Finding Your Voice…”In a World” That Doesn’t Always Value It

The official movie poster for In a World.

I don’t get to the movies as often as I’d like these days. There are good reasons for this. Money, time, and—you know—the whole working mother in grad school thing. So when we do get to the theater, we’re selective about what we go to see. I do realize that my “selective” might not be yours (my husband and I did go see Pacific Rim on our anniversary this summer). But this weekend we saw a movie that has tremendous appeal across types of film-selectivity—as well as relevance for female writer.

That movie was Lake Bell’s brilliant In a World. If you listened to a recent NPR interview with Lake Bell and the actor who plays her father in the movie, Fred Melamed, you’d think that the takeaway of the movie was sort of along these lines: Hollywood voice work—so crazy!

But it’s really about finding your voice. For starters, Bell writes, directs, and stars in what is an incredibly funny movie—what better way to have your voice heard in an industry that often shuts out female voices? But on top of that, the story itself is about having the confidence to make yourself heard—to stand up and say that your voice (literally and figuratively) truly does count. It also draws on the idea that having women raise their voices and be heard is particularly relevant and important.

Now, clearly, the world of children’s books is not the same as the world of Hollywood. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the only areas of literature where female voices are not only welcome, but thriving. This is for a lot of complicated reasons, but it is the fact. But it’s also fact that women, in general, have a harder time breaking into both the world of writing and the world of Hollywood. The deck is stacked in favor of male voices, and it’s just not right (as even the little second-grade feminist in my family will tell you).

Finding your voice as a writer can mean a lot of different things—giving voice to your characters, discovering just the right tone, or (something I’m struggling with right now) figuring out what kind of writer you want to be. But it also means having the guts to sit down and believe that what you’re writing is worth the time and effort—that your voice has something to say, and that putting it down on the page is vital in some way.

So, to watch In a World and to see Lake Bell making it happen for herself was—not to be too gooey (even though I will)—sort of inspiring. It leaves me waiting to see her next movie with great eagerness—and wanting to sit back down and write as well.


Writen by Cynthia

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