“What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out?”
~ Alfred Hitchcock
Recently I had the privilege of spending some time at the Margaret Herrick Library at the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study in Beverly Hills, California. It was a singular experience during which I was able to hold in my hands and study objects that once belonged to the subject of my curiosity, an historical figure who has taken up much of my head-space for most of this past year. Somebody pinch me; I still can’t quite believe it… But doing so allowed me to deepen my understanding of what I’ve already learned, and has given me a fresh angle from which to go at my manuscript.
Mostly I’ve kept quiet about this latest writing project of mine, in part because I’m keen on keeping it close, but also because I’ve come to expect a certain reaction when I tell people who politely ask what I’m writing these days. Invariably, I’m given a whiplash-inducing double-take, and then we both laugh sheepishly and I explain a little more about what I’m up to – and I try to take my explanation only to the point where Kind Person’s eyes begin to glaze.
Which is why the following water-cooler conversation at the Herrick Library between myself and another writer who had also come a very long way (from Great Britain, in fact) was just so great:
Me: “What’s the nature of your research?
Brit: “Hitchcock. You?”
We both nodded. Neither of us batted an eye. And then we carried on with our work.