I recently watched a Taiwanese romantic drama, The Personals, directed by Kuo Fu Chen. The film is about a successful ophthalmologist Du Jia Zhen (played by Rene Liu) placing a personal ad on newspapers in her search for a husband. I thought it was a great movie that presented the character of a successful woman seeking marriage through what would be considered an unusual way. I was interested in the structure of the film, where each date is a short story of its own and tied together by Jia Zhen’s quest. In each meeting, we see different aspects of her personality, her intelligence and charm, as well as what scares her or makes her uncomfortable. The story appears to be an anthology with narrative overlaps.
When I undertake a big writing project, I watch films, look at art and pretty things, to feed my creative fire. In the last quarter of 2020, I undertook two major projects. During the rest in between projects, I watched Apichatpong Weersethakul’s Mysterious Object at Noon (2000) and Chungking Express (1994). Mysterious Object at Noon is what I would consider a generous film in terms of how it inspired me to think and approach storytelling as a travelling narrative that transforms as its wanders from one ear to another. Chungking Express created a lasting portrayal of human emotions as opposed to fiction’s traditional definition as about being human action. It’s what I mean when I say describe anything as a vibe— I feel as I see and this is what constitutes the experience. I look to films to inspire me about writing because there are things you can do in film/visual narrative that would not translate and be as successful in written narrative. For instance, in The Personals, on Jia Zhen’s first date, the man talks about his work at a computer factory and the scene cut from a dining room to the factory— what writing style could achieve that? (It reminds me of the editing style of Strangebrew, a situational comedy reality/travelogue from the Philippines.) But I think that this speaks more about the additional work I have to do mastering fiction writing. I’m also pretty sure my film professors in college and graduate school have a very simple way of verbalizing everything I have said so far, and noting that this is not too uncommon among writers and artists. But these ruminations on drawing inspiration from film for my writing are similar to how a baby one day realize that they have legs and must walk with it.
I also don’t think much about the other aspects of my process, and this blog for the most part is for me to draw attention to what other things inform my work, to think about them as I go along, and to share them with an audience. It is to question what intentions I begin with in writing and to be mindful of them. In the past years, I’ve been working on developing a neutral inner voice. With some help, I realized that wanting to have a supportive inner voice leans towards the tendency to have a voice that will attack me because of self-judgment. Constantly, I want to speak and write with sincere and generous intentions. When I speak in writing to my reader what are my intentions, what would I like to impart? In the same vein, when I speak to myself, what is my intention for myself?