Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Movies and Motivation

Happy July 4th, everyone!

Today's t-shirt: I actually left the house today, so I'm wearing a "real" shirt. But later today I think I might change into shorts and a t-shirt from the Freedom Run 5K, which is held around Sept. 11 to raise money for families of fallen police officers and firefighters (5K races were my grand plan for meeting men in the fall of 2002, so I collected a few shirts during that phase).

Book status: I wrote chapter seven yesterday, and I suspect it's one that will have to be rewritten later once I get a few chapters deeper into the book and solidify a few things. I also did some brainstorming for chapter eight, which looks like it's going to shape up to be fun.

As part of my grand time management scheme, I've decided to start setting an alarm in the morning instead of lying around in bed until I feel like getting up. I'm still getting plenty of sleep, but I'm getting an earlier start on the day, which automatically frees up extra hours, just because of the way the extra time falls. Today, I used that extra time to hike up the hill to the movie theater (now that it's reopened) and see a movie. I was able to get home in time to eat lunch, goof off a little, and still start writing at my usual time. See, if I schedule accordingly, I can manage time to have fun and get my work done.

I went to see The Devil Wears Prada, mostly out of my admiration for Meryl Streep and my curiosity from reports that people were liking it better than the book (plus, they used the building across the street from Random House for something in the movie, so my editor reported on how she could look out her office window and see Meryl Streep across the street when they were filming). I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of the book. I had big problems with it structurally and just plain didn't enjoy it, to the point I was kind of baffled by how much a lot of people seem to absolutely adore it. I did think that the movie was much better than the book. Meryl Streep really is amazing, and I think they fixed the plot structure problems to make the story flow better than in the book.

One of my main problems with the book was that I thought the motivation of the main character was flawed. If you're going to put a character in an extreme, difficult situation that the character stays in, despite the disastrous effects on her life, you have to convince readers that the character had no other choice in order to reach her goal. This character's goal was to be a serious journalist writing for magazines, so I could never believe that her only option was to take a job picking up coffee and dry cleaning for the editor of a fashion magazine. Every time she was in a difficult, painful situation where she had to make some personal sacrifice to keep the job, I kept thinking, "Well, there's freelancing to build clips, there's moving out of New York (gasp!) to get a job at a smaller magazine or newspaper and gain experience ..." I know that the book was loosely based on the author's experiences and she really did do all this, but fiction has to make more sense than real life does.

But I realized while watching the movie that the writing wasn't to blame and the motivation wasn't bad. It's just that the main character has no real personal integrity. You can't be honest with others until you're honest with yourself, and she was deceiving herself throughout about what she wanted and what she was willing to do to get it. She was looking for a fast-track shortcut to what she wanted, and she was willing to sell her soul to get it. And that's just not something I enjoy or can sympathize with. I had a lot more sympathy for the other assistant and even sometimes the evil boss because at least they were doing something they truly believed in, they were going after something they cared about and wanted, and they knew what they were willing to do to get it. The story is about learning the hard lesson about personal integrity along the way. This just isn't my cup of tea as a reader or viewer, and that's okay. That's why they publish thousands of books, because not everything likes the same thing. I guess I either like characters with integrity who still have lessons to learn, or I figure if you're going to have a character who needs to learn about personal integrity, you might as well go all-out and make her a real bitch, then give her a good come-uppance to teach her a lesson and transform her.

My, I sound very Old Testament, don't I?

My preference if you want to read a fun book set in the fashion magazine world is Fashionistas by Lynn Messina. It was laugh-out-loud funny and had a good plot.

I did really love the makeup job they did on Anne Hathaway. I think I need to go play with eyeliner before I start working for the day.

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