Apparently, I’m back to not writing again. It is odd how the times that grab me with something to say aren’t when I have time to address the affliction. Possibly it’s lucky for me that I can put it away and not recall it in the times where there’s space to fill. Like now, I should be off to bed, and I could be. But I’m here composing because I thought of this on the way to my room and returned to the computer after it was put to sleep. And it isn’t flowing. And maybe that’s what I worry about most. Writing is hard, at least for me. I find it to be very rewarding, when it goes well. Which isn’t often.
I worry a lot about what I’m writing. I don’t want it to be trite, or (too) melancholy, or just tinged with the reflection of better days gone by. I listen to what others have written for tv and roll my eyes quite often. And I don’t want to be the source for such awful tropes and stilted dialogue. But there’s bad, and bad, I guess. I’m not sure I really have anything to say* that hasn’t been said, and in better ways.
I’ve been watching the commentary on the Firefly tv episodes on DVD. I don’t often pay attention to DVD extras. I think it was “The Lord of the Rings” that did me in. I put the commentary on for a lark when I watched “The Avengers” once after about a dozen times. I really enjoyed it because Joss Whedon gave a lot of what I considered valuable, educational information, not just anecdotes. (Although that was quality also)
After “The Avengers” I was really hungry for more Whedon commentary and found that the “Serenity” commentary did not fail to satisfy. I (virtually) ran out and obtained a copy of “Cabin in the Woods”, which turned out to be a movie I could get behind despite it being of a genre that I usually avoid. Unfortunately I got a copy without commentary there. So I started in on Firefly, and was somewhat disappointed that not all episodes have commentary, but it’s been fairly educational. In all the commentary I’ve found out two basic things. First: some of the dialog they thought was awful turned out surprisingly nice in the way it was delivered by the actors (despite the problems the actors have with wishing they’d delivered it differently). And Second: sometimes expediency dictates the path you have to travel for the overall narrative, even if you don’t like exactly how you get there.
That second one seems like a little of a cop-out, but the example Joss gave was the killing of the alien mothership in “The Avengers” and having all the aliens still in Manhattan falling dead. He didn’t really like it, but needed to get past the ‘mopping up’ phase to resolve the movie in a timely manner. I remember at the time I saw the movie in the theater I knew what was coming and was a little disappointed in that resolution, but I got over it pretty quick.
It is hard to believe, though, that the real groaner dialogue from some of these b-grade tv shows that I’ve been hearing is due solely to the actors portraying their characters woodenly, and the directors letting them get away with it. I have, on occasion, taken some dialogue I really like out of context and just said it plainly in my mind, and it does sound like some of the crap I write, so maybe there is something to that.
Following that train of thought leads me back to “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and the issues of Quality that drove Robert Pirsig around the bend, which is where I sit now, stuck in a Gumption Trap with just about anything I’ve been trying to do lately. One of the things I think I learned from Zen and the Art was that to get out of the trap you just start by doing little things. Cleaning up the shop was one of his examples. By putting the tools away and making order it kind of gives you the kick to overcome the inertia in starting a project. I’ve been trying that the last couple weeks in the studio trying to get some momentum to do the things I need to do to get pottery going. Possibly it’s little things like this that will help me to get writing again, which I feel some inexplicable compulsion to be doing, even though I don’t know that I have anything to say. Apparently, I’m not going to find a muse with attitude and a knife to my throat.
* I think I’ve mentioned Lorites before