Night One: August 13, 2014, Before Sunrise
My mind was a mess. I had just finished reading Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (post about that coming soon) and I was not happy. Earlier in the week I started writing a new story but the words were not coming. I was only 3,000 or so words into it when I decided I had to throw it away. For me, the first 10,000 words are the most important. If they can come within a matter of days, there is a story forming. If they are not forming within the first thousand, the story is beyond repair.
Like I said, my mind was a mess. I needed to clear my mind. I decided that a nice 30 minute bike ride was in order. As I rode my bike and listened to the Guardians of the Galaxy score, I kept thinking to myself What am I doing wrong? Why am I not able to write?
Flashback to middle school and high school: I wrote constantly. I wrote during class, after school, at night, and whenever I could get a few sentences out. I was constantly being creative. But why at age 22 was I struggling so hard?
The Epiphany: I needed to watch Linklater.
I got home and put in Before Sunrise. Instantly, my mind was put at ease. As I watched two young and complete strangers, Jesse and Céline, fall in love during one night in Vienna I realized that I had to keep watching these films. I had seen the first two films years before but not the final film. I had to spend a few nights with Linklater to open up my mind again.
When I put myself to bed, two characters showed up in my mind and they would not stop talking. By the time I fell asleep I knew I had something.
Night Two: August 14, 2014, Before Sunset
I woke up in the morning itching to write. Clearly this Linklater experiment was working. When I got back from work, I put in Before Sunset. Nine years after Jesse and Céline first met on a train, they meet again in Paris. This time they only have little over an hour before Jesse has to leave to go back to the states.
After the movie finished, I started writing again. Once again, the words came naturally. This was a feeling I knew a long time ago. Hello old friend. So nice to see you again.
Night Three: August 15, 2014, Before Midnight
My original plan was to come back from work (at 8:30 pm) and watch the final film in the trilogy but my brain stopped me. No. You don’t want to say good bye to Jesse and Céline just yet. It felt unfair to have their story end so soon.
Instead, I looked at my new story, put on music, and wrote for a few hours. During the work day I realized that this story, if it ever gets finished and published, would be compared to classic 1990s movies and television shows. I decided that I was okay with that. I grew up in that time. That is what I know. It is easy to transport the past into the present.
I also realized that my first draft would focus mostly on the dialogue. For me, the dialogue is the most important part of a novel. Yes, I do find description to be boring. Dialogue makes the novel. If the characters have no voice then what is the point? My second draft would be when I put more description in.
Night Four: August 16, 2014, Boyhood
Earlier in the week I found out that Boyhood was finally coming to theaters in my area. My two-job work day ended at 6 and the movie started at 6:50. The plan was set. I would go see a movie I have waited for since I head about it years ago digging online for new Linklater movie news.
The movie was nearly 3 hours long but worth every moment. The nostalgia hit me watching Mason grow up. I could recall my high school graduation easily. There were moments when I laughed, felt sad, and felt uncomfortable. But that right there is the beauty of life. I cannot express the appropriate amount of words or feelings for Boyhood. It broke me.
I got home a little after 10 pm and opened up my computer to write. I finally called it quits when I hit the near 6,000 mark. My four nights with Linklater let me have my creativity return. But it cannot stop there. There are several movies that I have turned to when I am feeling down or suffering a lack of creativity. I must find it in myself to watch them and to make sure I write every day.
Maybe that is why my creativity left me. My life and surroundings changed and with that my creativity. But now I have it back and I want it to stay forever.
To quote the late, great Nora Ephron (who is also a personal hero of mine):
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
Good night, good luck, and find the creativity that lives inside you.
It’s only the start of something hopefully bigger.