Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev
I’m still keyed up about my sudden admittance to the ragged outskirts of the movie industry. For all I know, this translation experiment will be a failure, culminating in shame and derisive laughter. And yet it seems to be going pretty well so far. Which leads me to ponder, after the manner of a script doctor, where this plot line in my life started.
It was a summer in the 1970s. I’d recently graduated from college, though I was still living in an upstairs apartment on campus. The woman I had fallen in love with, more than any other before or since, had recently left the country. I had a strong feeling that I’d never see her again (I was almost right), and that I would be forever sad and alone (I nailed that one). So what was I to do with the shards of my hardly-begun life?
I resolved to do two things. I would write a novel, and I would learn Norwegian.
My true motive for writing the novel was (I’m pretty sure) to Show Her. I would be a great and famous literary figure, and she would kick herself for missing out on a good thing every time she saw me guesting on the Carson Show.
That didn’t work out very well. The novel would be finished – eventually – and it would be published, about 20 years later. But to date it has failed to make me a beloved cultural icon.
My motive for learning Norwegian, I think, was that I had a vague idea that someday I’d travel to Norway, where I’d meet a wonderful woman who’d be impressed that I spoke her language and make me forget my sorrows.
That hasn’t worked out very well either.
But I stuck with the plan, by gum. And now the two of them together have snagged me an interesting job.
At this point, I suppose, I should close with a hackneyed meditation on the importance of perseverance.
But that’s only one possible lesson. Another is a similarly hackneyed bromide: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.”
Fortunately, insanity is no handicap in the film industry.