Roll the Credits

My husband and I are two of the only people I know who routinely remain in our seats at the end of a movie and watch the entire credits – all the way to the IATSE logo, the assurance that no animals were harmed, and the copyright date. We don’t move until the house lights come up.

I’m not sure why Bill does this; it’s possible that, being the sweet and patient fellow he is, he merely remains out of politeness and deference to my wishes. I’ll have to ask; we’re taking a bunch of boys to Where the Wild Things Are this weekend.

I stay for several reasons.

As someone who spent many years as an actor and is married to a man with a great deal of experience in theatre and film, I know about the phenomenal amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into both stage and film productions. In Broken for You, part of the impetus behind making one of the main characters a stage manager (and inventing in Troy a “techie” sweetheart for her) was to send a valentine to all those unsung, salt-of-the-earth film and stage heroes who do their work in the shadows.

So, sitting in the dark as the credits roll is one way for me to honor the efforts of those folks, whose names are largely unknown, and whose photos will never be sought by the parparazzi. I often feel as though my husband and I are there to stand in for family members who would surely exclaim (as I will if Noah or Sam’s names ever appear in miniscule print as part of a long list of production assistants or grips or drivers or whatever), “There he is!” and beam with pride.

There is also for me great power and meaning in the witnessing of names, the listing of names, the recitation of names. I will always remember sitting in bed on a Friday night years ago and listening to Ted Koppel devote an entire “Nightline” program – a full thirty minutes, without commercial interruption – to a recitation of the names of the first thousand American soldiers killed in the Iraq war. I remember watching too when the names of the 9/11 dead were read. And when I researched the Holocaust element of Broken for You, I felt compelled to write a section in which Margaret, like me, was overwhelmed by the way in which all that remains of so many Holocaust victims is their names, recorded coldly and without comment in a ledger, as if they were inventory – which, in a very real sense, they were.

What follows is a list of names. They appear in no particular order, and the list will be an ongoing one. I have wanted for years to create a place in the website where I could offer up gratitude to all the people who have helped me arrive as writer – a person who (as Mr. Spielberg is fond of saying) dreams for a living.

The list includes family members, friends, colleagues, other writers. It includes the living and the dead. It includes people I’ve clasped hands with, and people who are only known to me through the gift of their words. All have taught me valuable lessons – and continue to do so.

In gratitude then, roll the credits:

Dorie and Greg Kallos • Mama and Papa Johns • William Johns • Noah Johns • Sam Johns • Simon Lipskar • Lauren Wein • Shary Kopit • Dan Lazar • Morgan Entrekin • Deb Seager • Judy Hottensen • Cindy Heidemann • Cheryl McKeon • Ron Sher • ALL INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLERS EVERYWHERE • Sam Davidson • Saul Bellow • Anne Lamott • Natalie Goldberg • Ellen Gilchrist • Robert Olen Butler • Bonnie Friedman • Dorothea Brande • Brenda Ueland • Tillie Olson • Ray Bradbury • Nancy Pearl • Shirley Jackson • Gabriele Lusser Rico • Julia Cameron • Raymond Carver • Melvin Sterne • Nancy Rawles • Joan Rabinowitz • Paul Nelson • Deborah Frockt • Peter Pereira • Ted Kooser • Diane Wakowski • James Dickey • Mary Oliver • Jane Kenyon • Jane Smiley • Joan Didion • Hope Edelman • Hope McClure • Gloria Steinem • Amy Wheeler • HEDGEBROOK • RAGDALE • Dave King • John Irving • Anne Tyler • Anne Sexton • William Shakespeare • Sabin Epstein • Tony Mockus • Dr. Robert H. Hobbs • Nancy Lane • Craig Turner • Dr. Richard Nichols • Dr. Rex McGraw • Dr. William Morgan • Bill Kirk • Jane Kosminski • Liz Smith • Tim Monich • Deena Burke • June Williams • Nancy Mastalir • Barbara and Audnun Ravnan • Charles Stubblefield • Frances Malpezzi • Clifford Odets • Jeffrey Hatcher • Christopher Hampton • Caryl Churchill • Shirley Gee • Charles Dickens • Sylvia Plath • Harper Lee • Tennessee Williams • Sheri Holman • Sue Monk Kidd • Malachi McCourt • David Guterson • Craig English • Michael Maschinot • Ellen Parker • ChiChi Stewart-Singler • Lisa Lynch • Ron Pellegrino • Scott Kaiser • J. D. Salinger • Lorrie Moore • Tova Mirvis • Lolly Winston • Randy Sue Coburn • Kit Bakke • Heather Barbieri • Garth Stein • Mary Guterson • Carol Cassella • Jennie Shortridge • Erica Bauermeister • Maria Semple • Jim Lynch • Tiffany Baker • Myla Goldberg • Stefan Merrill Block • Chaim Potok • Leif Enger • Elisabeth Schmidtz • Jessica Monahan • Madeleine L’Engle • Elizabeth McCracken • Alice Sebold • Anita Shreve • A. S. Byatt • Nicole Krauss • Richard Russo • Susan Rich • Roger Welsch • Mr. Peterson • Mrs. Hurd • Mrs. Groth • Mrs. Greene • Tom Bothwell • John Reimnitz • Athol Fugard • Samuel Beckett • Daphne du Maurier • Carolyn Keene • Ian McEwan • Katie and Maggie Fox • Kate Fleming • Tavia Lynn Gilbert • David Hare • Jane Austen • Louisa May Alcott • Rosemary Daszkiewicz • Jamie Ford • Dave Boling • Kevin O’Brien • Laurie Frankel • Cindy Heidemann • Marilyn Dahl • Jenn Risko • Cheryl McKeon • Kate Carroll de Gutes • Kevin McIlvoy • Matt Gani • Paul Marz • Ben Bauermeister • Jane Jones • Myra Platt • Patricia Britton • Book-it Repertory Theatre • Boegart Bibby • Christina Janssen and her 3rd grade class at Sand Point Elementary School in Seattle • Doris Grumbach • Alexandra Immel • Carol Cooper • Wendy Dell • Julie Hiers • Sarah Ketchley • Kelly Harland • Kate Buzzard • Barbara Burnett • Alyssa Burnett • Tesserae • THE ASPEN WRITERS FOUNDATION • Adrienne Brodeur • Mo Lamee • Jamie Kravitz • Isa Cato Shaw • Daniel Shaw • Bruce Nichols • Joe Volpe • Lisa Halpern • Lacey Leavitt • Amara Najera • Brynn MacIntosh • Susan Page Tillett • Carol Santoro • Chuck and Dee Robinson • Shelf Awareness • Jon Mayes • Karen Allman • Michael Coy • Rick Simonson • Robert Sindelar • Stesha Brandon • Wendy Manning • The 2013 Jack Straw Writers • Starbucks Store #358 • Fridrik Thor Fridrikson for the documentary, “A Mother’s Courage” • David E. Simpson and Kartemquin Films for the documentary, “Refrigerator Mothers” • Susan Hamovitch for her documentary, “Without Apology” • Todd Drezner for his documentary, “Loving Lampposts” • Timothy Archibald • Elijah Archibald • Kate Winslet • Joanne Koenig Coste • Paul Collins • Karl Taro Greenfeld •