Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Mean Book

While talking with Rory (one of my favorite things to do, aka, yammering) he pointed out that I had the makings of a mean book. I don't mean a great American novel (yuck! Who wants to write one of those?) but an actually mean book. As we all know I'm terribly mean and this book is right up my alley. On the other hand, I'm worried that someone might pick up this very mean book and get their feelings hurt.

I worked (if you could call it work) briefly (over a few months) on a movie to remain nameless for now. I think if I were to write about my experiences on the movie I'd change the names of everyone and everything, maybe even the names of common objects like shoes (I can call them smeerps! Oh wait, those are rabbits,) to avoid trodding on toes. I doubt there would be legal issues. That's not what I'm concerned about.

The fact is that I genuinely like the people who I worked on the project with, and I'd hang my head in shame if I learned anyone shed a tear or blushed with embarrassment or anger as a result of my work. So, let's think about this.

Honestly, the likelihood that one of the folks, much less a number of folks, who worked on the project would pick up a copy of this book (assuming it even gets published, a large suppose) is miniscule.

On the other hand, I'd be promoting my book in the same vicinity as these people. We live in the same town, and some of us attend the same events promoting our stuff. Eek.

Maybe they'd consider it mutual promotion if my 'secret' was outed.

Maybe they'd chase after me with pitchforks. Kill the monster, kill, kill!

I've found that in writing people fail to recognize themselves on the page. Unless you keep the names the same and jump up and down yelling "This is you!" and maybe not even then, people will laugh at themselves and never see themselves right there in front of their own faces mirrored in print. There's even more weasel room because a lot of times they'll just write off what you've written about them as your own flawed perception (which it is) and think nothing of it.

On the other hand, I sensed a lot of fragile ego hiding behind facades of particularly bold bravado. If anyone is unable to take the heat, it'd be these people. Why they're getting involved in the film biz, I dunno, but there they are. I guess it's possible that they'd make it, seeing as others who are much more quirky than they are have, but it's a tough business and the critics can be cruel. Often and sadly accurate but still cruel. Maybe I'd be contributing to that cruelty, or maybe I'd simply be a grain of sand on a much bigger beach--nothing worth noticing on the grand scheme of things. I think I'd be a purple grain of sand. Or maybe blue. Definitely not green.

This could be a really fun thing to do. Hey, maybe by the time I finish writing, editing, marketing it, sell it, and get it into print, everyone including me will be dead. Then the wide world can enjoy it as it is and there will be no rocks thrown through my window. Besides, in all seriousness, I don't think I'm really mean, cruel and heartless. I can be snippy and I can laugh at the expense of others, but I'm not a comedian out to rake her family over the coals to get a chuckle and a few bucks. I almost always give folks the benefit of the doubt, and treat them with as much respect as I have the foresight to grant them (which, in my limited wisdom, I don't always give enough.) I'm passionate about this idea. (Can you tell?) And I'm not planning to make my living in the business, so any bridges that I burn will be bridges I didn't plan on crossing in the first place. But I don't like the idea of writing on a subject hiding behind a shield of 'I never liked all y'all anyway so screw you.' I'd like to think that the principles could read it and enjoy it like anyone else, maybe more, because they were there and they remember.

It seems doubtful, though, that they'd enjoy much of it because so much of the material is rooted in how ridiculous and stupid some of the process turned out to be. I mean appalling. Some days I hope I'll see it in a local theater (I trust one of my insiders can give me a heads up for how many whiskeys are advised prior to viewing) and other days I think that maybe it would be better for everyone if it died in post. Like a first novel, a first feature-length movie that was written, directed, produced and acted by shiny, brand new people will be what it will be. It's a learning experience. I want to put that learning experience on the page, as a warning and inspiration to others.

Besides, sometimes it's fun to exercise my mean dog self. She lays around so much, she really needs a long walk once in a while.


Mark Jones said...

Hey, you're not snippy, my wife is snippy (tm).

As for the book--I say, write it! Sounds like a hoot. And...first movies can lead to surprising things (Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell have gone on to do a lot of other things after they filmed Evil Dead on a shoestring way back when.)

Kami said...

First novels can be really excellent too. I'm not counting them out yet. Sometimes I'm even hopefully it'll be a fun ride. But then I think about it and ... yeah. We'll see. Maybe they will in fact fix it in post. That would be fab.