Thursday, August 31, 2006

Writing is Hard: Letting go

In his most recent Newsarama column, Marvel Comics' Editor-in-Chief and artist Joe Quesada said something about the act of creating that got my attention.

When a fan asked him how he stores his comic collection, Joe used the question to seque into another topic: "I have next to nothing of the comics created over my tenure in my collection. I remember an artist once telling me that you will never be able to do your best work until you lose reverence for the work that you do. I found that to be an incredible truth about creation, if you hold it too dear you tend to focus on the tree and not the forest. It's the same with what I do as EIC. While I love the books that we're currently producing and feel that we get better with every issue, I don't hold any of it in reverence or permanence. Spend too much time admiring any accomplishment or holding onto one for too long, don't be surprised if you never have any more."

I've written some stuff that I'm pretty proud of, but I'm green enough that I haven't really been tempted to fall in love with my own work yet. It's an interesting, potential pitfall though that kind of goes along with the concept of "killing your darlings." I can see how getting emotionally attached to your work could cause you to lose the objectivity you need to know when it needs to be better. Something to keep in mind for later.


West said...

Interesting perspective.
I guess that wasn't the place to get TOO deep, but I kinda wish he'd broken that statement down.

As-stated, it seems like the kind of thing that you either intuitively "get" or you don't.

Michael May said...

Yeah, Quesada's pretty good at throwing teasing quotes around to get you either thinking or talking. When I first read this one, I scratched my head, but I eventually saw the potential wisdom in it.

I don't really get his attitude of not keeping copies of his own work, but that may be a reflection on my lack of prolificness. A lot of actors don't watch their own movies either (though, at least in Johnny Depp's case, that could be due to the collaborative aspect of movie-making and not wanting to see what someone else did to your performance).

Man, there's a lot more to think about on this subject than I posted...

West said...

re: "Man, there's a lot more to think about on this subject than I posted..."

I know you're a fan, but I'm surprised you singled-out Depp, in particular.

Michael May said...

Only 'cause I recently heard him mention it in an interview. :)

West said...


Can't say I blame him, really. You do your thing, then it's put in someone else's hands, HOPING that they'll do right by you.

Although, I guess that means you miss the good with the bad... if you don't watch your own movies, I mean.

Maybe he chooses projects based upon different criteria, though.

West said...

Ack. That wasn't clear.

My point was that I'd expect actors to choose the directors they like and dislike based, in-part, on the directors leave on the cutting-room floor.

But that's not the only criterion, of course.

Michael May said...

I think Depp chooses parts based on how much he's able to connect with the character.

It's a pretty cool philosophy for that kind of work, 'cause really that's the only thing he can control. I do think he mentioned that there are certain directors he loves to work with though (like Tim Burton).


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