Taking Comfort in Film and Finding Inspiration

Forgive me for the following post, which is not something I would normally write, but something I feel needs to be put on virtual paper.

The urge to write. Some of us have it; some of us don’t. But what is it, and what inspires it?

Ten minutes ago I was watching a film. Then I stopped it for a moment and read this post by Stevee at Cinematic Paradox. I enjoyed reading it, and pondered it for a few moments afterwards. Then I decided to leave my movie on pause and write a blog post, because lately I just haven’t been blogging often enough. The simple reason for why this is is that I’ve lost the inspiration that once flowed through me rapidly and without end. I’m not sure exactly when I lost it, but it periodically dips its head in and out of view; some days I feel like I could write and write incessantly, whereas on other days I can barely squeeze out a word.

As I write this, I am listening to the piece of music I usually listen to while writing. It is Fur Alina, by Arvo Part. I would like you to listen to it as you read. Perhaps it will put you in my frame of mind. It is a sparse and minimalist piece, but it inspires within me an energy that is self-renewing and plentiful. It has the power of a truly great film, to make me think and then wonder what I’m thinking about and why it’s so damn fascinating.

What is the urge to write? Where do we get inspiration from? My inspiration comes from the very thing I blog about: film. If I don’t watch a film, I can’t blog. My writing style will often reflect the last film I watched. In this case, the last film I’ve seen is Werner Herzog’s 1974 documentary The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner. This is a film about a legendary ski-jumper that breaks world records despite being inches away from death in his stunts. It has a raw power to it, and contains several slow-motion shots that can only be described as hauntingly poetic. I’m not going to review the film, but suffice it to say it has affected me this evening and the words I write come fresh from the images still in my mind.

I want to write. I want to, and yet some days I can’t. I have a series of regular features here at Southern Vision, such as the All-Time Favourites and Unforgettable Scenes series’. Those two particularly I love writing, but seem to be getting less and less attention. Whenever I write about a recent film my site traffic almost doubles, but I don’t enjoy writing about recent films as much as I do about older films or more obscure films that sadly don’t get read or paid much attention to. You could easily argue that the point of blogging is not to gain readers but to write what you want to write. True enough, but I want my posts, which often highlight obscure movies, to be read so that these films can be discovered and injected into the minds of people who might not have previously given them any thought. I write to provoke, not to simply put words on a page.

Though putting words on a page in itself can be enough. I remember fondly the first time I saw my favourite film of all time back in December, and being so dazed and thoughtless that I just wrote and wrote about my immediate reaction to the film, not really structuring my review properly. It was just something I had to write. Those posts, in my mind, are my favourites. Rather than the ones I’ve slaved over for hours and hours, I much prefer the ones written hastily, with not much worry for grammar or proper structure; simply a passion for writing so deep I could not stop letting the words flow from me and would not be distracted by anything outside the page. The inner demand to write – that is, writing being something you both need and want to get out at the same time – is often more feverish and wonderful than writing provoked by simply noticing you’re due to post something.

I don’t often get this simultaneous need and want to post, but when I do, it’s incredible. It’s like a verbal orgasm of extreme life exploding from my head and into visible language. It’s quite exhilarating. It only happens with film-related topics I’m extremely passionate about, but it is the biggest reason I blog, and if you’re a blogger who’s lucky enough to have experienced this tidal wave of emotion, you may also recognize it as a significant factor in your content output. The post I’m writing now is one of these posts. If I’m repeating myself or touching on subjects I don’t seem quite sure of, then I don’t care. These words are ones I just have to get out. I wouldn’t say I’ve been philosophically soul searching on “the nature of blogging,” but my reasoning behind my writing is something I’ve recently found infinitely more fascinating than my writing itself.

I am not going to stop blogging at this stage. There is too much pleasure and wondrous amazement in it. Recently being nominated for the Lammy Brainiac Award was another incentive; for me, a nomination is more significant than a win, because a nomination means you’ve been chosen out of thousands. A win means you’ve only been chosen out of a handful. Think about that.

Reasons to write of course extend far beyond receiving acclaim by your peers. It is a lovely feeling to be acknowledged for passionate writing, but on my list of reasons I keep writing, it is not among the top three things. An award, whether physical or not, is something I’d be grateful for, and means a hell of a lot, but it’s nowhere near as wonderful as hearing someone say something like: “I’ve just discovered your site and I’m impressed. I really like your writing and I’ll be coming back.” Comments like that are the best I’ve ever read, and there’s nothing in the blogging world that could ever beat someone saying something as simple as “You are a good blogger,” or “Great article.” Oftentimes the only thing I can reply to that is “Thanks!” but I often feel like crying when I read things like that. They express so much by saying so little, and even if they’re left by someone who really just wants to comment even though they know nothing about the post, they’re the highest praise I can ever hope to receive.

