There was a time when I didn't like watching movies because of one of these two reasons (1) my budget couldn't afford it (2) my stubborn "creation mindset" refused most acts of consumption. Ironically, during writing my debut novel I Killed My Friends and It Thrilled Me, watching movies got ingrained into my lifestyle. It happened because I could finally afford watching a movie or two every week by then. Also, I needed to pass some time as well whenever I went to see a film. By the time I acknowledged that watching movies had become a staple of my life, I realised the cinematic act of consumption didn't get in the way of my creation. I'm pretty sure the variety of movies I watched on the big screen (alone, because watching a film by yourself rocks too) helped shaped each and every work I made from that point onwards.
One of the coolest things with watching films is getting what I call an "a-ha moment." An a-ha moment happens when a scene in the movie sparks an imaginary lightbulb above my head because I believe I'm receiving a message from the universe. Sometimes it comes from a quote shown at the beginning of the film. Other times, it comes from a dialogue by one or some of the actors. An a-ha moment is an unexpected answer to one of my life questions at the time or a reminder about something important to me.
Last month, while watching the critically acclaimed Call Me by Your Name by Luca Guadagnino, I had another a-ha moment. In the scene, Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet, was out on a date with Marzia, played by Esther Garrel. Elio gave Marzia a book as a gift to which she expressed her gratitude by saying she likes books because book readers are secretive. My imaginary light bulb popped above my head right away and my consciousness flew outside the cinema for a moment. I asked myself, as somebody who likes reading, "Is it true? Are book readers secretive?" Then I asked myself a modified version of the question, "Are writers secretive too?"
In the days that followed, I pondered on those unexpected questions that I couldn't just let go. Here are my answers.
"Are Book Readers Secretive?"
I'm not going to say that all book readers are introverts and thus they are secretive. That's not always the case. Not all book readers are introverts. It's a generalisation that arguably has done more harm than good. But as an introvert book reader, I can say that I AM, or at least at times can be, secretive.
When I read a book, I get transported to a different world all by myself. Immersed in a new setting, I get to know characters I wouldn't normally meet in real life. I shape the characters in ways I prefer, sometimes obeying the writer's commands and sometimes not, giving myself full control. Anything that happens while reading a book stays with me and me only until I meet another person who had gone through the same adventure to whom I may spill the beans. If that does not happen then all the joy, sadness, anger, and even confusion I felt while reading a book remain very much my private affair.
"Are Writers Secretive?"
The great irony is that as a writer it is my duty to dig the truths from within my soul, for authenticity requires vulnerability, but in real life those vulnerabilities aren't always shared. I'm not saying I'm timid in real life, I do speak what's on my mind when necessary. What I mean is there are some things I don't just share with anyone in real life. However, give me the platform of the blank page and the secrets are spilled. There's a powerful liberty once the words are crafted on the page. As a writer I suppose I am secretive, when I'm not writing.
Are you a reader? A writer? Maybe both? If so, are you secretive? Share to us your thoughts in the comments section below.