I Speak How Lena Writes

Apparently I speak how Lena Dunham writes. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. Every time someone mentions Lena Dunham I ask them if they’ve seen the “Lena Dunham Apologizes” account on Twitter – because that feels like the nicest way I can talk about her in public.

Yet, I understand it. How I speak and what I talk about: I, too, frequently find myself coming down with the symptoms of foot-in-mouth disease.

Yesterday I was editing a video I shot on a whim on my SLR. I’m talking at the camera (because that’s all I seem to do anymore). Editing yourself talk after the fact might be the strangest human sensation. The big takeaway? Whenever I end a thought/sentence with a hard “s”, the very next thing out of my mouth is always, always, always “so”.

Editing video of people talking forces an awareness of how that particular person puts language together. Editing a video of YOURSELF talking takes you all the way to an existential moment. Combine that with trying to split a clip where two hard “S” sounds come together and I’m not sure I’ll ever get a full night’s sleep again.

The latest bender re-watch has been Girls. It’s not my favorite show since most of the characters are insufferable to watch. Carly notices that when any of the characters are in soliloquy, they sound and perform the same way I do. Trying to disprove it, trying to show that it isn’t true, I started to dissect each scene as it is presented. It is baffling to see these characters present a story or retell a moment to another. Sure enough, they tell their stories much in the same fashion as I tell mine.

I talk a lot about the lens and what a powerful tool it can be. Necessary in photography, invaluable in writing and storytelling. “Don’t tell, show” is the quick and ready advise. Don’t just tell a story. Frame it. Give it focus. Give it places where it is just out of focus. Rely on a very particular focus length and aperture to tell an EXACT story. Make sure the reader only takes in what you want them to.

Otherwise, the audience gets off into strange tangents like “there’s no way she could afford that apartment as a writer” or “why is there so much gravity in space?”

Whenever someone brings up Girls I always point out that the most interesting part of Girls is the boys. This is a comment that seems sexist until I point out that the entirety of the show was conceived by — and largely written by — a woman. A woman who self deprecates through her own character and the other female characters. A woman who writes men with the kind of truth and clarity that no man could ever write from the male perspective. Pointing out that the male presence on the show as the highlight should be a compliment. It shows how clear her (Dunham’s) lens is.

Lately the focus in my writing hasn’t been so much “how is this story going to end?” Rather, “how will this story present?” Imagine it on the stage, coming off the page and out of the mouth and through a microphone. How does it present?

If the presentation is amazing, then it really doesn’t matter how it ends. The resolution – while it needs to exist – doesn’t need to come to an orgasmic crescendo so long as the reader is hooked all the way through.

David Pennington
David Pennington

Writing would be great if it weren't the only thing I knew how to do. I publish as much as I can, you'll just have to wait for the rest.  

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