Clay and I watched the Shining this past weekend. Unsurprisingly, I had never seen it before-I usually curl into the fetal position at the mere mention of a scary movie. But I put on my big girl pants and twisted myself into the space between clay's torso and his arm, and found myself genuinely enjoying the experience. It was beautifuly shot and haunting and moody and just really cool. I especially loved Danny, the kid. So everything was going great until I see this one scene...
Some background for those who haven't seen the movie: Jack is a writer, and needs time to write. So he takes a job as an off-season caretaker for a beautiful old hotel in Colorado that closes from October to March. He brings his wife, Wendy, and his son, Danny along for the lonely and isolated winter months. Lots of creepy shit happens in the hotel, and the whole family is starting to go a little mad, especially Jack (In fact, while watching, you're never really sure if there are real ghosts or everyone is just losing their shit. I digress...) One day early in their stay, Jack freaks out at Wendy for interupting him while he is working. You see, he is getting a lot done, he explains, and everytime she comes into the room to ask an inane question, he loses his concentration. This complaint of being interrupted and the fact that he is typing a lot throughout the movie, makes it seem like he is getting a lot done on his book.
Well, towards the end of the movie, after more creepy and moody stuff happens, Wendy comes into the room while Jack is not there. She looks down at the typewriter and the stack of writing that he has done and sees this....
The same phrase is written over and over again, with different indentations, sometimes in bold, sometimes italics. Wendy frantically flips through the large stack of papers which looks like part of a finished manuscript, its all the same: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"
I understand that this is supposed to be a super tense moment for Wendy. She suddenly realizes that Jack is officially crazy and has been since they got there. He is not working, he is just insane! He then comes up behind her and does more threatening stuff. But I think I found this scary for different reasons.
You guys...this is kind of like my dissertation! I have funding from my school and from an external grant, and the idea is that they give me this money so that I can make ends meet and sit down at a desk and write write write...get all my research out into a form that other people can, you know, read.
But here is what actually happens: Clay leaves for work each day, and I get up and sit at my desk. I check some regular internet sites. I read a little. I pay bills or any other innane thing I can think of. And then I finally manage to write a little.
Well that's good, you may say. What do you write? Well, I have more than 50 documents on my computer labeled things like "writing effort #4," "chapter 3 ideas," "blahblahblah," "ideas about 'movement' and 'identity'" (what?!), "Intro chapter outline," "ideas for young adult novels." Each of these documents have some substantitive things in it, for sure (maybe not the young adult novel ideas). But there is also a whole lot of repetitive shit that is no way suitable for anyone else to read, and nothing in a finished form.
What I am trying to get at here is that I sympathize with this character that is supposed to be terrifyingly crazy. This scene was not scary to me because the wife realizes she is married to a crazy man, this scene was scary to me because it made me think of how awful it will be when people actually read what I should have been working on for almost a year now! Sometimes I have nightmare-like visions of my advisor or even Clay going through these documents and turning to stone because of their horror: "this is what you've been working on all this time?" I might as well have typed "All work and no play make jack a dull boy" over and over on two reems of paper- at least that would have made me a candidate for some sort of mental health care rather than just a person who just can't manage to get their shit together.