Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Where's the muse?



I shared another writing weekend with Ann Parker, author of the Silver Rush mystery series. As a break one evening, we watched a movie — about a writer. (What's wrong with us?)

This one was pretty good, but it would be have been much better if the screenwriter had had the benefit of our analysis. It's "Starting Out in the Evening," about an aging novelist (played by the great Frank Langella) and a young woman (Lauren Ambrose) writing a master's thesis on his work.

Langella's character gave out some gems about the writing process. The fictional novelist (a double whammy?) talked about following his characters around until they did something interesting. He also tried to disabuse the young student of the idea that all novels are autobiographical, or have to come from personal experience, or "say something" about the writer.

But to us, the best lines came from a review of the movie by Roger Ebert. Ann blogged about it yesterday. The Ebert quote:

"...I am no novelist, but I am a professional writer, and I know two things that interviewers never believe: (1) the Muse visits during, not before, the act of composition, and (2) the writer takes dictation from that place in his mind that knows what he should write next...."

Food for thought!

5 comments:

Ann Parker said...

I'd forgotten the part about following the characters around . . . that was a good line too! Of course, in mysteries, there's always sneaky doings, murders, connivers, etc. to make sure that THINGS happen to the poor characters, whether they want them to or not!

Anonymous said...

Great Ebert quote; pay attention! xoxoxoxo

ellen said...

Sometimes the muse doesn't visit you -- she visits your characters.

Terri Thayer said...

I liked that movie. He was such an odd duck.

You invite the muse by having those writing weekends. Smart women!

Betty Hechtman said...

Your writers' weekend sounds nice. Great idea watching a movie together when your done writing for the day.