Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to "Who Owns the Story"

The topic isn't finished and never will be. Just read an article on the deviantart website, which raised the topic again.

Some of the comments triggered what you might call a 'desire for a public response', and here it is.

The comments:

"In the modern day, where interaction on a global level happens in seconds, involving the audience while a work is in progress seems to be the best way to ensure success, so long as the writer makes an effort to consider all of the feedback they get, in addition to considering what story they intend to tell themselves."

and

"People who create to be consumed would care about pleasing the audience, people who are consumed by their creation quite frankly care only to please themselves."

and

"Writers have editors, but who says the editors can't be the audiences themselves? If I were writing a story mostly for my own enjoyment, then I have no obligations to please the audience. However, if I am creating something with the main purpose of marketing to the masses, then my work should reasonably meet their expectations, and the best way to do that would be to listen to their opinions."

I am very passionate about storytelling: as an activity (I am addicted to it like a smoker to his cigaret, and one of the reasons why I haven't blogged recently is that I'm about to finish the first draft of a 100k-word novel; always a delicate time); as a tradition that has been instrumental in shaping human civilization, culture and the very structure of the human mind; and as an art-form (yeah, I know, I hate the much-abused word 'art' myself, but I can't find a better term right now).

What I want to add to what I already said here is this:

I have no respect for people who prostitute themselves for the sake of 'success'. I refuse to become one of them. If it means that I shall not have 'success', so be it. At least I still have my integrity and my pride.

I've been taken to task about this by people I know and who thought they were making helpful suggestions about how to further my 'career' as a writer or film-maker. Some of these people are close to me and really wanted to help me with this, because they know how I feel about storytelling—and how much I would have loved to make this into my main source of income, rather than working in paid employment jobs that, at best, I endure (and happen good at!), but get no real pleasure or satisfaction out of. I'd rather be at home and write, and maybe learn the difficult skill of visual storytelling as well (I admire 'pictorial' storytellers!) or make movies. Or something along those lines.

It's a choice, I know, and I'll never end up economically secure by telling stories through whatever medium happens to come along. That's a tough one to learn to live with, but these days—or is it just making a grim reality into a virtuous one?—I wear it with pride, and I can live with that. I'm not sure I could have lived with the alternative, knowing deep down that I did prostitute myself; that my stories were fabricated from recipes imposed by the requirements of success, industry, public demand, etc. With my skills, mind you; but still, if the stories and characters don't come from the heart and yourself—if you're not, as that one commentator cited above wrote, you weren't "consumed by [your] creation"—then what's the bloody point? You'd be just another flunky-for-hire by people who, despite their PR-department designed public pronouncements, don't give a shit about the story, but just want to make money.

Yeah, I know. You gotta be realistic.

But you also have to make choices.

And consider this: no good story has ever come out of a fucking committee. The ones that really grab us are almost universally created by sole individuals, who had it somewhere inside them and needed to get it out.

Yes, the energy ultimately has to flow from the creator to an audience, but for it to even qualify as truly 'interesting' it needs something that no 'public feedback' can ever provide. For the public is about the worst and most destructive and unproductive 'committee' you can possibly get. And exactly because of that, and since they are also the ultimate recipients of your story, you actually owe it to them not to allow them to force you into creating shit; and instead to remain (here's another overused word, but I use it with the greatest respect) 'authentic'. Remain yourself. And maybe—is this heresy right now and in the current climate?—not listen to what they are saying say.

But let me tell you: sometimes prostitution looks like a very, very tempting alternative. There's this sneaky voice that whispers sweet rationalizations about why it really isn't prostitution and how you can make this work in your favor. And I know all the arguments for and against. And ultimately it always comes down to the Absurdist's favorite word:

Choice.

Sometimes I hate choice.

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