Tag Archives: dreaming

Counting my fan chickens before they’re hatched

I want to journal again. I hate that I’ve written so little recently, and I want to get back to my previous five or so times a week. And not just about my writing, though I want to talk a lot about that. I want to get my life and my thoughts back in here. But for the moment, I’m probably going to talk a lot about writing.

If I ever become truly successful as a writer, with a significantly large fanbase, one thing I’d like to be able to do is hire an intern whose sole job is to take in the reactions of fans. They would then distill this reaction down to the important upshots, filtering out the noise from the signal. This distilllate they would finally pass on to me, so that I would be aware of what fans were thinking and feelings, but not necessarily have to be steeped into all the bullshit that often comes of a throng of many different voices with many different opinions and many ways of expressing those opinions. Not to say that fans are inherently nasty, or that dissention is inherently wrong, but everyone’s seen instances of fans getting mean and taking things to extremes. As I mentioned, I would want to keep abreast of reactions and possible criticisms to my work, but having that intern person to filter the important information out from the nastiness or extremity would help keep me sane. I have a feeling I would stress out inordinately about my inability to please everyone enough without having to hear the meanness on top of it.

In related news, I am taking an extended break from Tumblr. The negativity has just been too much lately. I’m not deleting my blogs or anything, but I don’t want to go back to it anytime soon. It’s time to break the habit.

Two fans, these opinions

In my rare free moments in the last few weeks, I’ve been checking out TV Tropes. It’s a really addictive website, easy to get lost on, but I always find myself most drawn to reading not the pages about in-story tropes, but rather the ones about the creative process. I’ve always been fascinated by process, the ways people go about making stories, so I’ve been reading the pages about how authors went about making their work, the influences that factored into the story design, even the way fans and critics reacted and what effect that had.

Fans are wonderful; I’d like to develop a following of them myself. But because of their plural nature, they often have many disparate opinions. I believe it’s important to consider outside assessments of your work, as new sets of eyes can see things you haven’t. But it can be confusing and frustrating when they’re telling you all sorts of conflicting things that you could not possibly reconcile with any quality. I have a tendency to imagine what I would do if I were experiencing a certain situation, so I have found myself preoccupied with how I would respond if I have a large fanbase that had multiple incompatible opinions of my work. It’s rather putting the cart before the horse in my case, as I’m still building my fanbase, but I hope to get there someday, and I’d like to deal with it well when I do.

On one hand, you have to stand up for the things in your work you believe in. A good writer has a certain expertise, and that usually includes good instincts on what makes the most dramatic action. Fans sometimes more out of emotional connection to a work– which is by no means a criticism, as their emotional connection is the most satifying thing a writer can achieve –but a lot of the time they like, want, or criticize things out of sentimentality, rather than what makes for the highest-stakes story.

At the same times, an author’s perspective is inherently limited by the fact that they are one person and they are humanly imperfect. Fans, by virtue of the fact that they are different people and they may be myriad, will have perspectives that are beyond the author. Therefore they may be able to point out problems the writer isn’t necessarily aware of. The ability to take criticism and incorporate other perspectives is how a serious writer improves their art, and you want to show respect to the people who have been good enough to invest their time and emotional resources in your work.

The key, I think, would be to not let yourself lose sight of the idea of that you cannot please everybody. I can see myself getting too wrapped up in the fact that some people weren’t happy. You can only do the best work you possibly can, which means listening to what people have to say in good faith, and using your own good judgment as to what to take to heart and what to let go. Of course the solution is, as always, balance. But God knows how hard balance can be to attain.

Redesigning the Bethany Loring dress in The Tailor at Loring’s End

I’ve been resisting it for some time, but I think I really do need to redesign the dress in The Tailor at Loring’s End.

As I’ve mentioned, my big inspiration for the look of it was the green dress Keira Knightley wore in Atonement, specifically the long, straight silhouette and the hip swag. They don’t often these days design really iconic dresses for movies anymore—not like they did for the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly —and I thought that was the only such example to come out of the movies in years. If this movie got made, I would want this dress to be iconic in that way, so that people remembered it and saw it as a tribute to that classic sort of costume design tradition. “The Bethany Loring dress, in cornflower blue, with lily shapes beaded on the bodice.” I was even pleased when I realized that what I was imagining was roughly appropriate for the 1930s, given that most of Tailor takes place in 1934.

imageWhat I hadn’t taken into account, however, was the fact that the other part of Tailor takes place back in 1917— and the dress was actually designed back then. Which made my mental image of it totally wrong for the era in which it was made. This frustrated me, as I was actually pretty attached to my mental image, but it was just too far off even for artistic license. I ignored it for a long time, as I didn’t want to deal. But now that I’m writing a treatment for Tailor, the problem jumps out at me again.

Fortunately, since writing it I’ve become a fan of things like Downton Abbey, which as given me more of an eye for the look and design style of 1910s gowns. I think I can reasonably translate my vision of the dress into something that wouldn’t look totally, utterly inconceivable for the time. Especially since the major design elements I’m imagining— a cowled overlay on the neckline, a beaded bodice, and the Atonement-inspired hip swag —all could be reasonably included on a 1910s evening dress.

Of course this is all a pretty minor thing. If the movie ever got made, even in my wildest dreams, an actual costume designer would be making those decisions instead of me. Still, the design elements are referenced in the script, and some of them are even plot-relevant. To a certain extent, there would be a need to interpret my vision. So I’m glad I’ve finally come around to the changes it would be necessary to make.