Writing inspirations: movies and TV

One of the worst things they don't tell you about parenting is that you don't have time to binge watch the way you used to before kids. While it was sometimes possible when our son was a newborn (he slept the entire first month and then never again, it seems), we are now forced to space out our Hulu and Netflix watching into longer periods of time. For example, we've been watching the office for about 2 years and are still only in season 7.

The Handmaid's Tale, however, I don't mind spacing out. It's pretty intense viewing. Also, this is one of the rare occasions that I find myself thinking "this is soo good" while I'm watching it. The acting, the story, the visual elements. It's perfection. I want to savor it, not devour it in a single lost afternoon.

Television and movies, when they're that good, make me experience emotions very strongly, as is the intended effect. However, I find myself seeking a way to express these feelings in a tangible way.

The first time this happened was after seeing Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, in high school. I came home after and had the urge to create something - anything - that would be able to show how it made me feel. I had an electric car for an engineering class that I was supposed to be decorating. I remember sitting there with this tiny car and two tubes of paint, frustrated that it didn't look the way the movie had made me feel.

More recently, I watched Brooklyn. Having been a long-term expat, this was particularly moving. It's also just a beautiful movie. It made me cry, which I haven't done in ages at a movie. I couldn't tell if it was from happiness or sadness, or something else.

The common theme in all of these experiences is that they make me feel. And I'd like to write something that makes people feel. Writing can get very formulaic. You plot, and you plan, and you count words. Sometimes I forget that the point is to make people feel.

Sometimes, as I'm sitting in the dark in my living room, exhausted from the emotional roller coaster I just went through, I wonder why I do this to myself (though really, it's Hulu who has done this to me). Why do I seek out the experience of feeling things so intensely, when it can be both so painful and strange?

It's because tapping into that part of myself is incredibly important, even though it's hard for me. Writers need to feel.