The other night I watched a three-part mini-series on Amazon Prime called David and Olivia. Part One opens with a guy (David, we learn later), getting into his car and driving away, not noticing that there’s a naked woman (Olivia, we learn later) asleep on the back seat.
She wakes up and keeps herself more or less covered with a large, bulky, plastic bag she’s carrying. I think it takes too long for him to notice her, but when he does, he’s startled and then solicitous. Olivia says she’s on her way to Edinburgh; will he take her there? David says no; he’s taking his girlfriend’s passport to the Glasgow airport because she’s on a business trip and she forgot it.
Shenanigans and conversational reveals take up the rest of Part One and all of Part Two. Olivia says the bag is full of money that she’s taking to the man that holds the mortgage on her house; if she doesn’t get there, she’ll lose her place. She tells him that the girlfriend is sleeping with her boss and is over him. They argue. They apologize. And so on. This stuff drags a bit, imo, but Olivia is a refreshing breeze in what can be awfully treacly sometimes in romancelandia—she’s frank and pushy, and she challenges David constantly. Also, she lies.
By Part Three they’ve reached an accord, and he drops her at her place in Edinburgh. But after he’s driven a short way, he returns to her house—for what exactly, we’re not sure, except that we know he doesn’t want to let her go yet. He uses the key under the mat to let himself in, to see that she’s been tied up by a man holding a gun to her head. David throws the gunman in a judo move, knocking him out; they almost get away. But the gunman comes around and grabs Olivia. No spoilers here: I’m just saying that the result is not what you’d expect.
In the final scene, David and Olivia run out to the car with the money. David points out that Oliva looks a lot like his “girlfriend,” whose passport he still has. Olivia could go abroad, he says, hide. There’s plenty of money. Olivia says, “Will you go with me?” And then they laugh and drive off together. The rich part is that you never do find out why Olivia was naked and sleeping in David’s car, why she had the money or what she’d done to get it, or who the man with the gun was. All of that was just one giant McGuffin.
I’m telling you this long story because I told it to a friend of mine when she asked me what I’d watched recently. And when I’d finished the summary, she said, “That sounds just like something you’d write.”
I was surprised and, I confess, terribly pleased by this. First, because this friend is not a universal admirer of my work, she hasn’t read everything I’ve written, and yet she understands what I do well enough that she can make this comparison. (She was right, too: this is exactly the kind of thing I’d write.) Moreover, her saying this made me feel successful, like I’d developed a distinct voice (even if that voice could be recognized only by one of my best friends).
Developing a recognizable voice is a challenge for writers, one we all work toward. Just in the last week, Jilly, Michaeline, and Michille have all talked about the importance of voice—recognizing it, finding it, and using it. I’m not sure any writer ever hits it pitch-perfect every time—and in my current WIP, I’m way off-base, according to my critique partners—but in this small moment in time, I felt like I’d arrived.
How about you? Have you felt successful in your writing lately?