theferrett: (Meazel)

Whenever someone bitches about how stupid the creators are for producing a terrible movie, I think of Star Wars.  Not Star Wars, the global sensation that’s been around for thirty years – but Star Wars, the over-budget mess in mid-production, staffed by no-name actors, directed by the guy who’d had only one decent movie in the can.

If you read the interviews with the actors, they all went out after filming every day and got hammered.  And why not?  By day, you’re reading terrible, stilted dialog while the director screams at you: “Faster!  And more intense!”  You don’t see the special effects; you’re on a wooden screen, knowing the studio wants to shut this production down.  You don’t hear the John Williams music doing half the emotional work for you.  All you know is that this crazy maniac is telling you that all your attempts to emote lines like “How could I be so stupid? He’s nowhere in sight. Blast it!” aren’t sufficient while idiots in white plated armor are firing imaginary guns at you.

Why wouldn’t you drink?

Why wouldn’t you think this movie was the end of your career?

And even then, you’re wrong.  I know you’re thinking, “Well, it was all a success after that,” but… The movie that George Lucas directed did bomb.  The unsung hero of Star Wars is the film editor, who realized the initial cut was about twenty minutes too long, and went back and sped up the film to helter-skelter speeds – because the minute you had a second to pause and think about things, the whole thing fell apart.  The initial few cuts were legendary failures, and everyone in Hollywood was kissing George Lucas’ career goodbye.

The reason I say this is because I work in a couple of creative fields – I write stories, and I handle Magic: the Gathering cards as my day job.  And whenever something isn’t particularly, there’s this entitled, sneering reaction from the fans.  They leave comments over and over again with the same basic premise: “God, you’re so fucking stupid.  Fixing it’s so easy.  Why didn’t you just do X?”

Because it’s not that simple when you’re in the middle of the damn thing, that’s why.

Look, if we could all write glorious stories of magnificent heartbreak every time, we would.  But the creative process is really very complicated.  You’re complaining with the fresh sight of retrospect.  Scott Kurtz, author of webcomic PVP, once said that you couldn’t really critique a webcomic until you’d done one.  At the time, I disagreed strongly.  Once I had a year of producing a webcomic under my belt, well, I wasn’t so certain.

It’s not that you can’t critique – hell, you absolutely should.  I spent this week slamming Prometheus for failing absolutely on all but an allegorical level.  But when you critique, you shouldn’t take the attitude that the creative process is simple… And particularly not if you’ve never made anything and thrown your darling out to a crowd of angry, ungrateful people to be savaged.

When the project is done, it’s easy to look back and see what could have done better.  But in the middle of things, when you’re looking at a half-blank slate and the world is full of ten thousand choices, it’s hard to fathom that this one choice is the critical one.  Or perhaps – and this is the thing that the people who think “it’s simple” never get – that you made a hundred very good choices, more than most people ever do, enough to catapult your film/book/card game/music past the realms of “stuff that no one pays attention to” and into the realm of “good enough to for many people to like” – and in the process of making those hundred choices absolutely correctly, the one that stopped it from being pure genius got by you.

And maybe – just maybe – it’s possible that as a creator, you make a film/book/card game/music that absolutely satisfies you, but doesn’t hit anyone else’s good points.  That happens.  A lot.  And if you’re sitting there squalling because the creator should have “known better,” then maybe you should try creating stuff that’s perfect for you, and see the horrifying variance in reactions when your “perfect” product hits the shelves.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t criticize.  If Promethus sucks, well, it failed.  If something I write doesn’t win every award, well, it’s worthwhile to point out why my stories didn’t pan out.  But what you should not do is to treat the whole thing as a big ball of rage, as if we purposely set out to annoy you when making it.

We didn’t.  We wanted to make beauty.  Something got in the way, and we’re sorry… But if this was as easy as you think, then everyone would do it.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

This Friday, I get to see Jonathan Coulton opening for They Might Be Giants.  As you can imagine, my socks are squishy with nerd-spooge.

But there’s also a level of stress here.  Because I hate going to concerts unprepared – and JoCo has a new album, as to TMBG.  What if they play a song and I can’t sing along?  I’m supposed to be a fan.  So I’m power-chugging each of their new CDs, inhaling the tracks so that I at least have a passing familiarity.  (This is a pleasure for JoCo’s new album, which is entertaining and original except for the not-GladOS, not-JoCo version of “Still Alive”; it’s less of a pleasure for TMBG’s new album, which sounds like a computer learned how to produce efficiency yet uninspired tunes in the TMBG vein.)

I know, I should just sit back and enjoy.  And I can.  But I enjoy it more when I know everything they play, so I’m boning up on this like I was studying for a test.  And I only have four days to be able to sing along properly!

Anyone else do this?  I can’t be alone in this, can I?  I know it’s freakish.


Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Between my bees and my writing and my Blog-A-Thonning, I am absolutely swamped today.  I was hoping to dash off a quick entry on Why Science Fiction Is Harder To Read Than Fantasy, inspired by some early critique on The Novel of Doom, my early reaction to China Mieville’s Embassytown, and the three attempts it took me before I could get through the first four chapters of Dune, but…. it shall have to wait.

However, as the Clarion Blog-A-Thon ends tomorrow, I’d like to remind you about it.  I got about $200 in donations yesterday (thanks in part to the new fabulous prize offered up by Ms. Valente), but that still leaves me with about $300 to go to get to my donation goal of $2,000 – which is about what it takes to send a single person to Clarion.  I now have six professional sales under my belt, a status I could have only dreamed of four years ago – really, Clarion changed my life in a lot of ways, showing me that really, hard work can turn a fairly average fiction writer into someone publishable.

I want others to continue to have that experience.

So if you can, please donate.  There are prizes from Neil Gaiman and Catherynne M. Valente, and access to a novel-in-progress.  You will be doing a good thing, and I’m doing what I can to make it worth your while.  Even a couple of bucks will help.

Thanks so much, either way.  I know the journal tends to become the Blog-A-Thon Central during these six weeks; I appreciate your patience and care.  But, you know, it’s even better if you donate!

In a non-Clarion brief note, holy shit is the soundtrack to Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson a work of brilliance.  President Andrew Jackson re-envisioned as an emo rock star, with all the soap opera bits taken straight from real life?  I can’t stop listening to this damn thing.  Highly recommended.


Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I was flipping through the Rock Band song list yesterday for something I was in the mood to play, when I got to The Police.

“RAWKZ-ANNE,” Gini warbled behind me in a purposely off-key yowl.  “YOO DOAN HAVE DO PUT ON DA RED LIGHT.  RAAAAAAWKZ-ANNE – Good Lord, that song’s terrible.”

“No, no, it’s good,” I protested.  “Or was.  That’s, like, one of those songs that’s awesome the first ninety-nine times you hear it.  Then you hear it that hundredth time and it curdles like a broken cream sauce.  I remember really loving that song once.  Sure, it’s like eating a big slice of tin foil pie now, but that’s just because of repetition taking all the beauty out of it.”

Later on, I selected Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which is really how I think of Gini, but she dislikes it.  “I’m so sad you don’t like this song,” I told her.  “It really is beautiful.”

“It’s another hundred-song,” she explained.  “Remember, I grew up in the 70s.  I spent a whole summer listening to that over and over again.”

So here’s my question for you all: What song was once good for you, but has now been obliterated by a zillion repetitions?  Feel free to describe the exact flavor of your hatred.  I’m curious.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.


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