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This blog was featured on 03/14/2019
Amber Tamblyn on the Era of Ignition and Encouraging Women
Written by
She Writes
March 2019
Written by
She Writes
March 2019

Amber Tamblyn, the actress, filmmaker, #MeToo activist, and author of Any Man (June 2018), just released her latest book, Era of Ignition: Coming of Age in a Time of Rage and Revolution, a passionate and deeply personal collection of essays that explore parallels between her own life experiences and her larger cultural and political beliefs.

In an interview on The View, Tamblyn summarized her motivation behind the book:

“A lot of the book is part memoir,” says Tamblyn. “It looks at my life growing up in the entertainment business and the sort of existential crisis I went through in my 20s trying to figure out who and what I wanted to be beyond this idea of an actress, beyond this idea of being this object that was performing for other people all the time. And while I was going through this, and certainly into my 30s as well, I’ve felt that this crazy state of chaos that we’re in that is very scary to everyone, that feels like the foundation of our country is coming up and being shifted and moving, is its own sort of national existential crisis. And I talk about a lot proactive change in the book and how we can all use that to affect greater, better change, and that is the idea of an era of ignition – of not being afraid of the chaos because the chaos leads to clarity eventually.”

The promise of change inspired action for Tamblyn, who ultimately believes that self-reflection can lead to resoundingly positive change. She uses the book to align her experiences with the larger climate of our culture.

“The book talks about this idea of working together in intersectional values, which means across party lines, across gender and race and class, and saying, ‘How can we all uplift each other so there’s not just he few of us,’ and so we’re not just standing in a corner saying, ‘This is what I believe and I’m not interested in what you believe’. It’s our differences that makes each of us unique and so much of that is listening to each other.’”

On Raising Up Women

Tamblyn is a feminist, and urges women to stop questioning our own worthiness and intelligence.

“There’s a quote in my book where I paraphrase something Hillary Clinton had written about giving people promotions when she was a partner at her law firm,” she says. “When she would give men promotions, they would always say thank you so much for this opportunity, I won’t let you down. When she would give women promotions they would say thank you so much for this opportunity, are you sure? This questioning of our own intelligence, of what we have to offer, is so ingrained in women. It’s also ingrained to see other women that way, which is the Susan Collins effect where women in positions of power don’t value other women in positions of power. But I think that’s changing now. I really do. It’s small, but I do feel that it’s changing.”

This excerpt originally appeared on Read it Forward. Read the full interview here.

On Her Writing Process

When writing for film or a book, Tamblyn reportedly spends a lot of time outlining and carrying the story with her.

“I’m slow to the process in that way, but that’s good for me,” she says. “It used to be something where I thought something was wrong with me. I had friends who were putting out a book every single year, or doing a movie or TV show every five seconds, and I would go, ‘Why can’t I do that?’”

“But I’ve come to realize that I move very slowly, but I move intentionally. There’s nothing about my slowness that’s not intentional. Everything is me thinking and processing and absorbing information, in order to create something that I hope will be profound.”

This excerpt was originally published on Creative Screenwriting. Read the full interview here.

On Advice for Writers

Tamblyn recommends that writers “go for the throat” – both when getting the audience’s attention right from the beginning, and when it comes to the editing process.

“I feel like people don’t go for the throat quick enough,” she says. “A great poem starts with a great line, and you have to grab your audience quick. For me, those are the types of movies, or books, or poems, that are the best. Some people love a slow build but I don’t. I like to get in there quick. I like to get to the meat of what needs to be said.”

“I also think it’s really hard for people to kill their darlings. People get a little too precious with the work that they love, and they don’t consider what the work is that the audience might love.”

Ultimately, she encourages writers to have the confidence to cut whatever doesn’t work.

“To find tone you have to do that, and sometimes that means killing the thing you love the most. I know I always do that with poems. I send them to other poets. Oftentimes they’ll go, “Cut all of this. I know you think this is great, but it’s not.” And you go, ‘Damn it. I know you’re right.’”

“And also ask for advice,” she offers. “Ask for people’s points of view. Ask for opinions from people that aren’t in our business. Ask poets. Ask veterinarians. Ask Hillary Clinton. Ask people and see what they think of the work.”

This excerpt was originally published on Creative Screenwriting. Read the full interview here.

Photo Credit: Katie Jacobs

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