I’d like to end this post with an anecdote about the first time I saw a movie called Werckmeister Harmonies. When this 139-minute movie finished, I sat in my seat weeping, then shortly thereafter got in my car, drove out to the beach and sat there alone for about 40 minutes watching the distant tide and thinking. My train of thought during those forty minutes is something I remember clearly, but to describe it as it was would be an exercise in futility. To sum it all up, I basically thought something along the lines of “Fuck, I love film.”

Indeed. When I have lost faith, courage, perseverance or inspiration in anything in this world, I can always, always turn to film. It is the only thing I think there is in the world that I feel truly comfortable with every minute of every day, even if I’m only thinking about it. If I ever lose faith in film, I watch a movie like Werckmeister Harmonies, I let the tears start flowing, I let the words start typing, and I sink into something deep and beyond normal feeling and human comprehension.

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Posted on June 16, 2012, in Blog-Related News, Movies, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. Christian Hallbeck

    If I didn’t find your views on film interesting, I wouldn’t have continued to visit your site! The appreciation lies in this fact 😉

    It would be interesting to know which the five or ten least read posts on your site are.

    • Haha of course it does Christian! I value your reassurance and your readership, of course.

      My least read posts of all time are generally old, pathetic ones from my first few months of blogging, but there are a few like this one that I wish more people had read.

  2. Christian Hallbeck

    Yes, I can understand the disheartening feeling when you find that your readers don’t show enough interest in the scenes, films and directors you feel and write most passionately about. Your strategy in writing about more recent films, as a way to attract new viewers to the films you love and want them to see, is probably be the only way to win one or two readers over…

    As far as I can see, your readers seem surprisingly interested in your recent post on MOTHER AND SON!

    • Yeah, you hit it right on the nose Christian. Some of my most passionate posts seem to have been completely ignored. I don’t like to complain, but things like that always make me wonder.

  3. Okay, first of all this piece of music is making me feel like crying.
    Secondly, I think I know the type of moment you are describing, where a film just affects you so completely you can only weep – films that make me think the world would be a more empty place without them (that didn’t come out too well, but that’s the best I can phrase it).
    I’m just going to leave this with I love your site and reading your work. Reading your posts, and Stevee’s and everyone else’s and the conversations we all have are what make blogging and writing worth it.

    • You’re exactly right. I can think of a bunch of films that my world, at least, would be much more empty without. Thanks for your kind words, Ruth. 🙂

  4. I think I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again… your passion inspires me. It’s always great to hear about the under-appreciated films that have passed me by. I’m glad the urge to write gripped you today.

  5. Let me be honest here. I haven’t commented on your site a lot but that is basically because more often than not I haven’t seen the film and I read your posts and go like “Now, I have to see this” I have said this before as well that your site is one where I always get great recommendations. This month, I am watching quite few foreign movies from 60s and can say that your site is one of the inspirations. And I agree with Ruth – what makes blogging worth is reading each other’s work and our conversations with each other.
    So, don’t worry too much dude !! Just keep on doing your thing.

    • Thanks Shantanu! It’s nice to hear that my posts are inspiring people to check out movies they wouldn’t ordinarily consider. That’s a huge reason why I write.

  6. Wow.
    Hell of a piece. Regrettably I’m not quite sure how to articulate it, although the fight for inspiration is something I certainly piece. Needless to say, this is one of my favourite pieces of yours, and I’d love to see you return to blogging more often 🙂

    Sam 🙂

  7. Again, I’m floored by this piece.
    And I must admit, I am guilty of not commenting on the more obscure titles because I haven’t seen them. Sorry about that. But then again, how are we supposed to hear about them? Without you there would be this huge void in my film knowledge, so I say that you should keep writing them. No matter what, there will always be readers. They just may not be so vocal (which is a little disheartening, admittedly).

  8. I DO think you are a GREAT blogger,Tyler,reading your posts is like re-watching a film I love,it’s comfortable.I love your passion,and it certainly is an inspiration for me.

  9. Such a wonderful, passionate post. Here you are Tyler, all the reasons you need for blogging. It’s not about the comments. It’s about your urges that come from inside.

    This said: I was happy to see that you like me are grateful for every comment you get, even if it’s as short as “Great post”. Some bloggers frown upon such comments; I don’t. Like you I’m humbled and touched that someone made the effort to give me a nod. It means so much and as bloggers we should recognize it. Every comment deserves an answer, if only a brief, heartfelt “thank you”.

    • You summed it up nicely Jessica. Those short, sweet comments are the ones that really make my day (though my heart also leaps with joy when I see a reader has written a few paragraphs for me to analyse).

