Movie-watching and Intimidating Authors

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    In recent years, I’ve gotten to like watching movies at home. I mean, watching something almost every night. Blame the Internet. There’s Hoopla and Overdrive for borrowing from libraries, and Amazon & iTunes for renting online. It’s not like the old days when I stopped by Blockbuster or Kensington Video on Saturdays for something to watch that night. Now it’s a little typing, a little clicking, and away we go.

    Usually I watch something over dinner. Then after revising the current story, I lie down to play Relax With Words and then watch something else on my Kindle Fire. Last night it was Kamikaze 1989, which despite its title is a German film, made in 1982 about a dystopian Berlin of 1989. Outlandish, kaleidoscopic, weird.

    While it’s fun, it’s taking me away from the reading I used to do every day. I do “read” every day, but it’s audiobooks at my job, usually non-fiction historical ones. Those are good for story ideas and research, but not so much for sharpening one’s writing skills. I need to see the words on the page, preferably ones that unsettle me as a writer, reminding me of how amazing an author can be–and gives me that sinking feeling that I could never equal this author, not in a jillion years–but it can motivate an author, too.

    So I purchased the Kindle version of Charles Frazier’s Varina, about the spouse of Jefferson Davis during the Confederacy. Frazier was a wonder right out the starting gate–you may have heard of his first novel, Cold Mountain, which made quite a splash and became a film.

    Other such intimidating writers are William Gibson, Stephen King, as well as Thomas Wolfe and Ernest Hemingway (who I think of as the Big Two). They’ve discouraged me at times, but oddly, inspired me as well.

    Today I’ll read more of Varina over lunch. Then, after dealing with another, troublesome story, I’ll allow myself to watch something at the end of the day when I’m satisfied I’ve done enough story work.

    Now to go to it.

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