Stranger in a Strange Land

It's a fair bet most of your writer friends aren't your real-world friends. They're online. The internet has been a terrific tool for us to gather and discuss and be. You may have been trapped previously with those that said they wanted to write, but whose offerings amounted to nothing more than literary masturbation, taking their favorite D&D characters and expostulating their awesomeness in prose. (If you were lucky, it would at least be good prose. But how often are we that lucky?)

Now, we can find people with similar interests and similar talent to share our ideas and our fears. We can push one another to do better and help each other to succeed. This is all great. Thank you Internet for your participation in our growth as writers.

But at the end of the day, we're still writers in our own world. We do other things like read books and watch movies with friends who may have little to no writing talent or interest in exploring the craft. But they still have opinions. Everyone has opinions. And they share them. They share them with you.

I'll see a movie and someone will say how much they liked it and I pray that they don't ask me what I thought. Or, if they're going to ask me that question, they do so before they offer their own opinion so they can see quickly that I'm not just going to say I liked something because a bus blew up or some thing. I do not have a switch. I cannot turn off being a writer. I can dial it down. I can take it from an 11 to about an 8 or so, but in the end, the writing is important to me. Transformers 2: Rise of the Fallen is utter rubbish. I don't care if the point of the movie was to have big robots fight and blow shit up. You can make a movie with big robots fighting blowing shit up and still write it in such a fashion that when you walk into a building in Washington, you don't exit into an African desert!

I'm told I'm too negative. I don't think I'm negative. I think I'm critical. I challenge the art I am interested in to be the best it can be. My measure for that quality is based on my own understanding of writing, which, compared to the rest of my friends, is much higher (immodest or not, it's the truth and most of them would admit to that).

I did a podcast interview with Scott Wegener, the artist for Atomic Robo. This best explained what it's like being a creative person. When he looks at something, the first thing he looks at is the visual aspect. He's a comic book artist. He draws for a living. The visuals are important. Likewise, the first thing I look at is the writing. I can give a pass to average visuals because that's now what I do.

It can feel very isolating in those discussions, especially in a larger group, when people are giving a thumbs up and thumbs down based solely on a visceral reaction to the spectacle of the movie, and all you want to do is grab a red pen and mark up all the holes that to you seemed so glaring.

Don't worry. You're not alone. Your people, they're here on the internets.