“We all make our choices in life; the hard thing to do is live with them.”
~ The Old Man (The Words, 2012)
I arrived home late afternoon with the winter sun already low enough to darken the January sky. It had been a beautiful day with sunshine and clear roads; I endeavored to complete the tasks I set out for myself. Later, as I parked the car and walked the course of the parking lot to my apartment, I focused on the reality of the day and how its eventual outcomes affected my own writing. I thought about how the day intertwined with my writing life, even though I was out and not at my key board writing. I thought about how others have an influence on me and how my journey is unique because it is mine.
The morning began by meeting with Dream Write Publishing author, George Campbell. Since publishing his book, Good Night Old Man, in late fall 2011, we have met several times to discuss the success of getting his words out there for others to read. George is not interested in the hype of book signings or extravagant parties or making large sums of money, although I am most certain he would not refuse the interview or a large cheque had I handed it to him. George will be 86 this year and his mind full of stories that would be lost if he did not commit them to paper. Sure, some of the facts may have been written before, but his story, the personalized George Campbell story, has not. He shared the idea for his next book and I am so looking forward to reading the anecdotes that go along with learning about a history I know nothing about.
The next part of my day involved a peaceful drive along the Anthony Henday (it wasn’t rush hour, hence, peaceful) to highway 14 and then across the country roads to my mom’s property. I spend time on Saturdays going through old receipts and paperwork, shredding things I know she would like disposed of properly. I found a small diary today recording daily tasks from 1966 and 1967, the time we lived out on the farm near St. Albert up to and including the move to the house in Riverdale. Her entries encompassed the busy life of mother and wife, shopping, visiting family, and even recording times we were ill – apparently three of us kids got the chicken pox within the span of 2 weeks! I was 10 at the time. Her words shared her reality and although she did not outwardly aspire to be a writer, I am most grateful I inherited my creativity from her. She wrote profusely at times, but more so as a cathartic release than to humor an imaginative muse.
The evening proved quiet as I reflected upon my day. I knew I would write something but just what angle I hadn’t decided. Ideas shuffled back and forth through my mind ~ perhaps my novel, perhaps my kid’s book idea, perhaps…
I checked out the TV listings to see what was on – I am always swayed by Criminal Minds or a Special Victims Unit episode; my choice between NFL Playoffs and the Shaw Cable fireplace sent me to the VOD to check out the movies. Scrolling through I recognized some recent releases although none attracted until I read “The Words.” Yup, you’re a writer when this entices you! The synopsis caught my attention right quick: “A writer at the peak of his literary success discovers the steep price he must pay for stealing another man’s work.”
Talk about a writer’s reality! Really?
The movie begins with the introduction to the characters – middle-aged author telling his story about a young writer who steals, and rewrites word for word, another man’s story. He doesn’t really steal the words as in taking them from him, physically – but he chances upon them quite by accident. At the moment, I thought, what a wonderful find! Something for an aspiring author to treasure and find inspiration in… The deception happens when he fails to right an obvious wrong when given the chance. You are drawn to the struggling writer and his inner turmoil as a scribe who has never quite measured up to the standards he believed should be his. You can see the emotion on his face as he receives accolades from his wife and we know he struggles with his own identity and what his journey as a writer really means.
The complication quickly sucks you into the life of each; flashing between the timelines and characters is a smooth transition. They are believable characters and the story grips you with true emotions of love, loss, anguish, indecision, and having to live with your choices and the inevitable consequences.
I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who has a passion for words. It was interesting to read afterward about some of the quirky inconsistencies in the filming of the movie; obviously, I was too absorbed in the plot to be distracted by them. Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons did an awesome job ~ I loved the conflict between the young writer and the old man.
The writer in the story deals with something we all seek – recognition for the words we write. Are they good enough? Will someone read them and feel as we do when we write them? When the old man says to Rory in the greenhouse scene that he should feel the pain associated with the words he chose to claim as his, it makes a bold statement of responsibility and truth. The story upon the page is inked in the creator’s blood.
Stealing someone’s words is, as the old man suggested, stealing someone’s life. The price of fame is not worth the lie but we all make our choices – living with them is the hard part.