On one level, the movie itself is such a beautiful fantasy that I suspect every writer has had. Who hasn't imagined sitting down in a Parisian cafe with a glass of red wine and having a conversation with Hemingway? Or Fitzgerald? Or Gertrude Stein? Or in my case, a mug of small beer in a tavern in Bankside, sitting across from Shakespeare. Wouldn't it be amazing to pick their brains about what inspired them, what kept them going during the droughts, what their processes were?
Because here's the thing - I believe that, even 500 years ago - writers went through the same things we go through. They fretted over a line of dialogue. They rewrote and rewrote their opening scene, trying to get it just perfect. They had days when they dreaded facing their typewriter, or quill.
Last year, at the SCBWI-LA conference, I had the great fortune of hearing Judy Blume speak. She talked about how, back in the '60's, she was a housewife, and it was making her sick. Not being able to express her creativity, not having the outlet to write, was literally making her sick. And my heart skipped a beat, because I know that feeling. As much as I love my family - and I love them more than anything - I need to write. I need to be creative. I need to express myself, or I would become sick.
And so there we were, Judy Blume and I, nearly fifty years removed from each other, and experiencing the exact same thing.
But the other level I love Midnight in Paris on is that it's an artist's meditation on being an artist. It makes me believe that even an artist as established and successful as Woody Allen still ruminates on what it means to be an artist. On what's really important - making money, or making good art. That even after all his years of being an artist - and being one of the most important filmmakers of our time - he still harbors a secret fantasy of hanging out with Picasso.
Across the ages, across the chasm that separates someone like me from someone like Woody Allen, we all experience the highs and lows of an artist's life. It's a comfort to know that we are not alone. And that the experience of being a writer is universal.
Please share in the comments below - which famous (dead or alive) writer or artist would you love to share a drink with?