I didn’t really mean to take the full weekend off from posting. I could try and pass off my lack of any post as focus on the novel I’m writing, but the truth is I played full-on hookey. Saturday my son and I scratched the nerd itch with a trip to the comics store for Free Comic Book Day and followed that up with Iron Man 3. The rest of the time I’ve been puttering around the house (also known as finding new ways to cook with bourbon) and reading NOS4A2 so posting didn’t really happen. Still, I’m getting this in before a week’s elapsed since my previous post so that’s kind of a win, right?
First off, I’m thrilled the indie comic store we shop at was a mob scene when we went there. The store is a tinderbox filled with boxes of back issues, and it was impossible to move through it and browse comfortably. This is awesome because, as this is a tiny store selling comics, I constantly fear it’s going to go out of business. This is the store where I used to shop when I was a kid, and setting my son loose there is just kind the thing dad’s imagine being able to do. It’s sort of the pasty white introvert equivalent of having a catch with your kid. I want this place to be around long enough for him to bike there by himself when he gets out of school, so seeing it overrun with shoppers was awesome. We did our tiny part, too, picking up the newest Adventure Time comic, setting aside some TMNT‘s he wanted to look at when the store wasn’t a scrum, and ordering the hardbacks of Royden Lepp’s Rust so O can begin reading one of the best graphic novels currently running.
Next, seeing Iron Man 3 was just as fun as we expected, even if it strained credulity to the breaking point more than once. I’m not going to nitpick it, because although there were portions of the story that didn’t fit perfectly together, it accomplished everything it set out to do. Films like The Master and Lincoln attempt to advance cinema as an art form, while movies like Iron Man 3 and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol seek only to entertain. When they can do so without speaking down to their audience the way Michael Bay often does I am more than happy to pass over my money for a ticket.
Tonight on Twitter I saw a reference to a quote from C.C. Finlay I’m going to stick above my computer while writing this next week:
A novel doesn’t excite readers because you took all the bad stuff out of it, it excites them because of all the good stuff that’s in it, regardless of the bad.
I think that’s a sentiment Shane Black had when writing and filming the “Barrel of Monkeys” rescue scene in Iron Man 3. I’m sure it’s a sentiment Brad Bird had when he hung Tom Cruise off the side of the Burj Khalifa tower. And I’m positive it’s a firm belief of Joe Hill, who’s killing it with his new book (which I’ll review in full when I finish it, I’m just savoring it at the moment). So I’m going to stare at it when I look up from typing and try to think what to write next.
Editing and revising is important, obviously. We’ve developed to a point where we need to find patterns and cohesion. Randomness and loose ends make us itchy. When storytellers throw cohesion out readers revile them. But cohesion is not perfection, so where I need to make choices is in deciding what needs to be explained and what I can trust readers to figure out for themselves. But something in there is going to get someone’s hackles up. Even what seems like a good idea, like erring on the side of caution and explaining everything, gets annoying to readers (I just need to see the patient sent home from the hospital, I don’t need to know what forms he had to sign to get out). It’s a difficult line to walk, but I’m going to have to trust readers will get what I’m saying and enjoy the good parts more than they’re annoyed by the inevitable bad parts. Ultimately, I only have so much control over how my story is received once I put it out there, so I can either worry what nits readers will pick at, or I can knock their socks off and hope they’re too entertained to sweat the details. Frankly it’s more fun piling on the good stuff.