Writing With Passion and Purpose

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I finally got a chance to watch the biopic about screenwriter and author Dalton Trumbo and am glad I did. Bryan Cranston served his real life model well by portraying this Hollywood blacklist member as a man of principle. While I disdain communism for lots of reasons, I do believe in free speech and understand that the politically charged era of the late 1940’s was beyond difficult for many who were ousted for their views.

Regardless of one’s philosophy, an aspiring writer can readily look to this prolific artist for lessons about perseverance and discipline. According to Biography.com, Dalton Trumbo was “one of the most successful and sought after writers in Hollywood.” Ginger Rogers, Spencer Tracy, Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas and Audrey Hepburn are a few of the boffo movie stars who gave cinematic voice to his ideas. After serving almost a year in prison for contempt, he found work by writing under pseudonyms. His script for Roman Holiday won an Oscar although it “was fronted by his friend, screenwriter Ian McClellan Hunter, who was himself later blacklisted.” (It was later posthumously awarded to its rightful owner.) He won another Oscar for The Brave One although the official winner was someone he called Robert Rich. About a decade later, he was finally able to pen under his real name for movies such as Exodus and Spartacus that endure as classics.

Presumably Mr. Dalton was motivated by a need to earn a living but one senses that he likewise loved to write, always had something to say and couldn’t wait to get started. This notion of “let’s go” came to mind this morning as I read “The Storyteller” by Maggie Shayne (Romance Writers Report, July 2016). Her take is that writers MUST bring words to life as their calling to “convey the tales of our people …” and connect one another to “our shared past and to our imagined future.” She adds that every writer should think about what and how their stories will contribute and that potentially changing lives of readers is “the best feeling in the world.”

I heartily concur with both Mr. Trumbo and Ms. Shayne. Making a difference matters. On that positive note, I’m off to attend ThrillerFest 2016 in New York City. Ciao!