• Richard Scrimger

saving private scrimger


They say that war is vast stretches of boredom punctuated by short periods of intense fear. Nothing happens, nothing happens, and then suddenly EVERYTHING is happening and maybe you don't even survive to the next bit where nothing happens. Sounds about right to me. I imagine firefighting to be something like that. And police work. Stacks of forms to fill out, months of practicing, and then maybe an hour when it's all on the line. Makes for good drama, whether you focus on the build up or the action, because the audience knows that at any given point the characters could be involved in a life-or-death struggle.


The stakes are high for doctors and lawyers too -- if they make a mistake, people die or go to jail. And these profesionals live intensely collegial lives, fighting and bonding with each other in the workplace. The human drama unfolds from nine to five. Again, good theater.


Writing is different. For all the romance associated with the arts, the daily life of the artist makes lousy viewing. I've been busy as hell for the last few days, but it occurs to me that nothing about my working life could be used in a story. What did I do? you ask. Well, I tapped away on this keyboard. That's what I do when I'm writing. When the work is going well, I am tapping away at the keyboard, muttering phrases out loud and nodding to myself. When it's going badly, I am tapping a little more slowly, muttering profanities, and getting up from the keyboard to make another cup of coffee. In between times, when I'm not tapping away, I am staring into space.

That's it. And that's all of it. I mean, I don't even talk to anyone. No wonder that Ridley Scott is not out there with a writing life movie. (Tap! Stare! Yawn!) Yes, that is a Jane Austen action figure in the picture. It is marketed ironically.


The only way you can sell a creative biopic is to set the story away from the typewriter or the easel. It helps if the artist has a surprising and deeply engaging personal life -- fighting hard, loving disastrously, keeping crocodiles in the bath tub. Sadly for you, reading this, my extra-curricular life is only marginally more interesting than my working life.


The best I can hope for is a spot in someone else's story. If a fire breaks out at my place, I could get a supporting role in some firefighter's triumph and/or tragedy. If a war breaks out at my place, I could become the object of a mission. Saving Scrimger. I like it.

OK, now I have to get back to work. Don't bother looking -- there's nothing to see here.

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Richard Scrimger | scrimgerr@gmail.com | Toronto, ON, Canada