Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

So damn typical

I work for hours figuring out the rhythm of the storyboards I need to do and get the first section actually done -- and at 9:30 last night got an e-mail that the script had been rewritten by the client. And which part did he rework the most? The opening that I'd just completed. Half my work's out the window and the whole rhythm of the piece is now different. And it still needs to be ready for the client by Monday. Picture a primal scream here.

I had some insight into Brendan's story while exchanging e-mails with a fan of my erotica. I wasn't like a huge revelation; more of a bit of clarity coming through as to why I'm so focused on building him and his situation with as much reality as I can. It's extremely important that this story be firmly rooted in Brendan's humanity and not fall into fears about plot or the requirements of fictional storytelling...and novelists have to follow almost as many as screenwriters. I can't tell you how many times I've read books where the plotting took over the story to the detriment of the characters and any reality, and it's been done by good authors as well as second rate ones. Latest example -- Isaac Asimov's prequel to his "Foundation Trilogy."

I absolutely love the trilogy but wasn't too crazy about the follow-ups, still I recently decided to reread them and I started with the Prequel -- and what a disastrous decision. It was crap where people did things because that's what the plot called for, and the supposed hero -- Hari Seldon -- came across as a twit who's easily manipulated into believing anything he's told. I refused to finish the book and, instead, jumped back into the trilogy...but the awfulness of the prequel colored my reading of the original work and I had to put it aside or lose my respect for Asimov's writing.

I dunno -- maybe I should have lost my respect for it. He used some pretty archaic grammar. But he still wove some interesting stories and put forth some fascinating ideas about the strengths and weaknesses of various types of warfare -- be it head to head or via commerce or religion -- and how people dealt with the trials and tribulations of history and the future. I think I'll just keep my memory of his work and not revisit it. Sometimes that's a lot better way to deal with a creative work.

Y'know, this reminds me of the time I went to Dublin and saw the Book of Kells. It's an illuminated manuscript hand printed and drawn on vellum and is around a thousand years old. Definitely one of Ireland's treasures, and I looked forward to being impressed. Well...that probably would have happened had I not been working in an antiquarian book shop in LA. And had we not recently held an exhibit of nearly two dozen illuminated manuscripts -- worth more than $15m, meaning round the clock security -- and I'd helped set them out and handled some truly elegant works from the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries. So I go to see the Book of Kells...and my first thought is, "I've seen better." Thank god I kept it to myself; if I'd said it aloud, I probably would have been ripped limb from limb by irate leprechauns. But I actually was disappointed. Hell, I paid 10 Euro to get in, and while the information on how to make vellum and the whole history of printing was nice, I felt so much like I'd been ripped, I didn't even go upstairs to the long hall, which is supposedly even more impressive.

I went back 4 years later, just to see if I'd been silly...and it IS a nice copy of an elegant style of bookmaking. And this time I did go up to the long hall and was suitably impressed by the thousands of ancient volumes in it, but I won't back again. I had a nicer time at the Guinness Storehouse I got a pint of Guinness on the top floor and had a lovely panorama view of Dublin, to boot.

The point of all this? I don't know. Managing expectations? Not getting carried away with what you think is great or cool or evil? Maybe sometimes the idea of something is better than the reality of it? I dunno. I just tell the stories and let others figure them out. It's a cheat...but that's the story of my life.

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