Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Loren D. Estleman is Writing My Books!

Those who know me a little better know that I wrote a novel about a film archivist working (where else) at the George Eastman House that gets involved in a murder investigation. It has been through a couple of revisions, but few have seen it because I haven't been completely satisfied with it.

Now I find out (from a non-mystery reading colleague, no less) that the legendary Loren D. Estleman has just released a novel called Frames, about a film archivist from UCLA that inadvertently gets involved in a murder investigation. This is the first novel in an anticipated series, but according to the webpage, the character has actually been around for a decade in short story form.

After I lifted my jaw off the floor, I surprised myself. If you had given this situation to me as a hypothetical, I imagine I would have told you that I would be furious, frustrated at having put all this work into something that someone better has put to page. But I wasn't. I was shocked to find that I was actually relieved. And excited.

I felt a pressure rise from my shoulders. I guess I always felt that a film archivist mystery was the book that I needed to write. No one else would write this book that I wanted to read. And I think that by trying to do that within some self-imposed restraints, the project became difficult for me and the quality suffered. Now I feel that if I never get that book published, at least someone else has done it. Estleman has, I hope, created the book that I want to read.

Not that he has created the book I want to write. But I will definitely read it and compare his idea of what a film archivist mystery should be to my own. It's possible that they're completely different. Although I'm sure his writing is much better.

In the meantime, though, I feel freed. I've been working on a secret project for a little while now. It's a big break from what I was writing before, but it's something I've been having fun with. If the other book gets re-examined a little later, that will be fine. But it doesn't have to be my first book anymore. I can do whatever I want.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Star Spotting

Many readers of this blog will know that I work at the George Eastman House as a film archivist. It's a job that I love and a job that I've been working now longer than any I have in the past. And although non-profit institutions don't offer the greatest pay, they do offer unquantifiable benefits every once in a while.

This afternoon, Bill Pullman came by the department. He is in town for the High Falls Film Festival, a celebration of women behind the camera. Pullman is in town to present his new film with Felicity Huffman, PHOEBE IN WONDERLAND.

Turns out he's from Hornell, NY and graduated from SUNY Oneonta. I met him, shook his hand. He's an incredibly gracious guy and seemed to take an interest in what I was doing today. It's gratifying in and of itself to be involved in preserving some of cinema's history, but it's also nice to be able to meet some of the people involved in creating what we preserve. Then to have them be great, down-to-earth people that appreciate what we do as well...

Well, it's one of those things that helps keep you going.