Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Am Many Men

There was no real doubt in anyone's mind this year that Daniel Day-Lewis would get Best Actor for his incredible performance in the title role in Spielberg's Lincoln.  The already two-time winner of the same prestigious award methodically puts his whole being into his roles and becomes the character he plays, convincing the audience beyond the shadow of a doubt.

So it was with humor and love that he addressed a special thanks to his wife of many years during his acceptance speech for loving "ten different men" over the years of his renowned career they were together.

This post is about a writer becoming the characters he writes.

The Count of Monte Cristo

I first noticed the dramatic effect narrative has on, well, at least my subconscious, after watching the modern Jim Caviezel version of The Count of Monte Cristo, which Caviezel was good in, but lacked the fidelity to the stark story that Dumas originally penned.

I remember after the movie looking in a window in my parents' house, seeing my reflection, looking at my mannerisms, and I heard my voice was different - it was his: I was imitating Caviezel's Count, and I caught myself doing it.  I began wondering how many times I did this after watching films; and ever since I've noticed it, creeping in: I'll walk out of The Fighter with Mark Walberg and punch the air like a champ.  And then just laugh at myself.

Syd Field

I once read, and re-read, and re-read Screenplay by the renowned Hollywood script teacher Syd Field.  There are so many gems in that little volume, you really have to read it even if you are into short stories or novels - it's a great asset to narrative writers.  I digress.

He brings up this point that I will always remember about how the screenwriter's family, spouse, what have you should expect a little strange behavior from the writer who is writing his dramatic masterwork.  He explains that the writer often becomes the characters he writes: pacing about the room, acting the part, spewing the dialogue line by line.  Dramatic writers will agree - it happens.

And funny also is the journey from point A to point B of the story: the writer gets all worked up as the plot thickens and then feels victorious when he climaxes and ends it.  (That's what she said. Lol.)

Poe the Gnome

I do marketing during the day, wait tables at night.  One of my creations for our company Facebook/social media campaign is a lawn gnome we named after Edgar Allan called "Poe."  He basically does the Travelocity thing but promotes local businesses in the process.  It's an ingenius thing and it works: we get a lot of fans from that little dude.  (Find out more about him here on our company website.)

But I also write the blog and post about his adventures as part of the promo.  And the thing is, it's been a love-hate relationship with this guy and he's really screwing with my head.  I have to take him to the place where we are going to do the photoshoot (embarassing, taking a gnome around, try it sometime) and act out the pose for the pictures, and get into his "head."

But I remembered Syd Field, and felt I was a least doing it right.  I just don't take the gnome home with me.

Onward and Upward

It's really an adventure.  I have about a dozen narratives constantly in development, flying through my mind, that take on new aspects and whose heroes find new characteristics in the real life events of my own life.  It's almost a motivator for me: I'm not them but they are in me and their victories are really mine, their failures come from my own falling into the depths of it all.  And then I, they, we get back up.

I'm no schizo or multi-personality, I'm a writer.  Every dramatic writer knows it.

We are many men.

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