One of my guilty pleasures is the television sitcom Frasier. When it first aired in the 1990s, I didn’t have time to watch television. I was working full time and taking care of children. I had no spare time. If I did, I watched reruns of silly British comedies, such as Are you Being Served and As Time Goes By. In those days I needed as much silly as I could get and no one does silly better than the Brits!
But lately I’ve found a channel that plays re-runs of Frasier in the morning when I’m having breakfast, reading the newspaper and getting caught up on email. It always starts my day off with a giggle or two. Lately they played an episode called “Author, Author” that hit close to home. Reasons are below.
Most movies and television shows in which a writer is a main character make one, or all, of the following assumptions.
1) It’s easy to get published and after you hit it big, you will become an asshole. Examples: She Devil, As Good as It Gets.
2) If your first novel is a huge success but the publisher says your second is shit, steal a brilliant plot from an unknown writer and pass it off as yours. Of course, you’ll be obliged to kill the real author before publication but that’s okay because everyone knows, writers make great murderers. Example: Death Trap
3) You hit it big but you’re an out-of- control, drunken misogynist. Life will only get worse and worse for you until the maid finds your naked, bloated body face down in your own vomit in some seedy hotel room. Frankly, there are too many examples of this type of movie to list.
Please note, I’m talking about movies in which the writer character is fictional. There are many good movies about famous authors. Although it irks me that scripts about suicidal or drunken writers seem to be manna from heaven for Hollywood. No one’s ever made a movie about the lives of say – James Mitchener, Erma Bombeck or J.R.R. Tolkien. The truth is, most writers lead pretty boring lives, especially these days when spending exorbitant amounts of time on social media is part of your deal with the Devil. Doesn’t leave much time for drunken carousing, illicit affairs or bull-fighting.
In the episode of Frasier I watched the other day, the brothers Crane decide to test out another myth about writing: 4) A case of writer’s block can be cured by locking yourself away, preferably far from civilization.
In their case, a hotel room with a mini-bar. If I were locked in a hotel room for a weekend under the mandate to produce a couple of chapters, that minibar would be emptied the first day and the paddy wagon on its way to get me.