Full disclosure: as our car approached the set, I turned
to my husband and said, "I feel like I'm going to throw up." I mean, I
spend most of my time in front of a screen. Set visits to the movie
adaptation of the words I scrawled over winter break three years ago
were never something I was anticipating. On the way there, I felt
totally unprepared for what was coming, and that meant a little bit of
Spoiler alert: I didn't throw up. Instead, I calmed down, which is better.
Here's the deal: I want your first experience with this
stuff, in all its detail, to be as amazing as mine was, so I'm not going
to try to capture it all for you here. I'm just going to tell you,
generally, what I did and how I reacted to everything. Okay? Okay.
When I first got there, they were setting up to shoot the
knife-throwing scene. (What a great day to go, right?) I spent a few
seconds marveling at everything, then went back to "video village"
(which is where director/producer/etc. types watch the filming on
screens in real time, with headphones).
There, I abruptly got all
misty-eyed, because THEY MADE ME A CHAIR. You know, one of those
director's chairs, with my name on it. It's weird what kinds of things
hit you the hardest in these situations. For me it's usually the little things.
Shortly after that I met the Garrett, Master of Stunts and
Fights (that's not his official title, but it's what I now call him in
my mind), who told me about developing a particular fighting style for
the movie and taught me the Dauntless stance. I even punched a punching
bag. And nearly hurt my hand, because I am a marshmallow. (Garrett is
I also got to see the Pit, a train car, and an Abnegation
house, about which I can only say: !!! One of the best parts of the day was that I
got to meet all the craftsmen who are working on the sets after seeing
their impeccable work. I was so impressed with how much effort and
thought went into everything I saw, so it was really fantastic to meet
the people who were making it happen.
Then the fashion geek (is that a thing? I suspect it is
not) inside me freaked out, because COSTUMES. I've been curious to see
what they would do with costumes, because creating outfits that are
entirely one or two colors is not an easy task, sorry guys. But...damn.
Did they do it. I may or may not be planning an elaborate heist in which
I sneak into the area after dark and steal some clothes. (Note: that is
a joke. *hides heist plans in a drawer*)
After that we returned to the knife-throwing set and I
watched the scene...over and over again, because, you know, that's how shooting
movies works! Strangely this did not get
boring for me (even though I've written that scene from two different
POVs and I've probably read it over 100 times), which is a credit to
everyone involved with it. I can't say much without spoiling things, but I will say that the scene is very true to the book.
I know you're probably mostly interested in the cast,
because that's who you'll actually see on the screen. Let me first say that everyone was so nice, despite the fact that, for the first half of the
day, I was too stunned to form coherent sentences. The people I talked to: Shailene
Woodley (Tris), Theo James (Four), Jai Courtney (Eric), Christian Madsen
(Al), Miles Teller (Peter), Ben Lamb (Edward), Ben Lloyd Hughes (Will),
Zoe Kravitz (Christina), Amy Newbold (Molly). Basically, the whole Dauntless gang.
And they were all awesome. What can I tell you? They were all SO GOOD in that scene.
Every time! Which is probably why I was able to watch it so many times!
Without getting tired of it! Exclamation points!
I feel like the gushing is becoming extreme, so I'm going
to cut myself off. Basically, I came away with one thought at the end of the day, which is
that this adaptation is incredibly thoughtful, from things like fabric
and building materials and light fixtures to directing and casting and
acting and script.
I want to say I can't wait until it's in theaters, but I
can-- I want to take in as much of this process as I can, because it's
amazing and I'm so fortunate to be able to watch it happen.
Now, to address something else-- the issue of Uriah. Some
of you may have heard, and some may not, that Uriah won't be cast until
the second movie, if we are fortunate enough to make another one. It is
understandably disappointing when a favorite character doesn't make it
on screen. However, what I do think is encouraging is that the people
working on the movie are taking the role of Uriah so seriously and
taking so much care to get him right.
And even though the particulars will be a little bit
different, we still get the zipline scene, guys! Which I, for one, am
really excited to see.
The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint The greats were great 'cause they painted a lot.
The simplest answer to "what advice do you have for young writers/writers generally?" is "just write more." No matter how many times we hear it, we still seek out other answers, wanting them to inspire some kind of breakthrough. Even after three books I still dig through the Internet or writing books searching for some other answer, but the hard one is the simplest one is the longest term one is the best one-- return to the keys or the notepad or whatever
you use to write and do it, and then do it again.
It's like a marriage-- some days it's magic and it just works. Some days it feels hard. And some days it feels like trying to drill a hole through metal with a sewing needle. But as with marriage, what helps you through those impossible days is the commitment of time. When I married him, I promised him time, all the time I was able to give him, and he promised me the same. I promised to devote myself to learning the depth of him instead of experiencing the breadth of other people. And to the craft of writing, I also promise time and devotion and learning. A lifetime of practice, as much as I can give it.
Sometimes I feel like I'm just wearing away at my days, pushing toward this goal or that event or that deadline, and I forget to enjoy what I'm doing while I'm doing it. And I do enjoy what I'm doing, every word in every line, every line on every page. The work of writing is what I love, tangling my thoughts together and then struggling to untangle them. I even love the constant failure and the constant reminder that working through failure is possible and necessary and even lovely. It's so much like life, love, friendship in that way.
Put those hours in and look what you can get
Nothing that you can hold, but everything that it is.
With this last book I got the gift of time, a full year and a half to make it happen. And about halfway through the process, I realized that time was making it possible for me to love what I was doing while I was doing it, instead of just running toward a deadline as fast as I could. The time let the book steep in me, so to speak, building strength, and even now that I have been through several rounds of revisions I'm ready, even excited, to read through it again. (It helps that this time it's copyedits, my favorite things.)
I'm not here to discuss the book itself, or build it up, or dramatize it-- it will be a creative failure in some ways and a creative success in others and that's just the way books work. But what I'm talking about, here, is the one area in which this work will never be a failure: the process. In the process, I was open to criticism but I still knew what was important to me; I worked at a steady pace and I stopped when I needed some time to think; I let myself rest and I made myself work; and I loved it, and I did it every day.
I heard "Ten Thousand Hours" yesterday and those lines up above--put those hours in and look what you can get/nothing that you can hold but everything that it is-- really struck me. Working without resentment toward that work, and the time it takes, is important for all writers to learn. When you finish a story, all that work doesn't add up to something that you can grasp, that you can see-- even if you get a finished book at the end, it's not equal to the hours. But what you will get is the work itself, the joy and the peace and the struggle of it. For me, this last book was a quiet winter, a series of cold walks to and from the local coffee shop, a giant stack of paper next to my Christmas tree, a secret I kept even from my family and friends, a few teary-eyed nights on the couch as I read through the end again and again, and a realization that I have changed and so have the things I am interested in writing about, even though I wrote about the same characters.
I don't really have a point here. I was just thinking today, look what I got from that time and that work-- days that I loved living, words that I loved writing, work that I loved doing. It's not bad. Not bad at all.
Ray Stevenson will be playing Marcus, and Mekhi Phifer will be playing Max!
I'm pretty excited! I think Ray and Mekhi are spot on, great matches for the Marcus and Max in my head.
Also, yes, shooting did in fact BEGIN TODAY.
still seems so unreal to me that any of this is happening. Every time I
experience something that makes it feel more real, I go through this
period of shock like I'm the kid in that David After Dentist video: