“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” William Faulkner
So the plan was to spend a month in Tel Aviv with a screenwriter who is writing a movie with a deadline. Here is what I have learned.
Do the boring stuff. A well fed and rested writer is less apt to bite your head off. Without me, the diet is coffee and wine. It is a bit tricky with everything closing on Friday at two and not reopening till Saturday night or Sunday. Plan ahead.
Don’t ask specific questions.
Be prepared to discuss the characters at all times. One AM is a good discussion time.
At other times, be prepared to be shut out completely.
Remember that you are on two separate trips. This is not a vacation.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that when you are watching something that has to do with what he is writing, that it is just for your entertainment. He is watching to critique the screenplay and will spend time evaluating it afterwards. Pay attention. You may be asked difficult questions afterward.
It didn’t help that it was raining the first week and I hurt my knee. It was the animals lining up in pairs kind of rain. I wanted to sit inside and lose myself in a good book but my breathing was breaking his concentration.
Be ready to answer bizarre research questions like what is the last make up thing you do before going out?
Writers will always correct your punctuation and grammar. Even if he does not do it every time, I can tell that he wants to.
Be able to deal with the mood swings depending on how the work is going that day. He moves from happy to sad to angry with the agility of a ballet dancer.
Learn to read the cues – when he wants to be talked to and when he does not.
He doesn’t hate me. He hates his inability to get that particular scene the way he wants it, in the time frame he has allowed himself. He will figure it out later on but at this moment, the drawer that I am opening, is the problem.
Interrupt the writing at your own peril.
Israel is a country of changes and extremes all packed into a small place. The rain stopped and my knee hurt less. Like, the tensions and complexities of Israel, we learned to navigate our situation. We made it better. Peace in the Middle East – not yet but Hayarkon St. is all good.