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  1. #1
    Jack Klaw

    Be True To Your Vision

    I write all the time, so I end up writing a lot for other people. I can't really call any of that my vision; rather it's the craft of writing someone else's vision. Sometimes this involves writing advertising from strategies derived from research or focus groups. Sometimes it is a short film, a video, something stroking a star's ego or a charity foundation's needs. Sometimes it's a TV Special where I sell the concept and after that I'm a slave to the ideas of the network execs that they assign to the show. If it's cartoon stuff, they give me a story bible and I follow it to the letter. I recently wrote a 24 page romantic fantasy for an advanced bathing shower system. It was fun, but it wasn't really my idea, in fact, it was based on Paul Gauguin's journal Noa Noa. Point is, when you write other people's concepts or co-write with heavy handed clients, you have to be enormously flexible. You're not talking about your own vision. You start with the notion that there are any number of right ways to do the project; your job is to make sure the one you produce for the client isn't one of the wrong ways. That's a discipline 90% of all professional writers have to learn, or they would do better to find a new career path. Because 90% of all writing for money is based on someone else's idea. It's their vision, not mine or yours. Even if you come up with what is known as "the concept" you're still going to feel a heavy hand on your shoulder as you peck away at the keyboard.

    Nothing wrong with that. You get enough of that kind of work and you won't have to teach or run a fishing tackle shop (I've done both) to pay the rent. But when you write on spec, it is a whole new and different thing. Now it is your vision, your dream, your concept, your idea. You're paying for it with your talent and your time. Now it is actually bad to be totally open to all that free (or not so free) advice.

    When a writer sits down to write any long-form (novel, book of short stories, screenplay, non-fiction book)on spec (that is, without a contract for pay), it is his or her responsibility to be highly selective about the huge clamor and din that erupts from the idle bystanders, many of whom make a living off of the writer's sweat and tears. The bottom line is, a writer can't write for everybody.

    When I sit down to write my own stuff, I only think of one person, one individual reader or viewer, the poor shmoo marketing has convinced to buy my book or film.

    I try to maintain my writer's integrity. To me, that means my project has to hang together as a whole and be true to my original concept. And, when I'm finished, if some publisher or producer wants to make sense to me, I appreciate it more when they talk craft first and sales second.

    Does that mean I never follow a questionable suggestion for money? Of course not. If someone is going to buy your work, but they want you to incorporate their ideas, you have to kick it up a notch. You have to extend yourself as a professional to find a way to weave their idea into your concept without ruining the entire work. Usually, you can. But take my advice: anybody wants to "fix", "enrich", "enhance" or "redirect" something you've written on spec, make them pay big for it. You can always go back to your own original idea on the next one.

  2. #2
    Bob Kellogg

    Re: Be True To Your Vision

    Very good illustration of how a sucessful professional regards his writing, Jack. Newbies, that's the state you should strive to achieve. Not only the attitude, but the knowledge of when you've actually realized your vision.

    The newbie is still learning how to implement his or her vision. It's one thing to have a concept, but something else to master the craft enough to communicate that concept to a reader. That's when newbies are especially vulnerable to suggestions that pull them one way and push them another.

    But eventually they learn which direction is their direction.

    Thanks for starting a good thread, Jack.

    Bob K.

  3. #3
    Glen T. Brock

    Re: Be True To Your Vision


    Your remarks remind me of an interview I once read. Mickey Spillane was once asked if he would consider rewrites of his novels. His reply went something like this: Sure! Pay me! What you see is what you get. I don't rewrite for free. (Note: I didn't use quotation marks because I'm not sure that's exactly what he said. You get the message.) Spillane felt he put as much as he had to into his first effort and it didn't need to be edited. Time has proved him right.

    Spillane could get away with this attitude because he had confidence in his work. He knew what he was writting was not only topical but true to his own heart. I never read a Spillane novel I thought was phoney. I've read a lot of other novels that are as phoney as a three dollar bill.

    What am I talking about? Spillane had machismo and he liked to show it. He had that tough guy image he promoted his entire career. The thing is he didn't need any of it. He could have worn white tuxedoes and a top hat but his novels would be some of the best the genre ever produced anyway. Why?

    Mickey Spillane and Sam Fuller have something in common. They have what Dashell Hammett had and what Robert Parker has too. They all know what they're talking about. In other words, they write from the heart.

    Nobody can teach you to write that way. You can't learn it from a book either. You have to see it in your mind. Writting is the process where memories are tranposed on to the page. These can be your memories or someone else's. But it is your mind's eye. The difference between genius and mediocraty is perception.

  4. #4
    bob faye

    Re: Be True To Your Vision

    The difference between genius and mediocraty is perception.

    Yes, but perception can still be manipulated can it not? why is it that bad writing can get published and fantastic writing be discarded.

  5. #5
    Glen T. Brock

    Re: Be True To Your Vision


    Two reasons:

    99% of everything ever published is CRAP!
    (Gosh, I wish I could remember who origionally said that!)

    Nobody ever went broke overestimating the tastlessness of the american public.

    There's alot of garbage out there Bob.

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