Saturday, January 19, 2008

Why Hart Writes...

There's been a nice series of short essays posted at 'Why We Write' by a good cross section of mostly prominent WGA film/TV writers where they try to explain...erm, why they write.

This week, old pal and friend of the blog Hart Hanson (Bones, Judging Amy) weighed in. His entire piece is a delight, but for me, this passage in particular stood out:

Early on I was determined to spend my life in serious-minded literary writing. As a result, I write a murder show for network television. For the Fox network.

I don’t need my imaginary therapist to figure out that one — genuine artistes are willing to forego health, love, underarm hygiene, financial security, family, and fun-on-the-weekends to pursue their art and I was never booked to be that guy. I want my wife to like me and I like clean teeth. Besides, one of my first rejections from a literary magazine said, “We found much to admire in your piece, especially the punctuation.”


Read between the lines, pal. Nobody ever praised Thomas Mann or Saul Bellow for their punctuation.

Besides, genuine artists don’t pander to an audience and I always envision you out there … you and your friends along with an extra smattering of acerbic celebrities, historical figures, the Nobel Committee, Stephen Fry, my idiot cousin’s idiot husband, courtesans, my entire high school, and maybe Jimmy Page in the last row.

The truth is my main qualification for being a writer is that I am a whiz bang typist. I burn up the keys, baby! I will kick your ass typing. I learned on a Remington unmarked manual typewriter so you sit me down in front of an ergonomic keyboard, well, I’m faster than all those girl celebutards I refuse to differentiate between but you know to whom I’m referring; they have issues with underwear.

But all of the above answers the question, “How I Came to Write” which is different from “Why I Write”.

I write because I’m totally confused by the world. I never know what’s going on. I absolutely never know what absolutely anything absolutely means. I ask and the good-hearted, intelligent souls around me do their best to explain but I don’t get it. I don’t get quiddity or science or religion or psychology or why we laugh when people fall down or why people come together or why we drift apart. I don’t understand my friends or my enemies and I definitely don’t understand time or gravity or mob mentality or Crocs or botox or why people take some other people seriously when they so very, very obviously should not be taken seriously.

Writing is a way for me to organize the chaos around me. I can corral bits of the sloppy world into a clean white area measuring 8 ½ x 11 inches, where it is apprehensible. Then actors and directors and the DP and the crew all explain it back to me on 35 millimeter opaque celluloid squares twenty four times per second and sometimes — rarely, but sometimes — I go “Oh!” and I don’t wish I were a physicist or a great guitar player or a blimp pilot because for those few fleeting seconds, I understand some small facet of some small thing.

And that’s why I write.


Set em up with the funny...then knock 'em down yet win them over with the emotional and heartfelt --- vintage Hanson...(I know...handjobs all round)

Find Hart's essay and many other wonderful musings on this thing we do....HERE.



Diane Kristine said...

Aww, I like that one best I think. "Writing is a way for me to organize the chaos around me" kind of sums things up for me, but it could also be flipped around ... watching what many of those people write does the same thing.

"The Book of Don" said...

thanks for this link Will .... to hell with doing all those things I had to do today ... the time spent reading those posts was well worth it. (It's 30 below here in Canada's Bravest City and I didn't want to try starting the car anyway.)

"The Book of Don" said...

by the way...I hear y'all ask what am I reading these days ?

Let me make a small plug for Richard Gwyn's great new bio on John A Macdonald - "The Man Who Made Us".

It's a vivid and compelling portrait - and I was shocked to learn - the first new bio on him in 50 years !! Shame on us.

Juniper said...

Nice.... makes me want to write!