I watched the Mickey Rourke movie The Wrestler the other night, and I thought it was great. In case you haven’t seen it, Rourke plays an aging pro wrestler struggling with his health, his estranged daughter, and a solitary, poor life.
One of the reasons this movie really resonated with me was because I thought it was a moving illustration of the lengths artists and athletes to go to live a life that’s more than ordinary. There are some people who just want more out of life, and in order to achieve it they’re willing to forego time with friends and family spending hours huddled in front of a laptop, or, in the case of The Wrestler, wrestling in a bloody match featuring barbed wire and staple guns.
At the same time, “The Wrestler” wasn’t exactly a glorification of Randy “The Ram’s” life. He’s broken, depressed, estranged from his daughter, and basically alone in life. He’s devoted his life to an unsustainable dream – his body is failing him and he has nothing else to live for.
Ultimately I think the power of the movie comes from the sympathy his quest generates. Most people want something more out of life, and when that fails even despite almost insane efforts and doing every single thing possible, it’s one of life’s great tragedies. People still strive even when it becomes harmful.
Anyone else seen the movie? What do you think about it, and the sometimes simultaneously aspirational and destructive writing life?
I personally find it difficult to balance writing with life. I would assume that those that say it is easy must not have many obligations. But for all I know, maybe these people are machines and have great prioritization skills.
One thing I’ve lost out on with writing – sleep!
What is this “sleep” of which you speak?
Joseph L. Selby says
Saw the movie. My first thought was, “Wow, Marissa Tome gets better looking the older she gets.”
I used to write constantly. And while my wife was vocally supportive of it, she didn’t like my absence and any dedicated writing time would dissolve after a few weeks. Now that I have such a long commute, I use that for dedicated writing time. I get a lot done and she doesn’t feel cheated of her time together
Some people compare the scene in which Randy explains himself to his daughter to the “I coulda been a contender” scene in On the Waterfront.
Big difference: Brando was acting. Rourke was telling the story of his own life.
Writer from Hell says
Ben Dutton 5:48am. WOW. Very inspiring.
Benjamin P.-Thanks for responding.
Ask yourself why you want a published book or why you have any goal. Eventually if you keep asking you will get to the answer.. “because it makes me happy” Does this mean you are not happy with the process of reaching your goal or living each day?-just something to think about-
Those that have had their ordinary life threatened understand its true beauty. I am all for hard work and setting extreme goals. I’m Italian and I have incredible focus and determination but I also understand what true suffering is and it’s not (to me) doing what I love. It’s my 15 year old daughter who was paralyzed at ten and has to live everyday wondering if she will ever walk again-
Mystery Robin and Kathy F.- I agree 🙂 When I finished my novel, we celebrated with a family dinner at Carrabas. My kids were very excited. I realized that no matter what happened with the book, I had passed on valuable lessons to my children. Dream,commit,pursue,enjoy! You don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Kristi – I have read ‘Seth Speaks.’ It didn’t quite work for me personally as ‘truth,’ but as a metaphor, I thought it had a lot of interesting things to say.
Matilda McCloud says
To me, writing reminds me of Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters molding his mashed potatoes into Devil’s Tower on his dinner plate. He’s not sure why he’s doing it, but knows he has to. Writing has involved sacrifice for me, but my husband and sons are tolerant and that helps.
I highly recommend listening on Youtube to Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk: A New Way to Look at Creativity. She discusses self-destructiveness and so on, but has a different spin on the whole subject (just search on Youtube–it’s the first thing that comes up under her name)
Elaine 'still writing' Smith says
The desire to do something that is, at first, insular is an odd thread in life’s rich tapestry. The demands upon our time (relationships and responsibilitiies) weave such tight restraints that many people don’t get to pursue their dream with enough vigour.
The destructive part is that so much of the process (of becoming a published author) is out of the writer’s control.
For me writing is the joy of losing myself in another world, and my wish to be published is to have other people share and understand that world and for a while be someone else.
I have only seen excerpts from the Wrestler but it seems he could not move on from one successful career to another, which we all, especially athletes, must do. He could only look backward – until now, of course, when he’s moved on to the movie.
TecZ aka Dalton C Teczon - Writer says
I’m compelled to see the movie now. It has a great cast. Deep, moving, emotional story. Thanks for the movie review. I’ll check it out asap.
Other Lisa said…
“Hmmm…why is it that I suddenly want to recite lyrics from “The Gambler”? :)”
That is the perfect song for any great endeavor, and it sure fits the writing ones. Nice thought.
Um, I don’t even want to go there.
Lee Anderson says
I was thinking the exact same thing while watching this movie. No kidding. It was an intense, uncomfortable flick which left me wondering if ultimately this was the same fate awaiting me at the end of my writing career – being broke, alone, and desperate. Mickey Rourke plays a man coming to terms with the fact that he’s just a man, not a superhero or an action figure. Very heartbreaking stuff.
Jenny Bondurant says
One of the most memorable moments in any of the writing classes I’ve taken … When the professor stood up on the first day and said “You know that most writers end up alcoholics and/or suicidal, don’t you?”
Interesting that you should see parallels … what I saw was a person bereft of any true intellectual understanding of anything. He was driven by his emotions and his body (which was worn out …). A writer’s life is by necessity an intellectual life. No?
The struggle for me, as a writer, is that it is indeed a lonely existence; not so much out of choice as out of its organic reality — writing is nearly all internal except for one’s interaction with a screen or a piece of paper. Even the preparation for writing (reading everything) is largely internal. The only external activity is workshops. And then you’re trying to explain your internal life to others who are wrapped up in theirs.
It’s perhaps no less addictive being a writer, impossible to get away from, just as Randy believed that performing and bleeding was what he was meant to do, or the only way he could be loved.