Late Night Musings on AGENTS OF SHIELD

I’ve been pondering on AGENTS OF SHIELD ever since the follow up episode to THE WINTER SOLDIER.  I think the show is finally finding its footing.  Sad that it had to happen this late in the season leaving its fate in doubt with ABC.  I hope they give it another chance next season, but we’ll have to see.

I still get very frustrated with the show and the writing staff for making the expected, obvious choices, but at least there is some grit, conflict and fire between the people now and that is helping.  It’s been really fun to watch Phil Coulson lose his shit.  Of course one can hardly blame him.  Being dead, getting revived, finding out the organization to which you have dedicated your life is rotten at its core — that’s deserving of a little freak out.

It was clear there had to be a Hydra traitor on The Bus.  I was rather holding out for it being Fitz because of the fact Dr. Zola was running the infiltration of SHIELD.  I thought he might favor the scientific types over mere brawn.  Jemma was right out.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and every emotion is written on her face.  I’m okay with it being Grant.  The character had begun to grow on me when they had him in a sexual relationship with May, but it does seem odd that Hydra put such a premium on brawn over brains.

I also liked the growing jealousy as Fitz watches Jemma defend Agent Trip and senses the attraction there.  The more they drive wedges between people the better this show will be.  The perfect little Scooby Gang was less interesting than this shattered team.

I’d like to think they haven’t answered the question of the identity of The Clairvoyant.  If it really is Garrett than I’m disappointed with the choice.  That was actually one of the things in Turn, Turn, Turn that gave me the giggles.  Coulson’s rather shrill and hysterical — “She’s the Clairvoyant!  No Wait!  He’s the Clairvoyant.”

Another disappointment is Grant’s love interest.  It’s Skye because of course it’s Skye.  It was such an obvious and boring choice, and so help me if he’s “redeemed through the love of good woman” I’m going to hurl.  Even worse would be if he sacrifices himself at the end to “save the woman he loves.”  Redemption stories can be very powerful — witness what George did with Jaime in Song of Ice and Fire, but it needs to happen slowly.  I loved Gardner Dozois’s suggestion that Grant’s secret love was Coulson.  I wanted something to shake up this show.

Despite all this carping I like the show because Marvel has built an entire universe with cross-references that are fun and keep the sense of continuity.

Jonah Nolan said something interesting at dinner a month or so ago.  He pointed out that in many ways the movies are just trailers and set up for the next movie, and I think that’s a valid point.  The Captain America films have felt more cohesive and complete then the Thor films or the Iron Man films for me.  Tony Stark is snark personified and really great, but I don’t feel like they gave me a satisfying story.  I’m partial to the Thor franchise because — Loki — but they’ve left me feeling unsatisfied as well, particularly The Dark World.  Once I realized the first Thor film was about an abusive father creating a deadly sibling rivalry the first film felt stronger, but the theme of the second film has so far eluded me.

Maybe the best way to think of all of these is as multi-million dollar parts of a giant serial.  But god help them if they have to start replacing these actors.  I don’t see how you just swap in a new Iron Man who is Tony Stark or a new Steve Rogers.  It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next.’

And now I want to go back and see The Winter Soldier again.

Okay, that was me just talking out loud using a keyboard.  Now let’s talk some more.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

For the first time in many months I actually drove to a theater and went to see a movie.  CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER.  I had really been looking forward to this film since the first movie is one of my favorite superhero movies ever because of the lovely character moments and it’s thoughtful analysis of war, bravery and why we fight.  I particularly liked the moment where Dr. Erskin is examining the scrawny Steve Rogers and asks in a faintly mocking tone about how he wants to go and “kill Nazis.”  Rogers quiet response — “I don’t want to kill anybody, I just don’t like bullies.” tells me so much about the character and the relationship that develops between the two men.

I was hoping for similar moments in this second film and it didn’t disappoint.  First I have to offer big kudos to the fight choreographer(s) involved with this film.  For the first time I got to actually enjoy the fight sequences to see the punch and counter-punch, the fluid, almost dance-like quality of martial arts.  It was not a sequence of fast and confusing cuts that give you no sense of flow.  There were also some amazing car chases that were exciting rather than trite.  It also helped you had Samuel L. Jackson’s waspish delivery to enliven the action.

 

———SPOILERS————-SPOILERS————-SPOILERS—————-SPOILERS————

 

But what I loved the best about this movie were the quiet personal moments — between Sam and Steve, Steve and his lost love, Steve and Natasha, and the overtly political tone of the movie.

