The Power of Adaptation

This should be the keyword of the modern writer, adaptation. It’s the coolest, creepiest and most useful feature of all kickass organisms and it should definitely be a default skill of the modern writer, because it means you “figure out how to thrive in the world” and you push through ahead of anyone who doesn’t.

Seriously. Adaptation isn’t easy and sure as hell isn’t painless, but it’s absolutely necessary, and once you accept it and learn to surf the wave masterfully, your life will be made of awesome.

And it beats the hell out of self-righteous loathing of one’s unfair environment for its resistance to heed one’s sense of entitlement. Excuse the slap, but I just need to say this since it’s really started to get on my nerves lately. Here’s to all the bitter, frustrated writers spitting bile into the world—if you lovely guys and gals don’t up your game instead of just turning up your volume, you’re gonna get left behind to throw your little tantrums alone in the dust. True story. Please snap out of it, and quit your bitching. Give yourself and us something new and meaningful instead.

Moving on.

What kicked the word adaptation back to the front of my mind is also the fact that I’ve recently watched the movie Adaptation, and it’s one of the most brilliant movies I’ve seen. It’s a witty incursion into the writer’s struggles and the convolutions of his mind, with all its quirks, fears and creative geysers. It’s also a beautiful portrayal of how important it is to be true to yourself and what you’re putting out there as your art, and to move away from fixations in order to thrive.

Turned into a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman after Susan Orlean’s bookย The Orchid Thief and directed byย Spike Jonze, the movie features Nicholas Cage in a double role as a Hollywood screenwriter, facing Meryl Streep and the amazingย Chris Cooper, as well as a wide cameo cast.

The movie is just bursting with awesome moments, and even if some of them might seem trite if they’re experienced from the “safety” of an overpass, the way they’re embedded into the story and the weirdness of its flow is just beautiful. Add to it a lotta funny things about the toils of being a writer suffering from writer’s block and you’ve got yourself a piece of great entertainment. There even are some lessons in there, too.

I’ve seen quite a few good movies about writers, like Anonymous, Bright Star, Capote, Deconstructing Harry, Limitless, Running With Scissors, Stranger Than Fiction, and no two of them are alike. They’re all great to watch, and in some ways revelatory. Make me feel less like a freak with all these things in my head.

Can you add any other movie? Which one’s your favorite?

 

18 Replies to “The Power of Adaptation”

    1. You must have read my mind, Mood. Factotum is going to be the subject of one of my upcoming blogs. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Vero-adaptation was on my ‘to watch’ list. I’ll definitely have to move it up now. Thanks!

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      1. It’s so worth it, Tim!
        And dang, I’ve really gotta see Factotum and fast, or I can’t show my face on your blog. ๐Ÿ˜›

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    1. Of course! I didn’t think of including The Shining since all I remember of it is the sweet horror, but you’re right. And I’ve gotta see Misery too, only heard good things of it (and the book). ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Simon.

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      1. I think I’m showing my age a bit with the choices ๐Ÿ˜‰

        To explain … I went through a 12-year period with practically no TV and no movies – from 1995 until about 2008. Our eldest daughter was born in ’94, and hardly ever slept. No chance of putting anything on TV except Play School, the Wiggles, etc, etc. Plus from ’99 until 2008 I wrote, rewrote and edited about 7 novels, which didn’t leave a lot of spare time.

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      2. That’s all much better than anything that might’ve been on TV, so you’re way ahead of everyone who spent those years in front of the tube.

        I rarely watch TV, and look for movies to rent in online top lists, or hear about them from others. I guess I’m just not that much a part of TV culture, probably because I grew up without one (or a computer, or video games). ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. I must admit, I’m dreadfully behind when it comes to movies about writers/writing. I think there’s a small part of me that is somehow afraid of watching these kinds of films, though I’m not sure why. Your post is pretty timely for me though, as I’d recently recognized that weird hesitation and was planning on tackling it head on. So you’ve helped me build the list for my upcoming writer movie marathon. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

    And of course, your words about adaptation are spot on. It can be tough to embrace adaptation considering how quickly things are changing these days, but it’s essential to long term success in just about any field, but especially one like ours.

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    1. Thanks, James. Change is unavoidable, might as well be to our advantage through some purposeful adaptation, than random scarring. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Hm… afraid of watching movies about writers, eh? Well, that’s gotta change. Start with Stranger Than Fiction, it’s both funny and dramatic, and no matter your tastes in movies, you’re bound to like it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. “Get Shorty” is not a movie about writing novels, but it is about how everyone seems to have either a script in their pocket or definite ideas about a movie that ought to be made. Oh yeah, it’s also hilarious.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Larry! Get Shorty sounds like a fun movie. I also liked Be Cool with Travolta, which is an entertaining satire directed at the music industry. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. OMG Zoe, you’re so right! How could I have forgotten that one! *face-palm* I laughed so hard at Diane’s character when she was harnessing her passionate howling and waterfalls of tears, and typing frantically away at her novel! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  3. Stranger than Fiction is definitely my favorite – Emma Thompson is fabulous, Queen Latifah made me laugh and laugh, and there are about 50 other great people in it like Dustin Hoffman and Maggie Gyllenhall… I even liked Will Farrell in this one – and he usually drives me nuts!

    As for other writer movies, I want to see The Words… Looks creepy but also interesting re: the frustration of writing and writing and feeling desperate to make it work. Plus, how can you not love Jeremy Irons?! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I never got into Adaptation, although loved The Orchid Thief, which is odd I guess. We change or we die, it’s true – a thing writers, who live in our own protected bubble, occasionally forget I think… Thanks for the reminder!

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