The Oscar fog has lifted and the red carpet has been rolled up and taken away, but I'm still basking in the glow of Aaron Sorkin's win for Best Adapted Screenplay, as I'm sure he still is (I always wonder if winners actually take their trophies to bed with them the first few days after winning... I probably would).
I never blogged about my meeting Sorkin back in September of last year. For one thing, it was part of a wave of meeting several people who have had some influence throughout the course of my life, from Patrick McDonnell (Mutts creator who is now getting some attention since his little book The Gift of Nothing just made Oprah's list -- it's on mine as well) to David Newell (aka Mr. McFeely from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, who took the time to follow up and send me some potential teaching materials). But for another thing, I didn't want to make a big deal about it. It was a personal thing, and I didn't want to attach any fanfare to it.
Unlike getting a tweet from my teen love John Taylor (in response I did a happy dance around my apartment and immediately posted about it on Facebook -- I recall a lot of exclamation points), I wasn't the least bit starstruck when I tapped Sorkin on his shoulder following a Q&A at an advanced screening of The Social Network, which I was fortunate to attend. I'd been visualizing that moment for months-- not as a fantasy, but more like something already actualized. I'd made it an intention to meet the writer who's given me so much inspiration, and had sensed it was going to happen during my fantastic "Year of Turning 40."
We didn't have a chance to say much to each other -- he, Jesse Eisenberg, and Armie Hammer were on their way to another screening/Q&A scheduled the same evening -- but he recognized my name from my interaction on the now-extinct Facebook discussion forum, took my hand, and seemed as genuinely pleased to finally meet me in person as I was to meet him. If I'd had more guts, I would've asked to tag along on the way to the next screening just so we could chat some more. But alas, I'm not that daring. Besides, in that moment, I wasn't a fan. I haven't been for quite some time (that's not to say I've lost admiration for his work -- far from it). I don't know if I would consider myself a colleague, or even a friend -- neither of those labels feel accurate either. I suppose I was just one writer meeting another writer.
Following Sorkin's Oscar win, one of my dear friends (whom I met via Facebook thanks to that aforementioned now-extinct discussion forum, along with about 30 other darling people, some of whom I still have yet to meet in person, although it certainly doesn't feel like that) called me and left a message: "We met an Academy Award winner (he had met Sorkin during the TSN premiere in NYC, which about 16 of our group attended, meeting each other in person for the first time, yet feeling like we'd just seen each other the day before). How cool is that?"
Yeah, it is cool.
It's cool not because it's Aaron Sorkin, but because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. My friends and I felt like we had watched this movie unfold from pregancy to birth, watched it grow up and graduate with honors. Kind of like honorary aunts and uncles. And Aaron was gracious enough to let us be a part of it for that short time. We're proud of everyone who was directly involved with the film (and although Tom Hooper was certainly deserving of his Oscar for The King's Speech, I was bummed that David Fincher didn't win for Best Director). But we're more touched by what we've come to mean to each other. I stood up and cheered (actually, it was more like a YAWP) when Sorkin's name was called, and remained standing while he said his thank-yous, my hand lightly tapping my heart.
I hope to meet Mr. Sorkin again, and this time exchange more than cordial hellos. I think there's much to talk about, none of it having to do with Facebook or The Social Network. I just like talking to writers, I guess.
If I had the chance to say anything to him right now, I'd say this:
Congratulations, Aaron -- you did it! Way to go. I know you're afraid of what comes next, that anything you write will be known as that-thing-you-wrote-after-The-Social-Network, and will be held up against TSN (probably not unlike the way Studio 60 was that-thing-you-wrote-after-The-West-Wing). Just do it, just write. Keep doing what you always do--writing the best you can, what you like--and allow it to be whatever it turns out to be. Then write the next thing. And the next.
From one writer to another.