There were a number of what I think of as “grown-up” choices that were made in this film.  The first was not somehow, magically having Steve’s lady from 1940 be miraculously young and waiting for him.  Peggy Carter was an old, dying woman who went on to build a life without him.  I was a little startled at the idea that she was one of the founders of SHIELD, but then decided it made a certain degree of sense given the events in the first film.  His affection for her, his ability to look past the carnage of the years made me like him even more.  She was always going to be  Peggy for him.

The second choice they made that really pleased me was the fact they didn’t force a romance between Steve and Natasha.  He’s heart wounded and not ready for a relationship.  She’s not interested in him.  Instead she keeps trying to help him find a date.  By doing this the writers and directors showed respect for the Capt’s love for Peggy, and they also didn’t define Black Widow by her relationship to men.  Unlike the female elf in the second Hobbit movie who was totally defined by her relationship to men.  It didn’t matter how much ass she kicked — it was all about her relationship to Legolas’s daddy, Legolas, and Hot Dwarf.

There was a nice complexity to the movie as well.  Wheels within wheels that you don’t often find in your basic action movie.  Nick Fury continues to be a complex, very grey and very fascinating character.  It was clear he had staged his death, but that was okay.  It fit the overall tone.  I was also very glad they didn’t have Sam die.  It’s a cheap way to get a reaction from an audience and they didn’t take it.

The scenes at the end between Steve and Bucky/The Winter Soldier again established Rogers essential decency.  Violence is easy, redemption is hard and they came down on the side of redemption.  One other very nice moment was Steve’s little notebook with all the societal memes with which he needs to catch up.  The fact that he wrote them on paper rather then pulling out his phone or IPad was also just another lovely little character touch as were the LP’s and the stereo.  Even the choice of music.  The directors and the writers had given real thought to the story of a man-out-of-time.

Now to the politics.  Just as Person of Interest unwittingly created a show about the surveillance state without realizing they were prescient, this movie embraced the discussion.  When Steve first goes to SHIELD headquarters and we see the courtyard with the big eagle sculpture my first thought was that it had a very Albert Speer, Third Reich feel.  Turned out there was a reason.

Which is actually my one quibble with the movie.  I didn’t need Hydra in this film.  I understand why they did it — a call back to the first film and so Natasha could deliver the line.  “How does it feel to know you died for nothing?”, but I thought that weakened the discussion about surveillance and the curtailment of our liberties in an effort to feel safe or to at least have the illusion we are safe.

I would have been happier if it had just been a schism within SHIELD itself about the proper use of spying and targeted drone strikes, etc.  By making it evil Nazis it felt like the movie let SHIELD and by extension our government off the hook.

We could have ended up in the same place with SHIELD in tatters, Natasha as Snowden, etc. etc., without the addition of Hydra.  I admit I am very anxious to see Tuesday night’s episode of AGENTS OF SHIELD after these events.  I’m also pretty sure we know the identity of the Clairvoyant now after this movie.

The New Cosmos

I had taped the first episode of the new COSMOS with Neil deGrasse Tyson and I got around to watching it last night.  I enjoyed it a great deal, and the production values are breathtaking.  There were several interesting things that I noticed.  One was the use of animation to tell certain historical stories.  In particular the story of the Dominican monk Giordono Bruno.  He wasn’t a scientist, and his rational for believing the universe was infinite was his belief that god was infinite so his creation must also be infinite.  He also postulated that stars were other suns like ours and that there were worlds attached to those suns as well.  It was, one could argue, a mad insight into the universe, but sometimes a productive line of inquiry opens up because of just such a mad insight.  Of course technology in the form of the telescope vindicated and validated old Bruno’s insight.  But not in time to save him from being burned alive by the Inquisition.

So why the animation?  Partly because the producers of this show want children to watch and seeing a man die in hideous agony at the stake is not exactly PG.  I also think they were trying to avoid arousing the ire of religious conservatives.  If so they didn’t succeed.  A number of right wing commentators have found even this softened approach to be offensive and an attack against the church and religion.  That professional bloviator, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League was righteously upset and the article at the Catholic League‘s website even claimed that:

“One of the most enduring myths of the Inquisition,” he says, “is that it was a tool of oppression imposed on unwilling Europeans by a power-hungry Church. Nothing could be more wrong.” Because the Inquisition brought order and justice where there was none, it actually “saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.”

