Friday, December 5, 2008

Last Night

My girls had been tucked in, misterwrites wasn't home yet, and my time was my own. I had a tough choice to make. I wanted to write, because I hadn't had the chance all day. But I also wanted to watch some of my favorite shows (read: the only ones I ever catch on a regular basis).

So I considered my options carefully. Writing needed to take precedence, because I'm determined to make a huge effort with it this month. But man, I really wanted to watch The Office (so ridiculously hilarious!) and ER (sucked me in this season). It's such a massive decision. Will my world slow to a crawl if I miss an episode? Will my mind implode if I don't write the next section of chapter two?

During my gut-turning deliberation, I remembered how my husband always asks why I watch "crap shows." (Just for the record, it's the hour-long dramas he refers to.) This question is usually preceded by my distress over a fictional storyline (or that Law & Order sound: dng dng). He doesn't understand the draw. And, for awhile, I didn't either. But then an episode of ER hit home. The plot was so wrenching, the characters so riveting, that as I blubbered for breath and blew my nose, it dawned on me. It's the emotional ride.

And what's a writer if not one who enjoys an emotional ride?

I like it when shows (movies, what have you) make me feel: Elation over a victorious moment, indignation over circumstance, a tickle down to my funny bone. Just like a good book. And allowing myself that ride opens up possibility, shows me potential. It all comes down to, as I've mentioned before, what goes into our reserve of thoughts and feelings, for our writing. So, in essence, I could treat watching ER as research. Or, I could forego the new episodes, draw on my previously-acquired reserve, and write.

What did I do? What anyone this day and age would do, of course.

I plopped in front of the tv with my laptop on, WIP open. It was the best of both worlds.

17 comments:

Joanne said...

One of the benefits of working from home - the best of both worlds. I have a funny feeling that you wouldn't have been fully present with your WIP otherwise, wondering what you were missing! Hope you enjoyed your shows!

Anonymous said...

I too watched ER last night. My emotions were high.

~Heather

Terri Tiffany said...

LOL For me it is Grey's Anatomy and my husband thinks too it is a crap show! :) But I love how the it carries a theme throughout and how I am drawn to the drama and the emotions as well!
I am not getting much writing done this month and it is starting to bother me. I am hoping next week will be better.

WendyCinNYC said...

My stupid CABLE is out AGAIN, so I didn't get to enjoy my crap shows. My husband is on a business trip AGAIN and I do so look forward to watching things like Top Chef and Project Runway without his commentary.

I did my Christmas cards. Super fun.

Janet said...

You can write while watching TV? ???

Melanie Avila said...

I thought I was one of the last people who likes ER. Unfortunately I never see the current episodes, but it is in syndication here.

I love your explanation for what we as writers gain from shows like that. You can't live in a bubble and expect to affect people! And I don't care what my husband says, the History & Discover Channels are not the same thing. ;)

Janna Qualman said...

Joanne - You're right, I think. My mind would have been elsewhere if I hadn't given in to watch the shows. They were great, btw!

Heather - I wish it had ended clearer!

Terri - Try not to be too hard on yourself. You seem to go full tilt so frequently, that I think a break is okay (especially during the holiday season!).

Wendy - Oh, I hate that! So frustrating - though at least you did get your cards done, right?

Janet - Commercials breaks are good for something, it turns out. :P

Melanie - So funny you referenced History and Discovery! Those are what my hubby watches, too, and I had a blurb about them in my post, which I deleted 'cuz it didn't really fit. :)

Melissa Marsh said...

Wow - I'm amazed! I don't think I could write while watching t.v. (although I have done it with it on in the background - usually kids' shows).

I agree that watching movies and t.v. can deepend our emotional understanding of the world - and we as writers can definitely learn some valuable lessons from them.

kimmirich said...

Janna, I have, I believe an emotional attachment to one show only, Survivor. Yes, I'll call it an emotional. Never mind the lack of plot, etc, it's a mindless, no effort on my part... it has become a comfort after years of watching. Make sense?
hugs

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, I like those channels, but you can't beat a couple hours of good old dramas and comedies.

Travis Erwin said...

We all have our guilty pleasures.

Ang said...

I hear you completely. I only watch a few shows...The Starter Wife and Privileged. I cannot write in total silence. I either have music going or at least some background noise from our tv or the boys' (and this includes my husband)video games. Hope you enjoyed your shows.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Oh yeah, good choice! Love me some of those "doink doink" shows too, and like Wendy, the reality contest shows. :)

thedomesticfringe said...

Good for you! Thank God for laptops.

Linda said...

One word - DVR (okay, that's not really a word, but you get the picture). I record anything I want to watch so I can watch it on MY time. I can skip commercials which is another bonus.

Barbara said...

I've nominated you for an award. Stop by my blog and see!

aaroncrocco said...

Compromise! I like it! :-) FYI, I'm a slave to my TiVo.