Today was an extremely productive day for me on the writing front. While at the Writing Project Conference today I joined in quite a few professional (educator) conversations, but I also buckled down and finished a solid revision of my critical “Farscape” essay. I have now emailed that to some first readers for feedback. It is extremely rough, but since I’m new to this type (and length) of writing I’d like to make sure I’m on the right draft before I dig in further.
Based on that work and other conversations today (and my blog yesterday) I started asking myself questions again about how we measure things. How did I know that the essay was ready for me to share with readers? How do I know when it is finally complete?
As I pondered this I started reflecting back on Kevin Smith’s movie Red State which I watched on Netflix recently. I really wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I had to it. I didn’t know what I wanted to say about it. I felt like the acting was amazing, especially the preacher (for those who don’t know this is based off the Westboro Baptist Church family at least in part) which means that a lot of the writing was strong. I walked away from the movie, however, feeling like something was missing. I decided, before I’d write about the movie, that I would also watch Kevin Smith’s commentary about the making of the movie and his discussion of process in general in the documentary Kevin Smith: Burn in Hell. I’ve also written about my reaction to Kevin Smith’s work in two other blogs posted here (with maybe a bit of writing project tie-in again) and there because I like how he engages in feedback about his work. He is giving you a product, but seems genuinely interested in what others think of it. I don’t always feel that way about all “artists” and especially not filmmakers.
In the Q & A Smith speaks to this idea of art and critics. Who exactly gets to measure the worth of your art? I have an internal (and external) conflict with this own issue in regards to writing and publishing. Some people hate the notion of gatekeepers (editors/publishers) and that is partially why they publish themselves. But, my writing life is directly in response to my reading life. I wanted to write because I wanted to reflect and respond on the world around me as well as the amazing writers who have given me such great locales to escape to so I kind of want some gatekeepers. I want others out there to help me be the best writer/communicator etc I can be.
All of these ideas started circling in my essay as well which I had originally thought was going to focus on how Ben Browder (the actor who played the main character on “Farscape”) developed the character of John Crichton when Browder wrote two episodes of the series. What I found, instead, was that I wanted to speak to Browder as how he developed as a writer. That’s the conversation I found I wanted to join. Will it be a good enough conversation to be published? That remains to be seen, but even if it isn’t I’m glad I wrote it.
Which brings me back to “Red State” and my other reflections in the writing project this week as we think a bit about different ways of making. Even if I don’t see it as some “perfect” (I like quote marks today) movie it still got me thinking and isn’t that what good “art” does? And since I’m usually making writing objects (and occasional photographs) should I try making something different tomorrow – like finally trying out minecraft?