Any of you guys seen Midnight in Paris? It's a good show.
I've never been huge on Woody Allen films, not because I don't like the guy or anything, but because ... his kind of stories aren't the ones I'm usually into. Thanks to the never ending cue that is The Netflix, we eventually received it in the mail and we gave it a watch. From the trailer, I thought I would be in for a story about a man on a Paris vacation, disenchanted with his fianceé, who goes out at night and has a complicated, romantic encounter. Well, you can't judge a book by its cover, or a movie by its trailer, because it turned out to be about so much more than that.
Our protagonist, Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), is a writer, a successful Hollywood screenwriter. Only, he wants a career change - he wants to write novels, maybe even a great one, just like his heroes from days gone by, but he just can't into it (damn muse - we know the feeling).
Time travel? Oh, yeah - now we're talk'n!
And because every famous artist lived in Paris in the 1920s (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Earnest Hemingway, Josephine Baker, Picasso, to name a few), Gil got to meet his heroes, including a woman who, for some reason, resonated with his muse much more than his fianceé did.
I can't exactly blame the guy ...
What Gil needed to learn was that he couldn't depend on another time or another's work for inspiration. He had to be in his own time, with his own story, in his place in history, so that someone down the line could later look to him for inspiration after he's long dead (lather, rise, repeat), but sometimes it takes looking into someone else or another time before we can look at ourselves and figure us out.
For me, I always thought the 1930s were amazing, and I had often pretended to have adventures as Indiana Jones in the backyard. I even enjoyed the literature of that time, like Steinbeck, J.R.R. Tolkien, Harper Lee, etc (sorry, 1920s, but you can keep your Great Gatsby). When I started to write, I sounded a lot like them, a voice that didn't resonate so well in the modern world, and that's when I started to look into my inner golden age.
I had to take what I liked from it and I had to bring it into this time in a language that people could understand and enjoy today. And you know what? It's working!
Since my WiP is semi-autobiographical, it resonates even more so.
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This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. We can always find inspiration in the external (I know I do), but when things don't click, we might fail to look into our own selves. For all we know, the inspiration we need has been inside us all along. We just have to tap into it - how to do it is your discovery. I invite you to watch this film and see if it can't help you find the superstar that you already are.
What's your inner Golden Age? How has it shaped your writing?
I'm David, and the detective agency detective is missing ...