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June 23, 2014
There is nothing better than a good conversation with someone about a subject you can both identify with. I get that so seldom!
Last night at intermission of the show we were seeing, a few critics got in a corner and were talking, a bit about the show itself, but also about books and about writing. Kel Munger and Patti Roberts both write for the Sacramento News and Review. Kel, who is also a Journalism Professor at American River College, had recently posted a photo to Facebook about the books currently in this week's queue to read.
I made a smartass comment about whether she was going to read those all in a week and she said, "No, that was the queue. The unread ones move up to this week. I read 11 books last week, not including five graphic novels. I'm a bit of a savant. I've read a book a day since I was 6 or 7. I'm extremely weird, but in a good way"
She talked about a book she had just finished where a guy dies and then wakes up and starts his life over again. Kind of like "Groundhog Day." Coincidentally, Patti (who, in addition to being a critic, also plays a mean game of Word With Friends and it frustrates the heck out of me that I rarely beat her!) had just finished Stephen King's "11/22/63," about a guy who hopes that by going back in time he can somehow prevent Kennedy's assassination. (That is one of the next books I'm going to read.)
And, ironically, I had just finished the Gabaldon book where all these time travelers know so much about history and how various events are going to play out and discover the futility of trying to do anything to change anything. It was odd that we each had read 3 quite different books, but one of the key elements of the plot of each story was the same.
After the show, Patti and I were talking about writing and our process in writing. I love talking to other writers because when I sit here alone in my office, a dog at my feet and a fan blowing at my face, and I write a sentence and then play solitaire or go get something to eat, then write another sentence and check Facebook or play a game of WordWithFriends, and then write something else and take a break to read part of my book, I get angry with myself that I can't be more disciplined and just write the bloody thing and be done with it. However from reading things written by writers about writing, and from talking to people like Patti, I realize that I really am a writer and that many, many other writers go through the same process that I do. What we are really doing is allowing our thoughts to gel and figuring out what we are going to write next, whether we are consciously doing that or not.
I also loved it that Patti can't write if she is given a long deadline, but if she has to turn things out in a day, or a few hours, she gets it done right away. That is exactly the way I write. Don't tell me I have 3 weeks to get it to you. Tell me you need it in 3 hours and I'll be able to produce it for you!
Today, Jeri called. Jeri is one of my favorite people to discuss theater with. When we are at our respective shows over the weekend, we frequently send each other pictures. Mine are of the covers of programs of the show I am reviewing, hers are from the musical score of the show she is playing.
We got into discussing the flaws of Les Miserables today because I had just finished writing a review. It's one of those shows that I have just loved since I first saw it. Jeri, too, remembers being so taken with it when she first saw it. But she has played the show many times and I have reviewed the show many times and I fear the bloom is off the rose. I look at the show now and see its flaws, how we never know what the students are fighting for (it's not the French Revolution, as many think), the scenes are truncated and choppy so there is rarely a smooth transition and we don't really know why what is happening on stage is happening, but isn't that a lovely song? And what the heck keeps Javert chasing a petty criminal for decades? What fuels his hatred?
Fantine, as a principal star, is generally given the best looking costume of the factory workers, which is totally unbelievable in the context of the conditions under which she live and works (but we want to see Patti LuPone dressed nicely!) The actress I saw recently was given a Harpo Marx/Shirley Temple wig that was totally out of context with her station in life. All I could think was "no wonder the girls in the factory hate her!"
However, Jeri did clear up one thing for me. The ludicrousness of it did not hit me until I saw the movie which had an overhead shot of this one little street in Paris, a very large contingent of the French Army lined up on horseback with their rifles and cannons, and a handful of students crouching behind a barricade expecting to kill them all. How silly. Well, it turns out that during the French Revolution, the layout for the city was such that if you blocked off one small street, you could literally prevent supplies from getting to the king and that was, in fact, how the rebels actually won.
BUT in the interim, grand boulevards had been built so if you couldn't do down this little side street to deliver the King's caviar, you just took it down the main street. It makes that little complaint I had about the story much more understandable, but no less silly.
Anyway, we had a really nice chat while she was on her way to the theater where she is playing The Adams Family tonight. I love for chats like those.
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