One of my personal vices has always been movies and television. Although some writers think that indulging this habit is nothing but distraction, I’d argue that it depends on how one approaches them. Because there are so many choices and so little time, I’ve been relying for a few years on the wisdom of Entertainment Weekly (EW). When I discover my copy in the mailbox each Friday afternoon, I get a little thrill thinking about when and how I’ll squeeze in the hour it takes me to devour it.
Last week’s issue was particularly inspiring for me as a writer. Or at least I was reading the magazine like a writer, where every page held some message that called out to me.
You’ve probably heard of the now infamous Ted Williams, the formerly homeless man with a radio voice from heaven who was discovered on a street corner while holding his cardboard sign. EW noted that his now legendary You Tube video first appeared on-line on January 3 and by January 5, Williams was on The Early Show and had a job with the Cleveland Cavaliers. On January 6, Williams appeared on the Today Show and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and on January 7, he reunited with his estranged mother and his first commercial appeared on-line. That was one busy week. As a reader, I was blown away by the pace at which TV moves. As a writer, I focused on the ideas that the media are just dying to find a sensational story and that if you happen to be part of that story, your professional career could move fast, and perhaps faster than you’d like.
I’ve heard similar stories about authors who have been fortunate enough to get into the Oprah loop. I, of course, have entertained several fantasies of appearing on her show, and soon her new network, OWN. But I never really believed it could happen to me until the day almost exactly three years ago when I received an e-mail from one of her show’s associate producers. Although I didn’t end up on her show (she aired a show on Feb. 8, 2008 about sperm donors that met their biological children), I did do a 1-hour phone interview with the producer and I was sure I heard elements of our conversation worked into the show. I haven’t given up hope of appearing on her show someday, and that hope is reinvigorated when I read about the kind of story-book success that happened to Ted Williams.
Assisted Reproduction in the Mainstream
I recently blogged about the first mainstream movie with assisted reproduction as a major theme to reach financial success, The Kids Are All Right. Now, I’m happy to report that the film’s stars Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo have all been nominated for acting awards, the highest of which includes the coveted Oscar. The film has at least 4 Oscar nominations, and as of today, Annette Bening is a frontrunner in the best actress category. Its considered a long-shot for Best Picture but to me that’s less important than the fact that the films critical success has helped it find a wider audience and increased awareness about families built with the help of (egg and) sperm donors. It can only help with reception of my book with mainstream audiences, if I’m so lucky to be in that position some day.
The movie’s success also gives me permission to fantasize about the movie adaptation of my book. I’ve met one Bellingham children’s book author, Royce Buckingham, who successfully penned and sold the screenplay and movie rights to his children’s book. Although it has not yet been made into a movie, he’s still enjoying the annual payments that go with that sale. To me, success as a writer takes many forms, and Buckingham has definitely earned his.
Good bye vampires, werewolves, and wizards. Hello… refugee teenage aliens. The movie, I am Number Four, is an adaptation of a young adult sci-fi, due out Feb. 18. Hmmm, I wonder what kind of books will be getting hot deals at this year’s writer’s conferences?
The Beauty of Brevity
To me, good writing is often not about what is said, but how it’s said; finding the most simple and perfect words, as if there could be no better or clearer way to accomplish an idea. With that in mind, I really admire how EW can say so much in so few words. Case in point, last week’s EW presented the movies expected to be released in 2011. I will continue to strive toward this kind of succinct perfection: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon, due out 7/1. Cars are robots.”
I’m wishing you all overnight success, mainstream audiences, and concise prose.