When I was in college, I studied Media Communications. In the very beginning, a professor told me that I would never look at television or movie production the same way again. In fact, I probably wouldn’t enjoy the resulting product as much. They were right.
My first project involved creating a 30 second spot that combined two or three different sounds together. I decided it wasn’t enough of a challenge, so went after my favorite sound, music. I did so well the teacher thought I cheated. It took me four hours to do. Before that little exercise, I always wondered why it took years to produce a movie. Afterwards, there was no question in my mind. Perfection (or as near as us can come to it) takes time.
Editing the end of a video so that a person’s keys came down to the exact beat of the music. composing a theme for a local community cable show, and even directing a live to tape program had their own lessons. The live to tape one especially. One week, everything that could wrong did, including us going live on air for five minutes. The next, it was as smooth as silk. That one was a rush I will never forget. Even after all these years, I still crave the chance to get back in the center seat.
As much as the experience taught me, it also left me jaded. I don’t buy into the hype of a new television series, so I either miss it completely or come in at the very end. Netflix has helped with catching up somewhat, but not everything is on there. I’ve missed some classics. Same thing with movies. If the story doesn’t catch my attention and hold it, I spend the rest of the time picking it apart. Forget this sequel, action over story, and constant pounding of effects. Those don’t impress me. It takes a lot for me to suspend disbelief.
Books suffer the same fate
When I was a kid, I loved to read anywhere at anytime, even when riding in a car. There was one time I got really sick doing that. My family was in Syria headed up to Kessup and a village full of my dad’s relatives. We were in the back of a taxi. The driver drove with abandonment, not caring about anything but getting to his destination. He jerked around the turns so hard and fast I couldn’t compensate. The pleasurable task of reading quickly became a nauseous chore. I gave up and closed my eyes.
During that time of innocence and pleasure, I didn’t care about a story’s characters or its plotlines. As long as the story entertained me I was fine. It was even better when my mind took what I was reading and turned it into a movie inside my head. I knew a book was really good then.
The word to picture thing hasn’t happened in a while. Honing the craft of writing has made me very aware of the requirements for a good book. I didn’t read for a while because it gave me no pleasure to do so.
Joining a book group
I joined a book group on Facebook within the last few months because I needed inspiration. My writing was decent but growing stale in my head. I figured that following the adage of “all writers must read” would help. It did and it didn’t. After I turned off my writing brain, I was able to sort of enjoy books again. I still find myself picking up on patterns of word usage, formatting mistakes, not connecting with characters, and other flaws that force me to give three or four stars to my fellow authors when I know if I was a normal reader I would give them four or five.
The group also offered the chance for me to submit my own work. Knowing that it was the stronger of my two published works I decided on Legend. I haven’t submitted it yet. I started seeing the same issues from other people’s books in mine. What started as a simple hunt for typos turned into an infinite editing session that I’m just now pulling out of. Has Legend changed a lot? Yes and no. Word usage has been cleaned up, but the story remains intact. In fact, some places it’s been enhanced.
My problem is with how many times I started the process over again because I wasn’t sure about how far I wanted to take it. Given the experience, I’ve decided that Goins’ five draft method of writing applies to editing as well. I hoping to have the edit done in the next few weeks so I can return to writing more Stars of Heros stories. While I regret the time I’ve wasted with all the false starts, I know Legend will survive the scrutiny of the FB group better because of what I’ve done.