Woody Allen Shares (a little)

I've never been a fan of Woody Allen. I'll say that up front. By which I mean, we were forced to watch Annie Hall in film school, and I didn't like it. Thought it was boring. Didn't find the relationship at all relatable, or funny, or interesting, or anything.

Then people say, "Well, have you seen Manhattan?" (A: No, but Richard Marx sings about it . . .) "Have you seen Hannah and Her Sisters?" Nope. After Annie Hall, I couldn't be bothered with any of that stuff. Because I was having it recommended to me by people who liked Annie Hall.

Now, I should perhaps mention that I did love What's Up, Tiger Lily? as a kid. But that's a different breed of animal.

Okay, and then later I tried to watch Match Point but ended up turning it off because I thought it was boring, too. Maybe I was just in the wrong frame of mind, though. I mean, I could try watching it again. I understand, of course, that there's a difference between watching (or reading) something because it's required and doing it because you really want to. And I know that reception is in part about mood and environment and just general circumstance. So, you know, it's possible I could go and even try Annie Hall again and discover it's not as awful as I remember.

Then, too, I watched Midnight in Paris during a flight to London and enjoyed it. Came home and watched it again, just to be sure it wasn't that I was fatigued the first time. But no, I really liked it. And that's receptivity again: I'm always happy when on my way to London, so then I watch a movie while on my way over, and my general good spirits color my feelings for what I'm seeing.

Anyway, that long preface finished (because I believe in being honest about my biases), I have to say I also really enjoyed this short little piece in which Woody Allen tells Esquire what he's learned. Because I'm a writer, too, and can at least relate to some of what he says. Yes, sometimes I do surprise myself when I'm writing. When it pops into my head, it's as funny and amazing to me as it is to anyone who might read or see it later. That's why you can't ask a writer where his or her ideas come from; we don't know. They spring like Athene from our skulls. (Okay, not always. But you can usually tell the difference between something that's been worked over and something that is and was magic in the making.)

Also, I never go and re-read or see something I've done. Because, like Woody, I would only find the flaws. At most I might go check one of my books to see if I can remember what happens when, or what a specific line was, but I avoid it if I can. It makes me uncomfortable to see myself on film, or read my work, or see my work performed. And it's like going backward in a way, too; one mustn't dwell on what's already done. One must continue to produce and move forward. And if I were to tangle myself up in worrying about stuff that's already out there, regretting things (or reveling in them), I'd never get loose and be able to do more.

Woody mentions the shower, and I have to say I do some of my best writing in there. Problem is, I hop out and try to go write it all down, and it's never as good as it was in my head when the hot water was streaming over me. I should have some kind of dictaphone for the shower, I guess, but that would kind of ruin it for me.

I don't know if I was born with the gift for writing. I'd like to think so. God knows I didn't get my grandparents' ability to paint or draw (my dad also draws and is a photographer as a hobby as well) . . . My grandfather was a poet, too, but I'm useless with that kind of thing. Writing is all I have. And some acting. As for the achievement side of things, I keep trying. But as Woody points out, I have very little control over what happens in my life. Same as anyone. If I wanted complete control of my writing, it would never leave my laptop. I would keep extra backup flash drives stashed all over the house or something, just to be sure I never lost any of my work. But I wouldn't share it, either. I'd hoard words like squirrels hoard nuts. And the flip side of that is, you can never achieve anything that way. At least not while you're still alive.

Fighting? I don't do it often. I discuss. I'll argue my point, but I keep my cool most of the time. I get hot on the inside, sure, but at the end of the day, I prefer equilibrium. Makes it easier to sleep. Some people love the drama; they equate it with passion. I'm passionate enough in my own way, but as for the fighting and the excessive life drama, I try to save it for my work.

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