  10. Well i am going to admit sometimes i skip commenting on posts about the more obscure movies, partially because i’m not sure i could really add anything to the discussion, and also because of our sometimes diverging tastes. But sometimes they do catch my attention, like with Code Unknown, and i do appreciate the work you put into writing about them even if they are not always to my tastes

  11. Nice reading this together with that music 🙂 Very inspirational. It’s great indeed when people take the time to write something, even if it’s just one or two words.

  12. I would have loved to hear the music, but sadly the video is banned in Germany (as with most good music). Still, I have to tell you that this post is just so great, I feel very inspired – thank you for sharing this.
    Sometimes I feel like abandoning my blog too, but then I get inspired and write something, or people leave a great comment, and I feel that I just can’t stop. As long as I still find some words and energy to write about films, I will continue.

    • Sad you couldn’t hear the music. 😦

      Glad to inspire you! Inspiration is rare for some but it’s a great feeling when you realize you have it.

  13. Oh, I can relate. Most of the films I’ve reviewed (the older ones mainly) my readers have heard of but have not seen, but I can’t help but smile when they say my review made them want to see the film.

    As for writing, now it’s like I don’t care if anyone reads what I write or not. It’s something I love doing. And then there’s just that slight feeling of ecstasy when you encounter that one film (or, in my case, film, book or play) that leaves you speechless and you just have to write down your thoughts on it, otherwise they’ll be lost like tears in the rain.

    But then again, these are merely musings.

    • It’s something I love doing too – and I know exactly the feeling of ecstasy you’re referring to. Perhaps it’s a human compulsion to record our emotions and feelings through a channel, in this case film.

  14. Alex Withrow

    I’ve said this before, but hell, I’ll say it again, this is the best thing I’ve ever read on this remarkable blog of yours. You’ve gone all in and shared part of you with us. This post is so moving and candid, I simply cannot help but be in awe of it.

    I love everything you post on this site, so I don’t exactly have an educated guess as to why certain posts get more traffic than others. I love it at – whether you’re highlight an obscure drama, or mocking the absurdity of Mel Gibson hacking his arm off, it all works for me.

    I think you and I are a lot alike. In the films we enjoy, in the way we receive and articulate our inspiration. Maybe that’s why I love Southern Vision so much, maybe it’s because I respect and appreciate that you’re a nice guy who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. Either way, I discovered your site a year ago and remain impressed. I really like your writing and I’ll be coming back.

    • Wow Alex, what you’ve just said is mind-blowing. You’ve left some quite wonderful comments here in the past, but this one takes the cake. Your readership is valued like crazy. I love every single comment I receive from you and others, and they really do brighten up my day.

  15. I know what you mean about writing about recent films versus older or obscure ones. I try not to focus on how many readers I’m getting, but it can be disheartening to spend a lot of time digging into an older movie and get little response. That said, I still love the experience of seeing a smaller film that I knew little about and loving it. That makes the entire thing worthwhile, regardless of the response that’s received. Getting positive feedback on that type of post is just a great bonus.

    Your blog is on my top tier where I try to read every post and always find something interesting to check out. The writing is excellent, even if I didn’t know about the movie.

    • It can be disheartening when the reaction to a post is minimal. I experience it all the time. But you’re right, it is a great feeling to discover a movie few others have seen and to absolutely fall in love with it. That happens quite often with me!

  16. WOW! What an awesome piece! Tyler, your writing itself is inspiring, even if I have no idea about the film, I still enjoy reading your thoughts about ’em and I hope you continue to ‘release’ your passion this way.

    • Haha thanks Ruth, yours was one of the first sites I started following and I’m glad you enjoy my writing even when it’s not about films you’re familiar with. 🙂

      • Likewise Tyler. I know we don’t share the same taste in films, but that’s the great thing about blogging, we’re all passionate about movies so it’s still interesting even if it’s not your forte.

  17. Nicely written, Tyler. Makes me want to put something like this down on my own blog. Well done.

  18. i have never posted any comment on any article that i have read so far, but i really felt the need to just say “Great article.”

  19. Inspiration is always there, at the back of my mind when I am at school, in the store, sometimes even the most when I’m at a party with friends. But the motivation, the need to write and the physical ache for the act of typing, that comes in rare forms. Most of the time, when that tide as you described it, comes, the inspiration is missing. It is like a curse… or like the endless circle of getting nowhere and even when you do finish writing, the next day comes and you still have to write and other people don’t even understand how hard it is to be a blogger. They think of it as just sitting in front of the computer, typing, while you are actually putting yourself out there…
    Anyways, your piece made me think and the song is beautiful in many ways because not only is the song familiar but the author is Estonian.. just like me. To stumble on to something like this is just a rare surprise not common. Thank you!

    • Your words sum up my meaning wonderfully. Bloggers are often misunderstood, and their writing is often of a supreme level that I don’t feel gets anywhere near enough attention or respect. Glad you like the music… Arvo Part is a genius!

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