Sunday, August 14, 2011


In case you also check out my Not Writing blog, this post is in both places. I thought I'd just write it in one, but my thoughts shoved the poem I had in my head out, so this is all I can think about:

I was slapped in the face this morning. Not literally, but I'm stinging from it just the same.

And it's all my fault. And it's all because I haven't been writing.

For YEARS, ever since I took freshman composition, I've been in love with the idea of writing a play about Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, whom I suspect wrote Shakespeare's plays. But over the past many years (too many to mention, believe me), I didn't write. I have tons of research for it, a huge collection of books on it, and I'd even made an outline of the major events so that I could someday write it.

Only now I don't have to. The movie is coming out in October, and it's calledAnonymous. I've missed my opportunity.

Fiction writing is one thing--sure, J.K. Rowling has made the one and only Harry Potter, and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only happens once, but other fantastic characters can still lead beautiful lives on paper. I noticed, too, that yet ANOTHER production of The Three Musketeers is coming out. (How many versions are we going to get? The book is better than any of them.)

But Oxford's story should only happen once. I just hope it's done beautifully, that it is better than I can wish for, that people can see the irony, the tragedy, the poetry of the whole situation. Either way, whether it sucks or holds audiences spellbound, it's too late for me to write it. I've missed that chance because I haven't written it. Hell, I am probably still a decade away from having the skill to write it.

I love the story, though, so I will go to see it in October, hoping it's brilliant, but still feeling a bit compressed because I will never write it.


  1. When I look back at the number of projects I hoped to do but never started, or started doing but never completed, or finished but never published I feel ashamed!

    Martin Nicholson

  2. I could I suppose lend an ear of sympathetic condolences but I believe you know me well enough to know it would simply be an ear without the head attached.

    I really enjoy the part where you give up on your project because you think this story can only be told once on screen or stage even though the rumors have been around for about 100 years or so and by your own admission there is at least a shelf of research around exploring the idea.

    Yet most of all I like how you are automatically assuming that the screen play is going to be better than anything you could do simply because that horse crossed a finish line first. Even though historical literature is not a race. And in comparing the work to Rowling and Tolkien then you are saying this is all fantasy and has no basis in history.

    It is first and foremost about entertainment and secondly about historical accuracy used to bring those being entertained to your logic drawn conclusion but then I suppose I don't need to say anymore about it because you, Shakes, as of this post have given up and quit.

    That's cool sometimes it's best to quit throwing punches and just curl up in the old self protective ball until they (you) quit beating on yourself. I don't know much about quitting on writing projects but I know plenty about when to stop punching myself in the face.

  3. AMEN walking man!!!

    That is ludicrous, “a story can be told but once” I don’t believe that for one second. If you love it share it, if that’s what you want to write: write it… let the audience figure out which one is better or deserving.

    Come on! This doesn’t sound like you… is this just another reason to give up, or stop writing it completely.

    I say do it, write it… put it down on paper; your vision of this story does deserve to be told, and heard for that matter.

    If I could, I would slap you right back… you need to write this, we deserve to read it, or see it!

    No story is one hundred percent original, so don’t cop-out, get busy and live your dream!

  4. Don't be ashamed, Martin. I'm not ashamed of this--I just haven't been ready to write it... and so I'm sad that I likely won't get the option.

    Walking Man and Jeff, you are so kind to me, kicking me in the pants and slapping me around like this. That you don't see my blog entry as the highest form of hubris is what amazes me. I think it is unlikely that this screenplay will be at all what I would write, but even if it's awful that doesn't open the door for better versions. My assumption is that it will make it far less likely that the subject will be dealt with again, at least for a while.

    And I haven't given up on writing. I went through some of my notes on that subject this morning--and I'm realistic enough to know I'm still not ready to write a historical screenplay. But I AM ready to revise my Thomas novel, and that is what I've been doing all day so far. I've been going through beta readers' notes, and I plan to send a chapter of it to you, Walking Man, later today.

    Thank you so much, though! Had I still been in the fetal position, I would instead have started punching myself in the face. As it is, I'm just off to revise my novel. And it's about damn time.

  5. I'm not going to kick you and say "Get to it." I'm not going to tell you you still can write it.

    I have had writing concepts (not many - my brain works weirdly) that I will never pursue because I've seen it done BETTER than I can do it or more originally or so effectively that I know anything I do will not do the subject justice.

    Then again, sometimes they've just inspired me by being so good to go down a different path that was just as rewarding or to look at what I was doing in a different way. And that's just if they were good.

    If they suck, I'm often DRIVEN to put on paper what it SHOULD HAVE BEEN.

    In the end, it's impossible to tell what will inspire you or, probably, to stop yourself if something drives you to write.

    It's a bit premature to give up, hon.

  6. We'll see if the film turns out to be another AMADEUS or IMMORTAL BELOVED. If it does, I'll adore it and be grateful it was fantastic.

    And perhaps, just perhaps, I'll use the research for something more... only time will tell.

  7. I say you MUST write it... there is never to much of a good thing.

    The world is a better place when people share their passions, and if yours runs that deep you are depriving the world of something special.

    Write it and see if there is a place for it, only then may you say there is no place for your version of the story.

    I hope you change your mind!