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Posts Tagged ‘george lucas’

I’m sitting looking at a picture of an original Star Wars movie poster–and when I say Star Wars, I mean Star Wars, not A New Hope. I put the “old” in old-school; I saw Star Wars the night it premiered–because I saw the poster featured on “Antiques Roadshow,” and I thought the appraiser under-valued it, so I looked it up. And now I’m looking at it, and I see three pretty much unknown actors listed, followed by Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness, who were anything but unknown. It follows that George Lucas paid a pretty penny to get them. Which leads to the question:

What did he think he was doing?

I don’t mean that pejoratively, as in, “Was he crazy, spending that kind of money on a space opera?” I mean, really, what did he think he was accomplishing? What do any of us think we’re accomplishing when we write a story or make a movie or paint a painting? And more to the point, should we be proud of what we’ve done?

You look at Star Wars now, and it’s gone way past “global phenomenon.” But back in the day, we didn’t know it would do that. Certainly when that grandiose poster was printed, nobody knew if the darn thing was going make a dime. It could easily have been laughed out of the theater–and would have, if it hadn’t made so much money. So it’s easy to say now, “That’s something George Lucas can be proud of!” But what about before?

You’d hope no creative person would release story or movie  that he wasn’t proud of, but we know that’s not the case. (Where there’s a buck, there’s a way. And someone who is proud of it–proud of making a buck, anyway.) But is that legitimate? Are we allowed to be proud of a story if no one ever publishes it? I mean, seriously, are we allowed to be proud of a story that sucks? Are we allowed to be more proud of it if someone publishes it–and then it wins a Hugo? On the other hand, are we allowed to be proud of writing a story that wins a Hugo–even if we ourselves don’t think it was worthy?

It is said that, “Pride goeth before a fall.” But it’s also said, “Don’t submit a story you wouldn’t want others to read.” So pride is bad, but without it, nobody knows you exist. And in the end, you may be the only person who even thinks you should be proud of what you’ve done–which sounds like a great recipe for a fall to me.

I sent a story yesterday to a major magazine. I had real hopes for it. I was proud of it. I thought this could be my chance to break into a new market. I went to bed happy. Fifteen hours later, it came back. A form letter, not even a personal note. I was proud, now I’m fallen.

But I sent it out again immediately. Because I’m proud of it? No. (Although I am.) I sent it out again because I like it. And that’s even more important. You can be proud of doing a job well even if it’s a job you don’t like. But to do a job well enough that you like it, well, that’s something to be proud of.

#SFWApro

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Writing is a lot like a romantic relationship. As I was talking about with a friend, a writer can take you places you would not normally go, if he or she establishes trust first. For example, we all know that in Star Wars, the spaceships and explosions make sound–in space. And we all know that can’t happen; space is a vacuum, “no one can hear you scream,” right?

But by the same token, we don’t care. We don’t care because George Lucas created such an entertaining universe that we’re willing to let him have his little idiosyncrasies. Somehow,  he established our trust in him almost immediately (for me, it was the scrolling letters that always remained in focus. That was the mark of a man who cared.)

A writer can establish trust by his canon of work. You know he will tie the story together, no matter how weird it gets, because he’s done it before. But a new writer doesn’t have that luxury. He has to earn your trust by laying that groundwork in front of you. And if he fails, he may fail to have a career. In romantic terms, he may never have a relationship.

So maybe take a chance on a new writer once in a while. After all, he can’t rest on his laurels; he has to prove himself every time. I’m not saying that high-selling authors don’t try any more, but that new writer, he might just be trying a little harder.

And who doesn’t want a partner who’s willing to go the extra mile to impress you?

#SFWApro

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1. Star Trek was (originally) on TV; Star Wars was in theaters. Point: Star Wars.

2. In Wrath of Khan, the villain reconfigured an entire planet; in Star Wars, Darth Vader blew up an entire planet. Point: Star Wars.

3. In Star Trek, the good guys drove the Enterprise; in Star Wars, the good guys drove the Millennium Falcon. Point: Star Trek.

4. On average, one of two Star Trek movies is any good; Star Wars has had one good trilogy, and one…well. Point: Both of you need to try harder.

5. Star Trek‘s captain had a second who could beat him at chess; Star Wars‘s captain had a second who would tear people’s arms off if he lost. Point: Star Trek.

6. Star Trek had an integrated crew; Star Wars had one black guy who appeared half-way through the second movie. Point: Star Trek.

7. Star Trek often featured advanced beings who looked human (when they wanted to); in Star Wars, the most advanced being was a wrinkled green Muppet. Point: Star Wars.

8. In Star Trek, the hero cheated his way through the Academy; in Star Wars, the hero couldn’t get into the Academy. A tie.

9. Star Trek managed to tell some good stories despite being on network TV in the 1960s; Star Wars managed to tell some bad stories despite being a multi-billion dollar franchise with a world-wide fan base and access to the best writers in Hollywood, not to mention Indiana Jones. Point: Star Trek.

10. In Star Trek, they set phasers on “stun;” in Star Wars, there’s no such thing as a lightsaber on “stun.” Point: Star Wars.

Final score: 4-4-2. A tie. Feel free to add on points in favor of your team.

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