Yeah, I’m sure the Albigensians or the Spanish Jews would agree that they just flourished under the Inquisition’s imposition of order and justice.  There are other apologists who have tried to claim that “Hey, he wasn’t burned because of his theories about the cosmos — he was burned because he was spouting heresy, and that’s totally okay, because it was 1600 and there were laws against that sort of thing.”  Can we maybe just all agree that burning people alive is not okay?  Just like stoning women to death because they got raped is not okay, and imprisoning gay people just because they are gay is not okay, or throwing acid or shooting a young girl for the sin of going to school is not okay, or condemning people to death because they decided to believe in a different version of god are also not okay.   

The point Tyson was making was that when dogma trumps free thought and inquiry our species is in trouble.  We are facing real problems and challenges — climate change, antibiotic resistant diseases, etc.  Instead of raising up a generation of kids who fear and distrust the scientific method maybe we ought to be firing their imaginations and encouraging them to dream big and promulgate hypotheses, find solutions to vexing problems, and never stop questioning and pushing for a deeper understanding of our universe from the tiniest atomic particle or fragment of DNA to the largest galaxy.

Longing For A Game

Let me amend that to say I’m longing for a good game.  Life right now is a bit stressful, and I’d like to have an escape.  I think it’s time for a return to Ferelden and Dragon Age:  Origins.  I used to just load up one of the Mass Effect games and go play in that world and see old friends, but that ending of game 3 really has rather soured me on that franchise.  I may play all three games again knowing I will stop before the end, but I could really use an immersive experience right now.

I put aside Skyrim because I was faced with another unpleasant fight at the end of another pointless dungeon crawl where I would once again kill the monster take the treasure.  Gorgeous graphics only carry me so far.  I’m very much afraid that RPG style games with companions have gone the way of the dinosaurs since they clearly take a lot more work.  I guess I’ll still buy my back up XBox-360 so I can replay the old games I do love.

My last little plea late on a Wednesday night — please don’t let them mess up Dragon Age 3.

Selling

I found myself pondering the art of selling.  How people craft a commercial that will hopefully encourage a viewer to buy a particular product.  My reaction to two very different television commercials made me realize how very fraught this effort must be.  There is a Gevalia commercial that actively makes my teeth hurt, and I swear if Gevalia was the last coffee on Earth I would never buy this product because I find the commercial to be so very, very sexist.  You’ve got a book club that is just finishing reading a loud some novel.  Naturally the group consists of nothing but women.  Suddenly this blond man who looks like Fabio in an expensive suit is sitting on the arm of a sofa reading aloud from the Gevalia package and the women are all gazing at him like love-struck  bovines, gasping, sighing and clapping.  Yes, the guy is really pretty and I have this weakness for blonds, but dear heavens the women are presented as brainless twits.  But somebody at an ad agency clearly thought this was a good idea, and one presumes it tested well.  Well, it failed on me.

Next up this amazing commercial touting GE.  It’s a little girl in this mystical magical world where she’s exploring the depths of the ocean where fans are powered by moonlight, where planes seemed crossed with birds, and where trees wave and bow and run next to a train.  At the end the child concludes that her mother works for GE.  Now of course I can’t run out and buy a jet engine or a train, but this commercial is beautiful and empowering.  I find myself wondering about this woman — is she an engineer?  A scientist?  Does she work on the assembly line?  How will her mother’s career affect this little girl?  What choices will she make?  This commercial has done it’s job.  It has me thinking favorably about GE despite it being a large, faceless corporation.

As I watched these two it had me wondering about micro-targeting.  Our interconnected world gives us the tools to pick shows that will target a particular demographic and push the product to that particular market.

Just silly, random thoughts at nearly ten at night when I’m too tired to focus on real work.

Disposable Clones — And Yes, It’s about Mass Effect

A few weeks ago I found my mind wandering as I ran on the elliptical machine at my gym, and my mind went wandering back to Mass Effect.  In particular I found myself pondering the fate of the clone from the DLC CITADEL.  The writers gave us a pretty ambivalent ending for that particular adventure.  Yes, the clone fell from the cargo bay of the Normandy either by his/her own choice or because of an action by Shepard prime, but this is Shepard so is he/she really dead?  My assumption was no he didn’t die, so what did he do after surviving that fall?  Did he end up fighting the Reaper takeover of the Citadel?  Stow away or highjack another ship and head out?  And if he survived the end of the Reaper war what did he choose to do with his life?  (I”m going to use the male pronoun since I played a male Shepard and that’s how I think of him.)

