Julie, Julia and I

Last night, Kim and I went to see the movie Julie Julia. It is about cooking, and blogging, and this is my review of it. Well, not exactly. It is my chance to use someone's famous name to talk about myself in hopes that someday, I will get discovered for what I am passionate about, and maybe get a book deal, or maybe even a TV show or even have a movie made about me. But, that is what the movie is about as well, so I guess it all fits.

One sign of an effective book or movie is whether or not you could see yourself in the same situations as the main characters. The movie I saw most recently before Julie and Julia was the latest Star Trek movie. Yes, it touched on universal themes, rebellious youths learning to channel their energies to overcome some great evil. I could relate to that part of the movie and enjoyed the escapeism, but it was very different from my lifestyle sitting in a small rented house in Woodbridge, CT.

Julie, Julia, however, masterfully captures the hopes and dreams of so many bloggers, like myself, busy pecking away at their computer keyboards and hoping for some sort of recognition for their passions. It ties back to Victor Frankl's great book, Man's Search for Meaning. The desire to be recognized for our passion is as basic to our own stories as the hero myth of Joseph Campbell is to so many great stories in literature.

The movie explores how blogging relates to our marriages, our families, our work, how we see ourselves, and how we support these explorations, financially and through our circle of friends.

Julie is presented as a frustrated writer. All her friends are having wonderfully successful careers while she is working away at a miserable job in a cubicle. She's written half a novel and can never finish anything. Well, through the discipline of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I've written one and a half novels, although I never completed editing the first or getting it published. I had a horribly successful career on Wall Street, but now I spend more and more time on my writing and less and less time consulting to the financial services industry.

Julie decides to put a PayPal button on her blog. That was years ago, and I think I did that at one point as well. However, I never received the recognition Julie has and never really received any Paypal donations to speak of either.

Now, so many bloggers are scrambling to find other ways to monetize their blogs. I've written about this from time to time, and spent a bit of time yesterday talking with a person who is planning to launch a new scheme to help bloggers monetize their blogs. He wanted to know what really makes bloggers tick, so that he could be more effective in recruiting bloggers and setting up a system that would be more successful for himself and the bloggers he hopes to recruit. He is wise in reaching out to bloggers to get a sense at what makes them tick. If he really wants to get a sense, he should go see the movie Julie, Julia.

Another theme explored in the movie is narcissism. Bloggers often get a bum rap by people who don't get blogging. They are accused of being narcissitic. To a certain extent, this is true. Yet it may not be as bad as it seems. In elementary school, one of the important reading skills is learning how to relate a story back to ones personal life. This is a skill that many bloggers have mastered. See, I'm relating the movie back to my life. When you get older and start learning creative writing, you are told to write about your own experiences and things that you know and have experienced. This is done wonderfully in Julie Julia, and drives my writing as well.

The problem with narcissism is when it does not relate to the world around it and somehow share in the human condition. That is what differiates between the narcissist as self absorbed jerk and the narcissist as the great writer. I'm probably still too close to the narcissist as self absorbed jerk, which is the problem with so many bloggers. I believe we all need to strive to be more in touch with the people around us if we wish to be great writers. We also need to strive to be more in touch with the people around us for plenty of other reasons as well, and that drives much of my political activism.

In the end, Julie and Julia have both won the recognition they have sought. Meanwhile there are millions more bloggers out there, pouring their hearts and souls onto their keyboards in hopes that some day, they too, will be recognized for their passion. All it takes is a blog and a dream.