Wednesday, April 18, 2018

On Faith, Doubt & Arthur Miller

Huge congratulations to Kerensa Jennings whose sensational literary thriller SEAS OF SNOW was just released in paperback! Since its hardcover publication a year ago, SEAS OF SNOW has been a favorite of great book bloggers, garnering a slew of 5-star reviews. If you didn't catch it before, I interviewed Kerensa about her writing process and SEAS OF SNOW a couple of months ago (check it out).

It's actually appropriate because I wanted to blog about an amazing documentary I watched last week - Arthur Miller: Writer - which reminded me of Kerensa. What do a contemporary British novelist and a late American playwright have in common? Besides talent - and Marilyn Monroe? (I'll get to Marilyn in a minute!) Faith.

As writers, we all need faith to keep going.  We get such little positive feedback on a daily basis, we have to learn to overcome fear and doubt on our own. (btw Kerensa tweets about believing in yourself and not giving up on a daily basis, and she's proof dreams do come true!)

I always imagined, if you're lucky, you reach a certain pinnacle in your career beyond which doubt doesn't affect you. But I don't think that's true. Arthur Miller: Writer gave me a glimpse into the universal struggle all writers have with doubt.

I'm a fan of Miller's, so I had to check out the never-before-seen footage of him not at work, but at home. In his workshop. In his backyard. In the kitchen. It was filmed over decades by his daughter, so the footage was personal, warm and unguarded. Very different from the ‘serious’ interviews we’ve seen of him over the years. Obviously, Miller experienced much success in his career. But privately, there were times when he thought he’d lost his talent. That he couldn’t write anymore. (I love hearing when geniuses think they can’t write. It’s so encouraging!)

Miller also went through long periods where he wasn't a critical favorite. In the 1970s, his plays were lambasted by the critics. Maybe he was simply out of fashion or, possibly, the critics were just tired of loving him so much. But he didn’t stop writing, not even through a string of failed projects. In the 1980s and 90s, his work became de rigueur again. But you know what? In the documentary, he didn’t seem all that thrilled about it. He knew firsthand that popularity came and went, and that you shouldn’t get too attached to it. You need an internal compass to navigate your life. We all do, whether we’re writers or not.

Now to the Marilyn connection. Parts of the documentary were Mr. Miller narrating passages from Timebends, his autobiography, which I read years ago. I’ll admit at least part of the reason I was attracted to this book went beyond Death of Salesman, leaning toward my affinity for Marilyn Monroe – his one-time wife. But it was still a fascinating, enlightening account of a great writer’s life. He wrote books, short stories and screenplays, too, so regardless your interest, he has something to share. I highly recommend both the book and the documentary!

The reason this all reminded me of Kerensa, is because several weeks ago, she posted an inspirational tweet, which featured this lovely photo of Ms. Monroe (above) - and a very simple, but powerful message. I actually printed this one off, I love it so much! I'll leave it with you! (Say it ten times a day, at least!)
Here's to your story!  Stay tuned or follow me on Twitter (@SLMcInnis) for updates. Lots of news coming up about my new thriller! Thanks for stopping by! :)

Kerensa's Interview on
Seas Of Snow on Amazon Kerensa's website
Timebends on Amazon
Arthur Miller: Writer by the talented filmmaker, Rebecca Miller

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