The Page a Day Writers Group

Moving From Columns to the Silver Screen

Posted on: February 10, 2010

My husband and I watched The Soloist on TV last week. It was a touching and thought-provoking movie about a homeless man who had been a classical bass student at Juilliard before his life was overtaken with mental illness. Jamie Foxx did a great job portraying Nathaniel Ayers and his struggle with schizophrenia. But what stayed with me after the film ended was Robert Downey Jr.’s character. Downey portrayed Steve Lopez , the LA Times columnist whose work the movie is based on. Ayers is playing a two-string violin when the two inadvertently meet on Los Angeles’ skid row. Lopez does some research and writes about Ayers in his column: Points West.

This film was the third movie and/or a column-inspired book I’d seen or read recently. Last month my book club read the Girls from Ames written by Jeffrey Zaslow, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. The book was a result of a column he had written about the importance of friendships for women.

Months before, I laughed while watching Marley & Me at the movies (then I came home and bought the book). John Grogan, a journalist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and then the Philadelphia Inquirer, had chronicled his life with the “world’s worst dog” in his newspaper column.

Erma gave me hope, humor and inspiration. I was attracted to her talent for finding the perfect word or chain of thoughts to make us laugh at ourselves.

As a young woman, I enjoyed reading Erma Bombeck’s work. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew somehow, someday I’d write a slice-of-life humor column. Erma gave me hope, humor and inspiration. I was attracted to her talent for finding the perfect word or chain of thoughts to make us laugh at ourselves. She gently cautioned us — while raising children and training husbands — to relish life’s random and ordinary moments.

I try to do that with my monthly column Woman@Heart, hoping women across the country see themselves in my 800-word riffs about losing weight, parenting teenagers or keeping romance alive.

After observing the success Lopez, Zaslow and Grogan’s have enjoyed, I’m tempted to put my fiction novel aside and concentrate on turning my essays into a book. If newspaper columns about dogs, friendships and mental illness can become best-sellers and blockbusters, then certainly a magazine column about sticky notes, cookie parties and believing in make-believe could vie for a spot in the NY Times Best Sellers list. Well, a made-for-TV-movie, at least.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

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2 Responses to "Moving From Columns to the Silver Screen"

Hmm…I think it’s a great idea to turn your essays into a book! I’d buy it!

Claire, you are a gifted columnist. I have been moved by your essays, with laughter many times and I must say I’ve also come close to tears with empathy as you’ve shared your journey. Your voice comes through in such a genuine way, like having a cup of coffee with you.

But I’m hoping when you say you’re tempted to put your fiction aside, you don’t mean permanently…

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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