The Intern

I like movies.  I like to go out to the movies.  So today I went to the movies.  A lightning strike had fried my old modem so I headed out to Best Buy to buy a replacement.  The Best Buy is just a few short blocks from the movie theater here in Santa Fe so I decided to run by and see what might be playing at around 1:00 p.m.  Turned out THE INTERN starring Robert de Niro and Ann Hathaway had a 1:10 showing.  I had wanted to see this film so I went in bought a ticket and a hot dog and settled down to be entertained.

The movie didn’t disappoint.  It’s a small story, personal and character driven.  Nothing blows up and nobody gets killed, but it has a good heart and it raises real questions that face driven career women.  Believe me, I know.  I’ve faced them.  De Niro has gone from the raging bull to the kind and avuncular figure and he does it very well.  I know there’s been a big hate on against Ann Hathaway, and I don’t get why.  I’ve always liked her in all her films and she was great in this movie as well.

I know going to the movies probably doesn’t seem like work, but it is for me.  Not only because I work in television and film, but because watching a story develop can often spark something in my own work.  Earlier in the day I had been working on a scene in the space opera.  I realized as I watched this movie that I didn’t have enough heat, enough pain and enough passion in the scene.

My female protagonist is facing betrayal by her husband and I was playing her far too matter-0f-fact.  This is a gut punch and I needed to get in and face it.  I had to let experiences in my own life come out, be raw and get laid on the page.

And I did that tonight.  It wasn’t fun.  It hurt, but the scene got a lot better and a lot more real.  That’s the hard part about writing.  Sometimes you have to pick off the scab and let it bleed.  I know teachers often tell aspiring writers to “write what you know”.  By and large I think this is terrible advice.  People who write science fiction haven’t been in space or met aliens.

Today I realized what those teachers might be groping to say is that what you know is the pain and grief, joy and celebration that you’ve experienced.  Those you do know.  You just have to have the courage to put them on the page.


3 Responses to The Intern

  • I started writing because I needed to get out some pain that resisted every other method. Nowadays, I’m trying to deal with discovering late in life (I’m fifty) that I’ve got a (comparatively) mild case of Autism Spectrum Disorder. I’m trying to write the… inherent and rather huge “WHAT THE–?” that this brought on out of my system.

    Don’t really know if it’s working, but it seems to be– and that lends credence to your thought that *this* is what I know. What we all know, really.

    • Melinda Snodgrass says:

      Harlan is reputed to have said — “Don’t write if you don’t want people to see your soul.” I think he was right. And sometimes we aren’t even aware of it. It took an Canadian interviewer to point out to me that I always write about fathers and sons (because I was raised as my dad’s second son and the pressure he laid on me was intense.) Anyway, once I realized that I just embraced it.

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    I forgot one more rant about this movie. It’s pretty well known that I am really, really, really tired of the stubble look, but in this film the loser, pathetic husband of our heroine sported the “neck beard”. No. Just No. And Don’t. God is that ugly.

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