“Here’s to the Mess We Make”

Last night I watched La La Land.

For the second time.

And as I watched it for this second time, I was thinking to myself, I could easily watch this again. And this from someone who rarely watches movies (at all) leave alone twice!

I know what you’re thinking–sheesh! this girl has no taste, what a cornball! Maybe so. Maybe I do have terrible taste. My favorite movie is, after all, Love Actually. But since I am not in the habit of defending my tastes (or apologizing for them), I find myself at the page, this page, trying to figure out what it is about this movie that captivated me so.

I should probably say at the outset that I am not a Ryan Gosling fan (he seems a bit weak-chinned for my liking), nor am I a fan of Los Angeles or movie musicals or sappy love stories–boy meets girl, boy runs away, girl runs away, boy comes back, they live happily ever after. None of that. In fact, I am not a fan of film in general. Not enough presence. So by most standard metrics, I should not have liked this film. Not as much as I did.

Yet here I am. Dedicating a whole post to it.

I like that it was original. Not brave original like The Artist or bad original like The Hangover and not even original for original’s sake like The Shape of Water. But original in its genesis.

The way I see it, this movie was born out of one scene, the audition scene and song, where the protagonist is called in and asked to tell a story. Any story. And she does.

And out of that story the movie was born. Organically. All the pieces swirling about in one giant spiral of magic-dust, until some things came together and others flew off into space. Gravity settling the mass into a (primordially) coherent story. And so we have this movie.

Of course, I’m probably wrong. But who cares. That’s how it seemed to me. And I loved it.

It gave me hope for my writing. Hope that this mass of sketches that I am gathering, these disparate fragments, arms of a spiral, magic-dust, will one day come together and call itself, Book.

I’ve always thought books are born like babies–egg, embryo, fetus, child–in ever-expanding proportion from idea to publication. Linear. Cumulative. Coherent.

But are they?

What if they are born like universes? Random. Chaotic. Accident.




Maybe God was just sketching. Doodling. Then casting pages aside. Done. Done. Done.

Maybe the pictures themselves–through some mysterious intelligence–chose each other. Held hands. And journeyed together.





And maybe I live in La La Land.

“Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make”



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Categories: On Writing

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9 replies

  1. Very nice. Organic chaos, I like it. Shake up those pictures holding hands and grab onto their offspring.
    Watch (and have faith) that the group will reorganize around a ‘strange’ (unknown) attraction. Fortunately, one can never predict the betterment of the reorganization.
    Well done Tina, I feel you.

  2. Maybe books are born like universes. Love that!

  3. I love the idea of books being born like universes! A very hopeful concept. And I also love Lala Land and Love actually, so I think you have exquisite taste.

  4. Gosh, I think I may be one of the few who hasn’t seen the movie. If watching and mulling about it’s meaning results in a great post, perhaps I shall watch the movie. I love the image of books born like universes!

  5. Love this Tina–and love the movie, not ashamed to say…and I also used to think the process of writing the book mirrored the final linear, through line of the finished book’s structure…but no, the messy particulars of the process/life lived behind the scenes go into cocoon and then reform with wings we couldn’t have imagined, I think. It’s another one of those faith walk processes…maybe some folks move from idea to outline to book. I’m not one of them…I’m a cross-pollinator zig zagger…I raise my tea to you! Hello book, Tina! xoxo

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