Happy New Year! Now that we’re staring down a fresh slate, how about a fresh outlook on the creative process?
No matter the media, it’s easy to be a super fan. Making the transition from fan to writer isn’t easy though. It is too easy to try to emulate what you love rather than embracing what makes them great. This, at the core, is the reason the ‘hipster’ mentality is so destructive.
When you make the leap to a creator of worlds you need to put on your critic hat. Eyeing your favorite work in a casual eye isn’t just a missed opportunity. It’s dangerous.
The key problem is emulation. Finding inspiration from a specific author is fine. I would even say it’s expected. Though I believe, it is important to understanding of why you like someone’s work.
Any fan can praise, but it takes a writer to understand why the work is appealing in your eyes. The proverbial ‘hipster’ in us will blindly defend something near and dear to our hearts without understanding why it is near and dear to us.
This is usually fine, but if something is influencing the way you deliver your writing to people, this is a study worth pursuing.
I’m sure everyone has heard the term ‘doesn’t age well’. This isn’t exactly the same thing. Something could age very well, but be difficult to receive because the times have changed– or more specifically the general outlook of the populace has changed.
When something ‘retro’ comes back, be it a book, a movie, a T.V. show, or any sort of media, it runs the risk of being out of touch. Very few things are ‘timeless’, but those that are manage to impress someone that hasn’t been programmed to react to something.
Media aimed for children has a better chance to be timeless. Not stuff like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but instead things like Sesame Street. Instead of catering to a style, it caters to a purpose.
In terms of books, I have fond memories of reading poems by Shel Silverstein. Similarly, I have fond memories of Dr. Seuss (who didn’t). I can pick up those books to this day and still enjoy them. The reason is simple, both men had a vision of what they wanted their reader to take from the book. Life lessons, simple tidbits of wisdom that touched the reader. These books weren’t good because they were classic. They were good because they were good.
It’s tough to capture that spirit, bottle it, and pour it into a new creative work. I often meet peers aiming to revive the ‘good ol’ days’ of fantasy. The last dozen people I’ve talked with in regards to the Lord of the Rings talked about how hard it is to read the Fellowship of the Ring. In my eyes, the real way to respect the author that inspired you is to study their work and identify what you love about their work. From there, the mission is to craft a tale that dares to invoke the same sensations in others.
This isn’t a matter of things not aging well, or ‘liking things before they were cool’. It’s about sharing dreams.
Here’s to hoping for a great 2015!