I did a pretty exhaustive analysis of the Mass Effect DLC CITADEL, and you can find those posts here - Citadel and A Failure in Tone, but there is something about Mass Effect that keeps pulling me back.  An inability to let it go and stop fulminating over the missed opportunity with that game.  Since I am currently slogging along in SKYRIM, the contrast with Mass Effect and Dragon Age:  Origins is profound, and I once again found myself ruminating about Shepard and his Scooby gang.

Once again I felt that Citadel was another missed opportunity.  I didn’t mind the whole “evil clone” plot.  God knows it’s a classic science fiction trope, but what struck me as I thought about Citadel was how the issue of clones has been explored in far more interesting and thoughtful ways in science fiction literature.  Lois McMasters Bujould does a particularly fine job in her Miles Vorkosigan series.

It seemed like the entire clone plot was written purely as a lark and that the writers seemed to have lost all memory or knowledge of their universe, and the motivations of the various characters.  Shepard’s in particular.  Which ever origin you picked they were exemplified by loss, abandonment, catastrophe and struggle.  His character was forged in adversity.

But let’s start with The Illusive Man.  Cerberus had the technology to literally bring someone back from the dead, and keep an exact replica in case something happened to the new improved Shepard.  Now I understand that TIM was indoctrinated by the Reaper tech he had been putting in his body to extend his life, but TIM was no fool.  It struck me that TIM would have used this technology to create a clone of himself, and let that version become indoctrinated.  TIM knew the power of the Reapers, and the dangers of indoctrination.  He had Miranda’s daddy researching the phenomenon.  It strains credulity to believe he would have taken this risk if he had an alternative, and clearly he did.  How much better to let the clone take all the risk and TIM observe the outcome.

The greater violation was the pre-ordained outcome between Shepard and his clone.  Having a renegade option makes sense — kill the bastard, but the paragon choice should not have had the exact same end — the Clone taking a swan dive off the Normandy.  It would have been more interesting to offer an alternative where the clone remains and isn’t just shuffled off stage for the convenience of the writers.  In every Shepard origin you have a character who has suffered loss and loneliness.  Colonist — your colony gets wiped out, Earther — you’re an orphan who grew up in the streets and found a “family” in the Alliance.  Even the spacer origin (the one I selected) you have a child raised by a single mother, constantly moving, often in the care of others as Captain Hannah built her career.  And in every origin there is no mention of siblings.

Now you are faced with virtually a twin brother or sister.  I have to think that a possible outcome is a desperate desire to have that relationship with this twin.  One of the underlying themes of the game is forging family as exemplified by the crew of the Normandy.  Shouldn’t there have been an option to bring this genetic copy into the embrace of that family?  There should have been an option to have had the clone taken into custody.  To later learn that this second Shepard helped coordinate the defense and battle for the Citadel.  I mean, this is Shepard.

It would also offer BioWare and EA a way around the intractable problem that most fans when polled want a sequel to the three games, and that many players want to play their Shepard.  I know I feel that way.  We put in a lot of hours of thought and care into the games, and I’m betting most players did more than a bit of headcanon.  I know I did.  Granted I’m a crazy writer, but judging from the amount of fan fiction that has been generated so did a lot of other people.

The writers and producers wanted Citadel to be fun which as I’ve detailed in other posts utterly undercut the tension and what was at stake in the main game.  Which is why it probably should have been a concluding adventure to the game rather than being shoehorned into the main narrative.  Unfortunately the bad endings made that rather impossible.

In terms of story telling and thinking through the ramification I think the writers were too quick to dismiss a plot that they considered silly.  Evil clones how silly is that?  But most of Mass Effect is a rehash of hoary old science fiction tropes that we all love and enjoy even if they are cliched.  For the most part these tropes were handled very well.  I just wish they had done as well by this story.

