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Manchester By The Sea– sublime and powerful

Kudos to Kenneth Lonergan who wrote and directed it. And to Casey Affleck, who is superb as Lee Chandler. The rest of the cast is also great, with some playing roles you would not expect them to be in.

Just watched it last night and it is all and more that the raves have said it is.

It plays out slowly, without pretense, without shoving anything at you. Things are revealed exactly when they should be.

Grief is at the center of the story, but it doesn’t wallow in it. Nor does it give a Hollywood, irreverent ending. It stays true to the emotion and to the characters, especially Lee. The ending was fitting, appropriate for all that came before– and a lot came before.

The topic could be overwhelming, and having lost a child also, I am particularly sensitive to it. But I felt this was so on target it had a profound effect with so much subtlety. I need to watch it again, as a writer, to gain a better appreciation for what was done. There were some small, brief scenes, that were anything but small, that I need to rewatch to fully appreciate in the larger context. But as a viewer, all I can say it is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. It is a meditation on the long-term effect of trauma and grief, while also keeping in mind the daily mundane of life, something that is often over-looked.

There were no easy answers, no cop outs where things suddenly get better or a character has a burning-bush awareness and change.

It is a real movie about real people.

On being an introvert in an extrovert world

It’s estimated roughly 75% of people are extroverts (although the image at left says its higher for writers). That makes us the majority. Thus, introverts feel a bit put upon. It’s an extrovert’s world.

There are tests, but you pretty much know. Do crowds energize you or drain you? How do you feel when you’re alone? My wife and I were discussing this the other day—how I like to isolate myself, which isn’t particularly healthy. We moved from Write on the River into town, where there are a lot more people, and I have to get out of my comfort zone. Actually talk to people. She’s training me; I’m an old dog, like Cool Gus, but trying to learn a new trick. I’m also trying to teach Cool Gus to talk to people, but it’s not going well.

I remember trudging with Jenny Crusie through an airport on our long book tour for Don’t Look Down. All of five or six weeks long and I mentioned that rock stars can go on tour for half a year and still be going strong. What was the difference? Pretty much every author I know hates the book tour. I think the answer for rock stars might be drugs and groupies. But seriously, I think it’s because many of them are extroverts. They draw power from the crowd. Writers are drained by crowds. The same with keynoters. I think I teach and give keynotes pretty well, but by the end of the day I am completely drained. I’ve pumped my energy out, not taken it in from the people.

The Myers-Briggs has sixteen character types. They label all sixteen with a generic title and one of them is actually labeled “Author”. The INFJ. The first letter is for Introvert. After all, we have to sit alone to write. That doesn’t mean you have to be an introvert to be an author, or an INFJ, but the tendency is strongly there. BTW—the INFJ is the least prevalent of the 16 characters types. So not only are we in the minority as Introverts, if we’re an INFJ, we’re in the minority of 16 different types of personalities!

What’s fascinating, and what I use when I teach Write It Forward, is that we need to look at not only what we are, but more so what we aren’t. The exact opposite of the Author Label INFJ is the ESTP– the promoter.

Ah-ha! Big problem for writers, especially these days when discoverability rules over distribution (thus the fading effectiveness of book tours!). We’ve got to get found. But how?

We not only have to be found, I think it goes beyond discoverability. My new term that I focus on is engagement. Whether in person or on social media. That’s excruciating for an introvert. Because it works on two levels: intellectual and emotional. I can do intellectual engagement. My books have tons of history and facts and interesting stuff. I can talk about that all day. But the emotional engagement is a very different beast. That comes out in the writing through characters that engage, but also in our interaction with others. For some of us, emotional engagement can be very hard.

One key is consistency. Intermittent reinforcement is extremely destructive to relationships but also to engagement. People need to know what to expect. That’s hard for me, because I have a form of Asperger’s that makes me inconsistent. Deb and I used to refer to it as Bob A and Bob B. I was reading a book recommended to me by a psychiatrist about my personality disorder and it was written by a psychiatrist who had the disorder, so I researched him too. And it’s interesting. People all saw him differently. Some people thought he was the greatest guy ever. Others thought him the biggest asshole ever.

I get that reaction. If I’m not consistent, the overall impression is cloudy.

So it comes down to how do I change things? Essentially, my brain is broken in some key areas. I can’t repair that. But I can act differently. Act differently long enough, and your actions change and what the world sees is the actions, not what’s in the brain. The Army used to call that training and I know about that.

What’s funny was I was about to write: Introverts band together! But that goes against being an Introvert.

“Sometimes betrayal is the only love left.”

Because it’s not apathy. Apathy is the death of nothingness. Betrayal is caring enough that you matter.

At least that’s the way Hannah looks at in Bodyguard of Lies. She tells this to Neeley, the female assassin she’s teamed up with, as they desperately try to find out the truth of their past. More accurately, the men in their past. To see through the lies and betrayals to a truth.

The title indicates this. It comes from something Winston Churchill said in the dark days of World War II.

Bodyguard of Lies, btw, is free today on Kindle.

Hannah and Neeley are introduced in Bodyguard and they’re still around, even in my Time Patrol books. I was just writing about the two of them meeting Roland, who is sort of an item now with Neeley, and how that goes in Valentines Day, my next publication, a novella that will be out shortly.

There are some concepts in Bodyguard my wife and I have spent a lot of time discussing and pondering. BTW, she wrote that line in the title. It’s hard for me to tell where her writing stops and mine starts, although she could clearly tell you. She’s got perfect memory which means she wins every argument because I can’t remember squat. Last night, when we were unloading the groceries she was being very specific in telling me where she was putting thing because she knows I won’t remember and I won’t look behind things. But I digress. One concept we like is the Cellar. We hope there is a Cellar. An organization in the shadows, with someone who only has the good of the country at heart, not personal desires. Who makes the hard, right choices.

I hope you enjoy Bodyguard and your time with Hannah and Neeley!

On another matter, quite a few comments on the last blog, which was interesting. It’s kind of funny to realize I was talking about that, then I started thinking how often I comment on blogs– and really, not much. I don’t think I’ve ever left an Amazon review. I do reviews on Goodreads at times. On the other hand, I sometimes read Amazon reviews when I’m thinking of buying something I have little idea about. But I wonder how true they are? I know Amazon works hard at it, but I have no doubt there are spam reviews. I can see them on some books, especially some big authors where there are just these bland, verified purchase reviews of 5 starts that all kind of sound the same, amidst 2 and 3 star, in-depth reviews. Ah well, it is what it is. More on the dark neighborhood is coming. If you can handle it.



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