I absorb, rather than just read or watch. Even more importantly, it's what I always strive to create for others.

On a side note, A Knight's Tale is one of my all-time favorite movies. It's pure fun.

Lauren 10/29/2008 07:05:00 AM  

If I'm trying to write a story with a different tone, then I get myself in the mood by reading books in that tone. Like, if I'm trying to write a Gothic romance, then I pick up Diane Tyyrel.

Or if I want to write something with a Shakespearean tone, I pick up Romeo & Juliet. It just helps get my mind in the right place to start thinking of how I want to write.

Michelle Lauren
HOW TO TAME A HARPY~ American Title V Finalist
**Voting starts Nov. 10 -23! Check www.michellelaurenbooks.com for more details.**

Lauren 10/29/2008 07:06:00 AM  

Also: I'm a huge fan of Love Actually. It just defines cute. And the more I watch it, the more things I see. Plus, I just like watching Hugh Grant dance around near the end, and his kiss with Natalie at the school play. It just makes me go "Aww."

Michelle Lauren

Mark Terry 10/29/2008 07:41:00 AM  

I used to read books similar to what I was writing. If I was writing a PI-type novel, then Robert B. Parker and Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky. Caper-type novel, then Ross Thomas and late Joseph Wambaugh and early Lawrence Block. Procedurals I would read Ed McBain and John Sandford, etc.

I don't do that much any more. Well, not too much. I've tried to branch out my reading in general, and since I'm writing YA or middle grades adventures with fantasy elements, there's a lot more of that in my reading (which is also why I'm writing them, because I found I enjoyed reading them).

Travis Erwin 10/29/2008 10:42:00 AM  

I read a ton but a few years has to between reading or watching of movies otherwise it is too familiar and get son my nerves.

Studying people helps my writing more than anything else.

AvDB 10/29/2008 03:43:00 PM  

Escape from New York is definitely a part of me. I love the pulpy, dark feel (and Issac Hayes as the Duke of New York). On the far other end of the spectrum is Sense and Sensibility. That movie, the pacing, the actors (I'm secretly in love with
Alan Rickman)--all just pull me in. I don't think it ever happened consciously, but it happened just the same. I think Sweeney Todd is on its way to that special place, as well.

lainey bancroft 10/29/2008 07:14:00 PM  

Wow, Spy! You ask the best questions.

I never set out to make something "part of me", but I do walk away from movie/reading experiences hoping I can somehow develop the skill to leave people wondering about my characters/story etc. the same way.

And I love Moonstruck,but (OMG don't shoot me, Edie) I've never seen Love Actually...duck...run...

Rick 10/29/2008 09:19:00 PM  

Wait, I thought this was a political blog. What am I doing here. Could we talk more about the election?

(Just absolutely freaking kidding!) You write so well about the topic of writing that I missed you.

Anonymous,  10/29/2008 09:23:00 PM  

In a way, I do the opposite. I'll try to absorb a crappy movie before I would a really good movie as a reminder of what not to do in my own writing. That's the ONLY reason why I lowered myself to own a copy of a Skinwalkers. That movie taught me a LOT about plot holes and how to spot them.

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 02:45:00 PM  

Robin, I can think of an untold number of pounds that I don't want to be part of me!

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 02:46:00 PM  

Jude, I'm just starting to read some Hemingway. I thought a part was brilliant, but now he's sidetracked and I got bored. Must go back to it, LOL.

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 02:47:00 PM  

Melanie, I'm the same thing with genre. That's why the advice to "write what you read" is so preposterous to me. I don't read any genre even mostly.

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 02:52:00 PM  

LOL, Eric! I read your response yesterday, and have been puzzling over it ever since, because I want to say to your comment: "I'm exactly like that!" So maybe we're not opposites, but your approach is sort of a parallel inverse or something?

I believe everything is learnable, so if someone writes better than me, I'm inspired and I start figuring out why and how. If someone writes worse than me, then I'm heartened by the fact that if it got published, so can I.

Sheesh, I never would have thought myself an optimist.

PS: I love your writing. I'm taking notes. :-)

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 02:53:00 PM  

(Um, I meant, we're inverse on the avoiding books, bit. I think we're opposites on the interpretation of reading better or worse books, LOL!)

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 02:56:00 PM  

Edie, the second I finished watching Love, Actually the first time, I wanted to watch it again. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous movie.

Come to think of it, I'm going to put it in my NetFlix queue.

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 03:31:00 PM  

R.J., you know, that's exactly what I was admiring about it. It IS pure fun, but it also has SO many moments of gut-grabbing, tear-jerking emotion. The way they balanced spoofiness and sincerity is just intriguing to me.

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 07:00:00 PM  

Michelle, I've tried that before, sort of. If I feel my paragraphs are too short, I'll read John Irving so my paragraphs start to get longer, LOL.

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 07:02:00 PM  

Mark, I can understand that. I feel like a mutt. I read a lot of everything and am a master of nothing. Naw. Maybe. I don't know. I really don't know.

I keep thinking I should read more of one thing, like that.

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 07:03:00 PM  

Travis, I used to be like that! DH broke me of that habit. He watches the same movies for weeks. When we had HBO, he'd watch the few movies that were on, over and over and over. I get to hear them fifteen or so times.

Annoying, LOL, but at least I don't mind watching them two or three times, anymore!

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 08:08:00 PM  

Avery, you make me want to watch Escape from New York! Sweeney Todd is on my list, too.

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 08:09:00 PM  

Lainey, you must see Love, Actually! You really would love it, I'm certain of it. I usually don't like a movie with multiple characters, but this one is definitely worth it.

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 08:10:00 PM  

LOL, Rick! I know, I know. I'm sick of hearing myself talk about the election, but only a few more days! I can't wait, really.

Spy Scribbler 10/30/2008 08:11:00 PM  

Marcia, there's another movie going in my Netflix queue. That's interesting. Now I'm wondering if I'm smart enough to spot them, LOL!