Wednesday, June 02, 2010

If I get famous, leave my sketchbooks alone.

I was reading a 'Cracked' Article today entitled '6 Famous Geniuses You Didn't Know Were Perverts'.

The article mentioned the personal correspondence of James Joyce, a lot of which were extremely 'dirty' letters to his wife, that were published after his death.

My first thought was this: Why the hell did they publish Joyce's personal correspondence? Did they think that when he wrote private, personal letters to his wife he'd want them published? Did they think that letters to his friends would be in the same vein as Ulysses?

It's like J.R.R Tolkien's family. His son in particular seems absolutely hell bent of gathering up, publishing and selling every single word his dad ever scribbled down, from rejected story ideas to old shopping lists.

You see, there's a reason some things remain private and unshared. It's because the author doesn't want to share that material because it's either highly personal or it's just not very good. I would be very, very interested in reading Terry Pratchett latest work…but I have absolutely no interest in reading his shopping list, or the note he left for his wife saying he was going to be late in and could she pick up some milk if she happened to go to the store?

I personally have more than a few short stories on an old memory stick that I've never showed anyone or wanted to share…simply because they were crap. I have stuff that I wrote in highschool that I literally can't read without cringing because they're not only objectively bad, they're badly written from both a technical and storytelling standpoint.

… and if I somehow became the next Joanne Rowling or Stephen King, the absolute last thing I'd want is for someone to discover those old stories after I die and publish them.

What exactly do these people think? Did they think at some point in their lives people like Tolkien wrote a short story and thought "Hell, this is the best thing I've ever written! This is too good for other people, I'm keeping it in the junk drawer in my desk just for me!"

No.

I think it's mostly because most people don't understand the creative process. They don't understand that their favorite artist doesn't just crank out masterpiece after masterpiece. As any creative person will tell you, as an artist, what you mostly produce is an awful lot of mediocre shit. Authors don't just sit down at desks and write best sellers…first they fill a few hundred notebooks with a bunch of really crappy ideas or concepts in the hope they come up with something they can work with first. Then they write a bunch of stories that aren't very good and just don't work…then once in a while everything lines up and they end up with something decent. This they publish, the crap they don't.

Ah…wait a sec. I'm completely wrong. The real reason people do this is they know that a previously undiscovered Beatles recording or a previous unpublished short story by Raymond Chandler is going to sell like hotcakes and make someone a fuck-ton of money… even if the Beatles recording is John Lennon tuning a guitar while talking about what he had for dinner, and the Raymond Chandler story is two pages long and ends halfway through a sentence with '…fuck it, this is a shitty idea for a story'.

1 comment:

Scratch the hostile fay said...

>It's like J.R.R Tolkien's family. His son in particular seems absolutely hell bent of gathering up, publishing and selling every single word his dad ever scribbled down, from rejected story ideas to old shopping lists.<

You noticed that, too? Would you believe out there there's actually a book with all the christmas cards he drew for his family? While I appreciate the art, they coulda just left it at that, you know.

Anne McCaffrey's son is almost as bad. Yay! Pern dragons. Uhm. Quit riding on mommy's coattails and write your own stuff.

I'm gonna state in my will that anything discovered after my death will remain private. ;)

Although I have to mention that any article written for Cracked magizine is suspect anyway; It's the same publishers as Mad Magizine (you probably knew that).

Weeee,
Scratch