 

 

Mean Girls And Bully Boys

I admit I’m a political junkie so this developing story in New Jersey about the bridge and the Sandy relief money has had me fascinated.  I watched a lot of Governor Chris Christie’s press conference where he tried to put the bridge scandal behind him, but as I was watching I spotted the moment when Christy took that one step too far and probably wrecked his chances to escape unscathed.  It happened when he was talking about David Wildstein, the man who had implemented the command “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee”.  In answer to a question about his relationship with Wildstein going back to high school the governor preceded to distance himself by saying they weren’t that close.  But he didn’t just leave it there.  He talked about how he (Christy) had been a star athlete and class president, and he had no idea what Wildstein was up to.  Now I’m a proud nerd.  I wasn’t popular in high school.  I was in the chess club for heaven’s sake, so I understood the message Christy was sending loud and clear.  ”Oh that guy?  What a total dweeb.  He was a real loser.  Not like me.”  I literally gasped and fell back in my chair because I knew that in that moment Christy had turned a former ally into an implacable enemy.

I know that American’s are often viewed as naive and provincial, maybe not as sophisticated as other nations, but there is one thing we do quite well.  We recognize and really, really don’t like — bullies and mean girls.  After the initial excitement over Sarah Palin I watched her approval rating among independent women begin to drop.  Because we all recognized what she was.  She was the quintessential mean girl many of us had endured in junior high and high school.  Christie in that press conference became the guy who would give the class nerd a wedgie.  Well it’s Wildstein who’s delivering the wedgie now with his destructive drip drip drip of information released through his lawyer.

And then Christie or his people (if it was his people he needs new people) released that silly email Christie Email about how Wildstein upset his social studies teacher back in high school, and couldn’t be trusted.  Which just begged the question — they why did you create a job for him at the Port Authority and praise him so profusely when he resigned?  You never, ever punch down, and this email had people wondering if the governor or his staff were starting to come unwrapped.

The entire situation has me once again repeating the old adage I learned in Hollywood.  Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.

Musical Musings

I’ve been driving madly toward the end of the latest Linnet Ellery book so I haven’t had a lot of time to write up posts.  I’ve had a couple in mind and here’s one of them.

When I bought the sports car it came with satellite radio.  I figured I’d used it until the free offer ran out and then not bother to renew, but the bastards got me hooked.  I love On Broadway and Pops and Symphony Hall.  I can also listen to news if I’m so inclined.  There’s a lot to choose from, and it will certainly help pass the empty miles between New Mexico and California and save me from religious radio broadcasts.

All of this is a long wind up to explain that while I listen to On Broadway I hear a lot of familiar show tunes but also some that are new to me.  I can also really focus on the words, and several things came clear.  Boy, have mores changed in the past sixty or so years, and damn, Cole Porter was a brilliantly raunchy composer.

Let’s start with what was acceptable to put in song lyrics back in 1937 when Babes in Arms hit broadway.  One of the numbers from the show is called I Wish I Were In Love Again.  It’s a duet between a man and woman, and as I was driving along this little gem of a verse sung by the woman came floating out of the speaker.

 

The furtive sigh, the blackened eye

The words, “I love you till the day I die”

The self deception that believes the lie

I wish I were in love again.

Yike, domestic abuse enshrined in a love song.  You also find it in Carousel a musical with wonderful music where we’re supposed to feel sorry when a wife beater dies.  Not one of my favorite shows.  That doesn’t mean I think the show should be banned or some other nonsense.  I just find it disturbing so it’s not a show I’m going to line up to see.  I understand that attitudes change, but trying to pretend those attitudes never existed is also foolish.  Just like I don’t want Huck Finn rewritten to remove the N word I don’t want to ban musicals from another era.  And Twain’s contempt for racism is powerfully presented, and makes the point far better then a hundred pious sermons.

Next up Cole Porter.  One of my favorite composers.  He was a genius writing not only the music but the lyrics for his shows.  He wrote some amazingly clever love songs, and his lyrics were often sexy as hell.  Take at look at Too Darn Hot from Kiss Me Kate.  I’ve just grabbed the bridge from the song and one verse, but the sexuality just simmers in every line.

According to the Kinsey report

ev’ry average man you know

much prefers to play his favorite sport

when the temperature is low

but when the thermometer goes way up

and the weather is sizzling hot

Mister Adam for his madam is not

cause it’s too too

it’s too darn hot, it’s too darn hot

It’s too too too too darn hot

 

I’d like to call on my baby tonight

and give my all to my baby tonight

I’d like to call on my baby tonight

and give my all to my baby tonight

but I can’t play ball with my baby tonight

cause it’s too darn hot

it’s too darn hot.

