I write alone in my office, either with the tv on as background noise, or I’m listening to Fistful of Soundtracks on iTunes Radio. It’s a great way to get inspired, to feel the words pound though your fingers into the keyboard.
Tonight, two of the three Bourne movies are on. And I’ve watched the first two Bournes — or parts of them — while I’ve been writing The Enigma Club. Many years ago, I tried to read a couple of Robert Ludlum novels and found them boring as shit. But the Bourne movies, at least the first, ostensibly based on his novel, are pretty good. I still haven’t seen a whole movie from start to finish, and right now the third is on, Bourne Ultimatum, and it’s slower and much different from the first two.
Slow enough for me to stop caring.
Don’t get me wrong. I love slow movies — if being slow is an intrinsic part of the storytelling. The original version of Close Encounters is, to me, far better than the later Expanded edition. Because it is slower, more deliberate, and more serious. I love the first two Godfathers and All the President’s Men and Andromeda Strain because they are both thoughtful and slow AND, of course, dramatic.
This type of storytelling and music — slow, sweeping, dramatic — helps me write. Stephen King writes while listening to rock and roll. I love the blues, but I can’t listen to it and write — I get too involved in the music, not the writing.
And so The Bourne Ultimatum is slow — but it is also unengaging and dull, as opposed to the other slow films that, conversely, thrill me.
I will give Ludlum another chance, 30 years later, and get the Bourne books (the ones that he wrote, not the ones written since he died) from a used bookstore. But I won’t give Bourne Movie #3 a chance. They already screwed it up — stretching a decent idea way too far and filling it with meaningless words and a padded story.
And maybe I’ll be writing soon and something else will come on that will give me a drumbeat, a thrill, deep in my soul. The Avengers. Dark Shadows. Star Trek. Hammer’s Dracula movies. Night Stalker. Rich Man, Poor Man. Hill Street Blues. St. Elsewhere. Twin Peaks. Something to work as the soundtrack in my heart.
We all need background noise.
Sometimes it helps define us.