This past Sunday night the Academy Awards were on and, as usual, I was glued to the screen for all of it. I didn’t watch more than 30 minutes or so of the Red Carpet interviews beforehand, but I did catch a handful. To me, the stars looked nervous out there. Distracted, jittery, nearly feverish…and who could blame them? They might be mega-famous and ultra-wealthy, but this was still Hollywood’s “Biggest Night,” and a time when their work was held up alongside their peers to see who’d get to take home that coveted golden Oscar statuette.
I want one of those, too! (If not a real metal one, at least one of those cute chocolate miniatures.) But then, I still love to fantasize about winning a Grammy Award someday as well, along with an Olympic Gold medal in ice skating…never mind that my piano playing is dreadful and I couldn’t do a sit spin — let alone a triple toe loop — to save my life. 😛
But being a writer is synonymous with being a dreamer. In watching the awards show this weekend, I laughed aloud in recognition when, just before introducing the nominees in the “Best Screenplay” (both Original and Adapted) categories, Robert DeNiro said: “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.” LOL.
I knew even our beloved Jane Austen, with her brilliant mind and sheer narrative genius, would have laughed and completely understood these feelings as well. I can only imagine the isolation she must have experienced on many occasions and the inevitable sense of inadequacy when her earliest attempts at publication were rejected. I don’t know ANY writers who are immune to neurotic tendencies or bouts of pure panic, and I know A LOT of writers!
And, yet, the imagination of writers, actors, artists, and creative people of all kinds is universally celebrated on nights like the Oscars. To simply be nominated is one of the most impressive honors anyone involved with the world of film and screenwriting could receive. So why all the insecurities?
This is something I’ve talked with my son about at length — the flipside of creativity and, more specifically, the need to accept the challenges that come with any ability, not just its gifts. I was plagued with a highly overactive imagination as a kid, which made it easy for me to conjure up lots of fun story ideas but equally easy to scare myself silly with frightening mental scenarios. My son has definitely been prone to similar nightmares, just as I’d always been, not to mention inheriting my tendency toward getting really stressed out and hitting a state of information overload rather quickly. For years now, we’ve had to discuss how important it is to understand both sides of the creative coin. To recognize that we don’t get to have one side without the other.
One of my favorite actresses and screenwriters, Emma Thompson, showcased both her own cleverness and the penchant writers have for being astute observers with her fantabulous acceptance speech in 1996, when she won the Golden Globe (and the Oscar that year, too, by the way!) for her adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility.” If you’ve never seen this clip, you’re in for a treat. If, like me, you’ve seen it numerous times, you know it’s worth watching again:
Are you a fan of awards shows? If so, which ones do you enjoy watching? Is there a particular actor, actress, director, etc. that you feel should be recognized for his or her excellence? A recent film that you wish you could give an award to because you loved it so much? Please share!
p.s. If anyone here enjoys online book clubs, my novel A Summer in Europe is the Women’s Fiction Book Club pick for March and we’ll be discussing it on Goodreads HERE!! (Check out the Q&A if you get a chance. 😉 ) It’s the story of one woman’s grand journey of self-awakening, amidst the classic architecture and stunning vistas of Italy, Austria, France, England, and more… The book club open to the public, so anybody who’d like to join us is most welcome!