I should probably start this post with three apologies: 1) I’m sorry for how long it is, I just got a little carried away. 2) I’m sorry for run-on sentences and typos. I decided to take my own advice and just hit publish instead of proofreading. 3) I’m sorry for the fact that it’s kind of a self-motivation post combined with a love note to the 1944 gothic ghost film The Uninvited. I know that’s a bit of an odd combination. But then again, I never claimed to be normal. 😉
I wrote this post in an attempt to solidify/make sense of some advice that I recently gave myself. If any of this doesn’t ring true for you, please feel free to disregard it. I promise not to be offended. 🙂
Let Me Be the First to Invite You…
…into this wonderful film. (If you haven’t already seen it, that is.)
It revolves around London siblings, Rick and Pam (Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey), who are on vacation at the seacoast. They find a large, deserted house on the cliffs, adore it, and decide to buy it.
When they are first exploring the house and Pam is getting excited about the prospect of buying it, Rick cautions: “Now, be calm, Pamela. Changes like this have to be discussed for months.”
To which Pam replies briskly: “Oh, nonsense. Important decisions have to be made quickly.”
That one line, and the delightfully businesslike way in which Ruth Hussey delivers it, have always stuck with me. I tend to be a compulsive over-thinker, a passionate list-maker, an avid fan of cataloging pros and cons. And although I’ve already written about how I intend to practice recklessness this year, sometimes I need to be reminded of my own crazy decisions. (That’s crazy in a good way… hopefully.)
Here’s what I think:
Self-Knowledge equals Fast Decisions
We have to trust ourselves before we can trust our judgement, and we have to know ourselves before we can trust ourselves. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to trust myself is to do the following.
1. Know where I am. And I mean that physically, spiritually, financially, and in all other ways possible. If Stephen King called me tomorrow and said, “I’m in Istanbul, can you fly out here tonight? I have a business proposition for you,” the only way I could say “Yes!” with confidence is to know whether I have enough health/energy to make the trip, and whether I can front the money for the ticket. (I’m assuming, of course, that Steve would pay me back. The trip was his idea, after all.)
2. Know where I’m going. So, I get to Istanbul (where I’ve always wanted to visit) and sit down with Stephen King (whom I’ve always wanted to meet), and he says to me, “Frank Darabont and I are making a movie starring Ed Harris, Lance Henriksen, Angela Bassett and Holly Hunter, and we need some assistance spiffing up the dialogue. We love your work, can you help us out? You will, of course, receive a co-writing credit and a hundred bajillion dollars payment.”
Now, you may think that the obvious answer (after I calculate how many zeroes there are in a hundred bajillion dollars) would be another resounding “Yes!” But, what if I don’t want a co-writing credit? What if I don’t want to be famous? What if I’ve decided that that’s not my path, it’s not where I want to go with my life? Or worse, what if I’m caught in the maybe of “do I want to, or do I not?” Unless I have already determined where I’m headed, I won’t know if this offer is a step in the right direction, or a just a glamorous distraction.
3. When the “how I’m getting there” presents itself, just go for it. Considering the above example, I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. 🙂 If I know where I am, and where I’m going, I won’t hesitate to hop onto the right train when it comes chugging down the track.
It doesn’t have to be complicated
And in fact, it shouldn’t be complicated. In the above list, I said “know” who I am, but I could just as easily have said, “recognize” who I am. Introspection and lengthy self-evaluation are not really helpful to quick decisions. Even if it changes later on, I just need to recognize who I am and where I’m going now to be able to make a fast choice when the need arises.
More Lovey-Talk About The Movie
(Just because it’s awesome.)
I first saw The Uninvited on A&E in 1990-something, and fell in love right away. If you know me well, you’ll understand why: Over the course of the movie, Rick also ends up falling in love with Stella (played by Gail Russell), an enchanting girl with an innocent grin and wide, star-filled eyes.It turns out that Windward House was once owned by Stella’s parents, both of whom are tragically deceased. After the sibs move into the house, strange ghostly goings-on begin to manifest, and the film becomes both a love story and a supernatural mystery.
So, yes, pretty much everything I love about everything is in this movie: a big, old, deserted house; a complicated mystery filled with interesting characters (my description above barely scratched the surface!); British accents; a ghost and a love story. If the film makers had managed to somehow fit espresso and blues music into this flick, I would have good reason to think they’d made it just for me.
For years I had that A&E broadcast recorded on an old VHS tape. The fact that the video quality was terrible did not deter me from watching it around 1,567,329 times (approximately). The movie is now available in a Criterion Edition DVD, and I fully intend to gift myself with that prize one day soon. You can actually watch the whole film on YouTube, but it’s not a good transfer (picture is cut off at the edges, dialogue is sped-up and out of synch), so I wouldn’t recommend it. However, if you’d like to see Ruth Hussey deliver that line I love so much, click below. (The video should start at 4 minutes 40 seconds; Ms. Hussey says The Line at about 5 minutes 37 seconds.)
And Now, I’ll Take My Own Advice
Wow, this post is about three times as long as I thought it would be! Ordinarily I would just hit “save to draft” and come back in a week or two to trim it down. But in the interest of fast decisions, I’m just going to hit “Publish” and see where that takes me.
What are your thoughts on quick decision-making? Sensible, exciting, reckless, or somewhere in between?
2 thoughts on “Big Decisions Should Be Made Quickly”
Okay, here’s a quick decision for you. How about a writer’s retreat in the Williamsburg area and all you need to do is pay for your food. I’ll email you with dates and details! I’d love to see you, and it’s a beautiful place that has been given to me for a week and I’m allowed to invite other author friends. 🙂
Wow, thank you! I’ll definitely make a quick decision to say YES to that! 🙂 I just replied to your email. Thanks again. Looking forward to it!