I’m reading Cinema Speculation, Quentin Tarentino’s non-fiction celebration of key American films of the seventies, from Bullitt and Dirty Harry, to Escape From Alcatraz and The Funhouse. I heard about it through the Pure Cinema podcast, which is connected to Tarentino’s Los Angeles cinema, the New Beverly. The prose voice is exactly how Tarentino sounds in interviews and podcasts. I’m sceptical of his writing ability, and I admit to being cynical about his novel, Once upon a Time in Hollywood, published after the film came out.
Obviously, I’m jealous. I don’t doubt his intelligence or capacity to speak fluently about the stories in his head. It’s easy to imagine him walking around his plush L.A. mansion, talking into his phone, then emailing the recordings to a ghost writer who edits them into shape. And why not? Writing clearly happens in many ways.
It feels like cheating because I have fixed ideas on how writers should write. There has to be suffering, each sentence sweated over, whole chapters thrown away, the entire thing rewritten multiple times. There has to be a crisis of confidence and real risk of the whole thing, perhaps even the writer’s life, collapsing into a meaningless void. That’s real writing.
Yes, that’s fucked up. I don’t know anything about Tarentino’s writing process. He’s an impressive artist and this is all in my head. I’m being a dick, and not to Quentin Tarentino, who couldn’t care less. I’m being a dick to myself. This is how I keep me in my place.