Is this the bus to Cartagena?

I don’t remember how old I was the first time I saw Romancing The Stone. The movie was just always there, woven into the fabric of my life and probably every other person alive in the 80s. I never questioned it. Some cultures have myths, religion, gods–I have Kathleen Turner. For anyone who has somehow missed the amazingly sexy/cheesy/classic film, it’s about a mousy romance writer with no life or love, who travels to Colombia on a quest to save her sister from some bad guys, ultimately sheds her mousy exterior and comes into her own hawt romance with the one and only Michael Douglas. Danger and hijinx abound.

The point of this post is that for years my one and only mental image of a writer was embodied by Joan Wilder. And I’m not talking about the sexy, breezy woman who sails off into the sunset with Jack Colton. I’m talking about THIS Joan Wilder:

NOT this one:








I wanted to be her. The headphone-and-pajamas, weeping-over-her-typewriter, lives alone with her cat, and has post-it notes ALL over her apartment…WRITER. Forget the action and romance in the rest of the movie, I could watch the first fifteen minutes where she finishes her novel and celebrates all by herself over and over. That’s what writing is really like! (well, except maybe for the part where she types out the perfect last sentence and THE END without tearing every last strand of her hair out)

So recently when a client of mine heard about my book being published, he asked me clear out of the blue, “Does this mean you’re going to run off to South America and become Joan Wilder or something?”

And you know what? I might have a MacBook instead of a typewriter, but I realized today that I have the headphones, the pajamas, the post-it notes…and even the cat (my late kitty Thyme was actually the spitting image of Joan Wilder’s cat Romeo). Omg, I have fulfilled the dream of mousy writerdom!

Then today I received one other Joan Wilder accessory that I never thought I’d have:

(haha, it’s a publishing contract, not Jack Colton…I’m set in that department)

I know you are probably thinking: Emily, you have a severely distorted vision of reality, get help! And you wouldn’t be the first person to say that recently! But you know, I think everyone who has ever tried to get published has an image of a WRITER that they see in their heads when they let themselves dream. And I think I could do a lot worse than Kathleen Turner.


So when you think writer, or for that matter, any dream you aspire to…
What do you see?


10 thoughts on “Is this the bus to Cartagena?

  1. I don’t know what I see, bb, but I think I need to watch Romancing the Stone again. I forgot how much I LOVED that movie. (though unlike you, I like the Michael Douglas parts MUCH better…) 🙂

    Also love the pic of you with the contract!


    1. Suze, Well okay…I give you that. Michael Douglas in his white pants is my SECOND favorite part. 😉 Thanks, BB!

  2. Love this post! I haven’t thought about that movie in forever, but feel the same way about it. I dunno, when I think about writers I think I’ve always seen someone brave enough to do what they dream in spite of the daunting odds. So I guess to me she’s lonelier in her apartment, but just as brave–it was always in her, she just added a tan and started showing some leg:) And that voice–she has to have one of the all time most distinctive ones ever! By the way–the contract pic is very cool–definitely jump up and down awesome.


  3. OMG, I knew exactly what you were saying from the post title alone! I think I’m digging that out tonight to celebrate my finished ms and ready-to-go query, which I’m too scared to send 🙂

  4. I honestly had no visual to accompany the concept of “writer” (with the exception of a childhood notion of Truman Capote) until I watched Adaptation. I was already livin’ the dream (small, ironic laugh) when I watched the film, and I was like, YES! YES. YES. YES. Except not in a Sally from When Harry Met Sally sort of a way, rather in a YES, CHARLIE KAUFMAN, THANK YOU FOR VALIDATING ME kind of a way. Here’s the trailer, which sums it up all very nicely:

    I would also point to Woody Allen, pre-marrying-his-own-daughter.

    In conclusion, I might be a straight Irish Catholic woman, but my soul is the love child of a flamboyantly gay Southerner and a neurotic Jewish man.

  5. For me, I always think of Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give, that montage when she’s heartbroken and simultaneously crying and writing, pouring her heart out onto the computer. First off, I wish I was that successful a writer where I could write at my beach house in the Hamptons 🙂 But really, I love having those creative breakthroughs where you literally can’t tear yourself away from the keyboard.

  6. I STILL have not seen this movie. I know. I know. But since you love it this much, I will.

    My childhood vision of writers (and don’t ask me WHERE I got this from… I have no idea where half my childhood misconceptions came from) was high heeled slippers with feathers on the toes, satin robes, big hair, and lots of make up. They wrote in towers, at desks that were made of the same see-through sparkly material as Cinderella’s slippers and they wrote by hand using a pink or purple pen with feathers attached. And ate bon bons while doing so.

    That’s exactly like my reality. Yours, too, right?

    *wipes spit-up off two-day old pajamas*

  7. I actually found this post while looking for a picture of Joan Wilder – romance novelist. 🙂
    This dreamer is still sans contract and looking for her Jesse, so to speak.

    I can do without the gators though. Just saying….
    Belated congratulations.

  8. I stumbled upon this post today and burst out laughing into my cup of starbucks….I JUST was thinking of JOAN WILDER character the other night when my writing coach was teaching on writing with emotion. Great! Great Great! When I was traveling to Peru last year — I saw the gate for Cartagena and wanted to go…soon!!!! #LOVETHEJOANWILDER….The other movie writer that comes to mind is Diane Keatons character in SOMETHINGS GONNA GIVES.. there are some classic writer scenes of her sobbing over her computer…then laughing…then back to sobbing as she is writing about how she fell in love …with her daughters boyfriend. I like to think of myself as the FEARLESS Joan Wilder … but deep down, the super sappy one lives within me more often… and its OK

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