Monday, February 13, 2006

Capote and Cocktails

Sometimes you see a film and something about it stays with you. Oftentimes, for me, it is dialogue. Last night, my husband and I were watching the Bueller... Bueller Edition of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and I found myself doing that annoying thing I do: uttering the line seconds before the actor. I have pretty good recall. Not 94% like Truman Capote but pretty high up there. It is a talent I don't put on my resume but one that makes for a decent tip when you are serving a drink order for 20 taken without a notepad.

Then there are those movies with stories and characters that forever remain. They serve as a frequent reference point for how you relate your own life to others. They are the stories and the people that strike a chord. As I mentioned in my previous post, I did not know much about Truman Capote before seeing the recent biopic. There was something about Capote - that story and that man - that just sat with me. I was struck not only by the situations that he found himself in but the way he handled them, things he said, the life he led - so very flawed and so very real.

It also struck me how much he drank. I find it interesting that they are so many revered authors that had drinking problems or struggled with some sort of addiction or depression: Capote, Hemingway, Williams, Poe, Woolf... the list goes on. Of course, when you look at their collective lives, the tragedies they endured would surely move one to seek any means of escape. War, lobotomies, suicide, abandonment, sexual identity issues - I mean really, do you blame them?

Then I wonder, are these precisely the tribulations that one must suffer through to become a great writer? Must you feel to the point of detachment in order to create something that connects? Perhaps such intense experiences drive a writer to the darkest places, where escaping the shadows is not as easy as shaking off a bad day.

There is a reason that we are writers. Because we feel the story, we live with the characters, we are the witness to their greatest joys and deepest sorrows. And once we've lived the story, it is our duty to tell it. Quite honestly, I don't know what is more maddening for a writer - telling the story or not telling it. I suppose there is a strong argument for both.

As for me, I've lived for so long without telling the stories, and I know how that has affected me. Telling them may bring exaltation or it may just begin the descent into madness. I suppose it is a risk that all writers take. And, really, what would life be without a little risk and adventure, eh?

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