Wednesday, December 8, 2010

FACT or FICTION?

Think back to the last movie you saw in a theater rather than on television or DVD. Was it a Bruce Willis action film, the latest Harry Potter movie, or do you go way back to Gone With The Wind?

The matinee price of a theater ticket in Honolulu is $8.50, a bit less for Seniors and Military. Snacks can cost even more. A kids special of buttered popcorn, small soda, and Junior Mints (with a foot-long hot dog covered in mustard, ketchup, relish, and jalapeno peppers on the side) will run you $9.00. (Choke money, yeah?) Cheaper to watch movies at home.

Last night, December 7, a date that FDR once declared would "live in infamy", I watched the 2001 remake of Pearl Harbor starring Ben Affleck, Josh Harnett, and Cuba Gooding Jr.

The previous evening I viewed the original movie, Tora! Tora! Tora!  Filmed in 1970, this version includes professional Japanese actors along with Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotten, E.G. Marshall, and Jason Robards. Though billed as a dramatization of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the format has the feel of a documentary.

Both movies portray the raw drama and tragedy of that fateful day. But the two films, separated by 30 years, explore distinctly different viewpoints of events surrounding December 7, 1941. What is fact, and what is fiction?

Our ingrained beliefs determine how we interpret information. It was once believed that the world was flat. Much was documented to validate this truth, until 17th century Galileo disproved the notion and was threatened with imprisonment for his heretical ideas. Or is it a fact that Yajnavalkya in the 9th-8th century BCE first suggested the earth was round?

Who first discovered America, Christopher Columbus in 1492 or the Chinese in 1421? In the practice of medicine, that which is accepted truth today may become less reputable tomorrow. You seldom hear of a doctor performing bloodletting these days, do you?

It's often difficult to separate fact from fiction in newspapers, magazines, or even novels. I researched multiple facets of the year 1968 before writing the novel, FOR EVERY ACTION. While I am confident the information I've included in the manuscript is accurate, an alternate interpretation of the facts could generate debate.

This became apparent when I "googled" the movie, Tora! Tora! Tora! and came across a site that listed 22 apparent flaws in the 1970 movie:  http://www.moviemistakes.com/film1314

As a reader and moviegoer, I try to keep in mind that novels and movies are meant to amuse, beguile, captivate, delight, enthrall, gratify, humor, inspire, please, regale, or stimulate. 

Hawaii Theater
Unless the facts are distorted to the detriment of the reader or viewer, I believe it is better to remember the melodic message of the 1953 song and the 1974 movie of the same name that starred the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Liza Minnelli:  THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Non-Discretionary Hours

Why is life similar to writing a novel, or launching a blog?

Because something else always seems to come up that is too enticing to resist.

Writers' guides suggest creating a website or blog long before the 3-book contract is signed, before a publisher consents to publishing your novel, and even before an agent agrees to represent you. That's why I have been working on my blog's creation for months. The initial plan, before the revised Thanksgiving date, was to launch the blog . . . well, before now. Then those enticements started showing up, just as they do to disrupt my writing.

Weddings, reunions, and funerals all consume the discretionary hours of a person's normal life. Plans change as emergencies and other unexpected situations arise. Then the hours scheduled for writing the next chapter of that current novel disappear, turning scheduled writing hours into discretionary hours. The trick is to keep the writing hours in the non-discretionary column.

Which projects or daily chores do you have difficulty completing, what hours do you find almost impossible to keep in the non-discretionary column?

The obvious solution, easier said than accomplished, is multi-tasking.

The next time an unexpected event presents itself, I'll continue to write between doing laundry and packing; while waiting for the last boarding call to wherever; and during the flights as I eat my salted pretzels, rather than viewing The Karate Kid for the third time.