Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Regarding Nim's Island: Not All Authors are Eccentric

Okay, maybe we're a little eccentric... *Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.*

I watched Nim's Island last night in order to prepare for this week's radio program on my show, The Final Cut in Movies. In the movie, Jodie Foster plays Alexandra Rover, an agoraphobic author of a popular young-adult adventure series.

First, I hate sitting in the movie theater watching stories about authors--usually because I'm the only one laughing at a joke that no one else really gets. Case in point, remember National Treasure 2 when the kid (whose name currently escapes me) is sitting at a book signing that no one is attending (see my earlier blog regarding those), and then he's trying to walk home holding all of his advertising paraphernalia including his life-sized poster of himself? Yeah, I was dying of asphyxiation in the theater, unable to inhale from laughing so hard, while the rest of the audience was yawning. (Many of you have seen my big movie-theater-style 2' by 3' heavy, awkward poster of my book cover that I haul around everywhere. I can't tell you how many times that thing has given me tons of problems.)

But back to the subject. Jodie Foster plays an eccentric author, and watching her made me think of the typical "eccentric author afraid to go out of the house" cliche that so many movies use. (See Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets for more details.) Some of the things she did were very eccentric--not like me at all--and then some of the things... Let's just say they hit a little to close to home.

So I've decided to compare myself to Alexandra Rover to see if I'm really as nutty as Hollywood says I should be. We'll start from the nuttiest to the not so nuttiest.

  • Having living, breathing A-Beautiful-Mind-esque conversations with a non-existent character. Nope. I'm safe there. My characters have never appeared before me in flesh and blood. And they don't talk to me, either. I do have some author friends who say their characters talk to them and tell them things like "I'm not going to do that," but mine don't. I have to figure them out on my own.
  • Being afraid to leave the house. Um, ah, define the terms please. Honestly, I'm not afraid to leave the house, but I am driven to write. Therefore, I can technically spend two to three days inside my house and never go out except to jog and literally never speak to anyone except my husband. A few years ago, we moved to Orlando for a few months, and I made no friends because I stayed inside and wrote the whole time (and I finished the first draft of A Prophecy Forgotten: Book I of the Elysian Chronicles). (This is why I force myself to do things with other people--so I won't become Hollywood-cliche-author.)
  • Obsession with hand sanitizer. Nope. Not me. I actually had another author tell me I should use it more at Science Fiction/Fantasy Conventions because I'm shaking so many hands (that was after I caught a cold at OmegaCon), but I prefer exercising my immune system to encumbering myself with smelly spray.
  • Dancing for inspiration. I have as much rhythm as the character Alexandra Rover, so do you really think I'm going put whatever flies are on the wall watching me through that kind of torture? For inspiration, I go to Starbucks or PJ's Coffee and watch all of you fine people meander about.
  • Obsession with Progresso soup. Oh dear. Here we go. Let me explain. Soup in a can doesn't go bad; it doesn't need to be refrigerated; and it only takes 2 minutes to heat. (It also makes you feel warm and cozy.) So just because I used to keep over twenty cans of Campbell's Home-style Chicken Noodle Soup hidden in my cubicle at work, complete with my bowl, spoon, and a various assortment of fine teas, does not mean that I am eccentric! It was just an easy way to make lunch--and it was low-fat and tasty. (Seriously, I almost died when they showed the Progresso soup thing.)
  • The need to have everything on the desk straight. When I'm in work mode, every inch of space within a ten foot radius of me gets destroyed. That being said, however, I have to admit that when I saw Jodie Foster adjust some of the stuff on her desk... See, I have this OCD side of me that only a few of you know about. (Stuart Clark, no comments.) On my desk right now, I've got all of my "to do" stuff stuffed into my to-do box. I've also got my sandwich plate from dinner, a cup, a stapler, an important CD about conspiracy theories and secret societies that I have to look at for Book III (and some of Out of the Shadows), my computer, and my time-management calender open so it can watch me rebel against it by blogging instead of "doing taxes." (Don't say a word, Sasha.) Oh, and a little bowl that held wasabi peas this morning. (Do you know if you put five wasabi peas in your mouth at once and keep your lips closed, you will enter another dimension?) So all that stuff is normal stuff, meaning I'm not eccentric... Okay, okay! I'll talk! I admit it! I forgot to tell you about the four round Republic of Tea canisters (which I bought so they would all match) that hold--separately, it must be separately and none of them can mix--my red editing pens (Paper Mate Flare ONLY), colored pencils, blue and black BIC ball point pens (only BIC--NOTHING else because that would tilt the earth off its axis and kill us all) and my mechanical pencils, which I allow to be different long as they are all Pentel. And all four canisters are positioned around the computer symmetrically--I actually put my Bobby Richardson signed baseball somewhere else to preserve the balance. Oh, and I have a little two sided ceramic paper clip holder that holds jumbo paper clips on one side and regular paper clips on the other--no plastic ones and no colored rubber-coated ones, no gold executive ones, ONLY SILVER! I do not accept any paper clips that aren't silver.And the paper clip sizes can't mix or... I've never found out what would happen if they mixed, but it would be worse than the world tilting off its axis.
  • Motion Sickness. That has nothing to do with being eccentric! It has to do with having ear problems when I was a kid and then breaking my nose ten years ago! Get a life. Who do you think you are, anyway? (Oh dear, now I'm holding an imaginary conversation with myself...)

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