Tuesday, September 11, 2012

From Head to Hand: Lessons Learned From Enid

Whenever I'm sick, I inevitably end up watching more daytime TV.  I never usually watch it normally, even during my days at home.  When Duncan and I were both sick and channel surfing, we came across a midday movie that was definitely worth watching.  Simply titled Enid, it was a movie based on the life of Enid Blyton - one of my all time favourite childhood authors.

What started as excitement soon turned to horror.  Although the very versatile Helena Bonham Carter puts in a fantastic performance as always, the way Enid Blyton is portrayed was absolutely shocking.  She is made out to be a malicious, adulterous witch who is trapped inside her own fantasy world.  She drives her first husband to the drink and neglects her two young daughters, instead churning out over 6000 words per day on her typewriter.

Now, you never know how accurate biographical movies are.  How much of it is true and how much is sensationalised is anyone's guess.  I know I would be outraged if a movie was made about my life and I was made out to be a monster.  I did some Googling and found interviews with Enid's two daughters, Gillian and Imogen.  The now late Gillian said her mother was a wonderful mother.  Imogen, on the other hand, saw it very differently.  She apparently came on set while the movie was filmed and gave tips on how to portray Enid.  There was no love lost between them.

Apart from the shock of seeing one of my childhood heroes shown in such a negative light, what did I learn from this movie in regards to my own writing?  It can be summed up in one sentence:

Don't give up your day job!

I don't mean 'day job' necessarily as a career.  Most writers need other income to support themselves.  While I've written before about needing to be proactive in creating the necessary time to write, it's important to know that writing isn't everything.  I need my current job for the income and to get out of the house.  But while Enid didn't have other employment while she wrote, she did have two very important roles - wife and mother.  There is one scene where she invites some of her young fans over to her country manor for a tea party.  When one of them asks why her own daughters aren't invited to join in, she replies, "Oh they see me all the time anyway."  I thought, Rubbish!  They are always stuck with the nanny.

As I approach parenthood, this was a huge wake-up call to how I balance raising a young family with my desire to write.  While I still feel the urge to write, I don't want my kids to feel that I love the characters I created in my own head more than I love them.


Karen said...

I saw this movie too. And I read a biography of Enid Blyton many years ago that was pretty similar to what was portrayed in the movie. She certainly didn't come across as a loving and caring mother, did she?

Janine Ripper said...

I think I will avoid that doco - I want to cling to my good memories of Enid.

I wrote a really good comment but just lost it…so just want to say, I agree that being a 'writer' is not everything, even though it may have been what we wanted to be.

Sarah said...

She sure didn't, Karen. I might actually read that bio you read when I get a chance. I guess it scared me cos I can see myself becoming like that. It was a huge wake up call that the character of an artist is more important than their talent.

Janine, both of your comments came through so I published the second one. :)