Writer’s Desk: Be Flexible

Writers have habits. Or they don’t, and then feel that if they did stick to a schedule, then the words would come. In the interest of enforcing discipline, routines are probably going to be helpful. That is why so many writers follow them. But hewing to very strict habits every day of one’s life can feel a little too much like work.

Consider the habits of Thomas Hardy (Tess of the d’Ubervilles), described in the magazine The Writer:

Thomas Hardy prefers the night for working, but finds the use of daytime advisable, as a rule. He follows no plan as to outline, and uses no stimulant excepting tea. His habit is to remove boots or slippers as a preliminary to work. He has no definite hours for writing, and only occasionally works against his will.

Excepting his ill-advised strict adherence to tea, which can be excused by his British heritage, this is all perfectly sensible advice.

Choose whatever time works best for you. And take your shoes off first.

New in Theaters: ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’

Carey Mulligan and dog in 'Far from the Madding Crowd' (Fox Searchlight)
Carey Mulligan and dog in ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ (Fox Searchlight)

postimageimage-ffmc-ffmc_blogIn Thomas Vinterberg’s take on Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, the beautiful outfits and gorgeous Dorset vistas don’t detract a bit from a story about a strong-willed woman willing to rebuff all suitors, no matter how well-suited they might seem.

My review is at PopMatters:

Some people have all the luck. Take Bathsheba Everdere (Carey Mulligan), the willful heroine in Thomas Vintenberg’s gleamingly romantic adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. Mulligan’s perceptive performance gives some hint of Bathsheba’s internal anxieties, but in the main, she is blessed and seems to know it. In 1870 Dorset, at a time in Europe when it was by no means uncommon to fall sick and die or starve to death simply for lack of funds, she is beautiful and unattached, a young woman free to find her way in the world. This comes before her surprise inheritance…

Here’s the trailer, feast your eyes:

New in Theaters: ‘Trishna’

It’s a shame that Michael Winterbottom thought to set his modernized Tess of the d’Urbervilles in India instead of in England, or another Western nation. This isn’t because he doesn’t know how to use South Asia as a setting (he does) or because today’s India doesn’t provide a highly relevant analogy for many of the class issues in Thomas Hardy’s novel (it does). But by shifting Hardy’s story from England 1891 to a developing nation, it lets viewers off the hook…

Trishna is playing now in limited release, and while it definitely has its faults is still an undeniably gorgeous and effective romantic melodrama of the kind that don’t seem to get made that much anymore. My review is PopMatters.