I’m in the middle of writing Thanks for the Memories. Right now, I’m somewhere in that stage between draft one and draft two, where it gets kind of ugly and discouraging and the pieces aren’t coming together and you feel like whining and stumbling around the house with your lip pooched out, and lucky you are that She Who Must Be Obeyed isn’t home, ‘cause you’d be told to wash dishes or mow the lawn until you quit being childish.
Then, you read a scene, and when you finish you realize you have a piece of the true thread of the story, and that thread reaches forward and backward along the story line, and for some reason when that happened to me just now I thought of a scene in one of my all-time favorite movies.
If you’ve never seen “The Professionals,” made in 1966 and starring Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, and Jack Palance, put it in the slot for the next movie night. It’s a desperado film pure and simple, set against the backdrop of Mexico in 1916. There is a moment that spoke to me the first time I saw the movie, decades ago, and speaks to me even now across all the spacetime intervening.
What Captain Jesus Raza, played by Jack Palance, says about how one sees the revolution, is equally true about writing. I could write that scene as two writers in a bar, but that wouldn’t be nearly as dramatic. “We die [keep writing] because we are committed.” Here’s a link to a clip of that scene.
But be sure to watch the movie! It’s a classic.