a comfortable chair, cigarettes, liquor, and a hero

I’ve seen (and commented on) a few blog posts recently on the general subject of writers having to find their own way and figure out what works for them.

This has reminded me of a story.

There was an actor and comedian named Jackie Gleason. I don’t know how well he’s known now, other than for The Honeymooners, which I’m sure is still in reruns somewhere. But he had a variety show on television during the 1960s (after The Honeymooners) and, as with most shows of that type, he started each episode with a monologue.

Which he was never satisfied with. It always seemed uncomfortable for him. Finally, somebody who had known him for years said, “Jackie, you’re doing the monologue standing up. That’s not right for you. You’re not a standing-up kind of guy.”

So, the next show he opened with a monologue but sitting down. He had a comfortable armchair, and a little table to hold his cigarettes, an ashtray, and a beverage (almost certainly alcoholic). That was right for him.

Every other standup comedian works standing up (it’s even in the name), but that doesn’t mean it’s required.

I told another, related, story here: http://u-town.com/collins/?p=3964

 
So, I’m working along on my new story, and I had an idea that some things would end up unresolved, but then I thought of a third act which would resolve them.

But now I’m writing a scene designed to get the story there and one character is acting very differently than I expected. She just got some very bad news, and I thought she’d reveal certain things to some other characters. But instead she’s stepping up to deal with the problem herself, like the hero she is, a better hero than even I thought she was. She’s just screwed up my entire plan, and a lot of my scenes may have to get scrapped (and now I have no idea where this thing is going), but mostly I’m just proud.

She’s a hero, and I’m proud to have created her.

(And besides, I’m pretty used to having no idea where a story is going. 🙂 )

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