By Vlad Popescu
Putting thoughts on a piece of paper is the ultimate way to free yourself of whatever you need to be freed of. You can address whoever you want to. You can address no one, or everyone. But every single time you do it, you talk to yourself too. You reflect deep within you, and you leave a part of yourself on that piece of paper.
Whether a writer puts his thoughts on paper for screen, for a newspaper, or for a thesis, there are certain reasons why he will express every idea in a certain way. As part of his audience, how compelling is it to know his reasons behind every aspect of his work? The idea of knowing the process sounds so great that we sometimes forget the fact that not everything in a written work is planned. Normally, a writer should be able to explain his thinking and main ideas along the way through generalization, it’s a necessity. However, the magic happens when the main ideas that were planned tie themselves with the unplanned that shouldn’t be explained.
I recently had the pleasure to watch the best tribute to telling stories I’ve seen so far. “The French Dispatch” showed how compelling journalism can be, although it was a love-letter to all types of storytelling. Being a writer himself, Wes Anderson managed to capture what I mentioned in the previous paragraph through the relationship between the owner of The French Dispatch and his journalists. I saw this idea clearly expressed through the picture’s third story, “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner”.
A frequent thing among writers is showing themselves through an alter ego that makes the decisions the writer would, talks like the writer does, and generally acts like the writer does. Every storyteller eventually arrives to that state, as every storyteller’s work has a certain amount of personal meaning or touch. This way, the flow of the story only has an explanation in the writer’s mind.
Writing and telling stories have been a significant part of how I chose to spend my time in the past few years, and not exposing reasons that really only have an explanation in my mind has been a personal preference ever since. I stumbled upon that in both writing for the screen and essays. However, writing for the screen made me confront that issue more often given the fact that it is all storytelling. Every movement, style, or way of addressing another character had to be planned and I had to have written that for a very strong and hidden reason. And every time, none of that was healthy for the flow of the story, and I just had to let the feelings write however they knew better, letting the unplanned combine with the planned.
Thinking of “The French Dispatch”, I saw the three stories that make up the movie as centered around a character. All were initially meant to tell a person’s story, but none of the three writers that published them knew in which way. And from that point on, it was all the unplanned. After Arthur Howitzer’s review, they would all get the last addition before leaving his office: “Make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose.”
*The author of this essay is a student at Tallulah Falls School, GA