And of course there’s the song Let’s Do It written in 1928.  The use of a rest after “Let’s do it (pause Let’s fall in love gives the listener’s mind plenty of time to go right where Porter wanted it to go.  It’s a proposition song pure and simple, but with bitingly clever lyrics.  Apparently there was a verse in the original ’28 version that was terribly racist and has been revised.  Which brings us full circle back to my shock over the line in I Wish I Were In Love Again.

And finally from Anything Goes the song Let’s Misbehave.  Here are the opening two stanzas.

You should have a great career,

Yes you should;

And you could;

Only one thing stops you dear:

You’re too good;

Far too good!

 

If you want a future, darlin’,

Why don’t you get a past?

For that fatal moment’s comin’ at last…

We’re all alone, no chaperone

Can get our number

The world’s in slumber

Let’s misbehave!!!

 

I didn’t really have a profound point about all of this.  I just thought it was fun to see that sex didn’t get invented during the free love era of nineteen sixties.  Our grandparents and great-grandparents were passionate people too.  They probably even made love.  :)

Saddened and Shaken

No this isn’t about martinis and disappointment when they’re stirred rather than shaken.  Today we are celebrating MLK (Martin Luther King) Day here in the United States.  This morning I was indulging in my morning ritual of reading through various news sites before I got into the days work.  There were a number of terrific articles about the slain civil rights leader, and reprints of a number of his speeches.  And every article was followed with a deluge of the most grotesque, hateful and openly raciest comments I’ve ever seen.  Perhaps it is just the anonymity of the net that allows this to happen, but the fact there are people out there who are willing to publicly make these statements about this man in particular and African-Americans in general has me once more in despair.

Is it ever going to get better?  Are we ever going to face, acknowledge and deal with America’s original sin?

Strive — At Least a Little

A friend of mine and a terrific writer just landed a job with a miniatures gaming company as their head writer.  Up until now they have been using folks in the gaming community who fancied themselves writers, but hadn’t really put in the blood and sweat like my buddy.  My friend attended Viable Paradise and Taos Tool Box.  He’s written several novels and lots and lots of short stories.  He has a tool box that’s pretty well stocked with the tools of our peculiar trade.

And now he’s in charge of these other writers.  He’s insisting that the staff plot out the campaigns and the stories, and he’s been getting pushback.  He’s been telling me about the various objections he’s received, and he got one a few days ago that left me a bit breathless and gobsmacked.  It goes like this.

“We’re writing for gamers, and they have no taste, and wouldn’t know good writing from bad, and it will just confuse them if we have plot and character arcs and consistency so it’s not worth doing.”  In other words they’ll eat any crap we shovel out with a spoon and not know the difference.

My friend gently (actually I don’t know if it was gentle or not) anyway, he pointed out that maybe this writer ought to strive to write something that wasn’t crap for his own sense of pride and to honor the art.  Apparently it went right over the guy’s head.

A couple of reasons for this attitude occurred to me.  One is simple laziness.  It’s hard to plot and make sure the structure works, and this was an excuse not to put in the work.  The other is a sense of low expectations about the readership which is always death for a writer.  Readers will know if you are insincere or mocking them.  And why write if you despise readers this much?  It could also be a lack of trust in your own abilities.  If that’s the case then get some training, join a writer’s group, do something to improve.

There’s a corollary to this too.  There’s a growing trend in writing to never rewrite.  Send out your first draft and move on to the next project immediately because it’s all about pushing “product”.  Very few of us are the literary equivalent of Mozart who in the words of Salieri in the movie Amadeus, “…He had simply written down music already finished in his head. Page after page of it as if he were just taking dictation. And music, finished as no music is ever finished….”  99.,9% of us can’t do that.  We have to rework, to ponder a phrase, make sure the character motivations are correct, to plot.  Yes, I treat my writing  as a job in that I make myself work each day and meet my deadlines, but that doesn’t mean I can’t strive to maybe, actually, create… well — art.

One of Daniel Abraham‘s Clarion instructors urged his students to strive for greatness.  I think that should be foremost in all our minds whether we’re doing work for hire, or gaming fiction, or media tie ins or our own deeply personal book.  Because if we don’t strive for greatness on everything we write then the chance to write that deeply personal novel that will illuminate the human condition and touch and move people on the deepest levels will always elude us.

DailyQuote

I suspect that religion was some random by-product of mammalian reproduction… a necessary evil in the childhood of our species… but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn’t killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity? — Arthur C. Clarke (1917 – 2008)

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