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Writing seminars are common. They’ll teach you how to spice up your characters, plot, setting, and dialogue. They’ll inform you of the many reasons you should run screaming when you see a Mary Sue. They’ll let you know what’s good, what’s bad, and that everything your sixth-grade English teacher said about “said” was a lie. In short, these seminars give you tips on how to get famous, even though most of the people who attend them never do.

But what do you do when you get famous? Is there a seminar for that? Probably not, but there should be. And attendance should be required as soon as you hit the New York Times Bestsellers list. It’d be a little like the Health Class of writing- extremely important information that you need to know and use in the real world, but that nobody at all wants to talk about. Diseases up for discussions would include Telling Your Fans What To Think, Forgetting That If It Weren’t For Your Fans Nobody Would Know Your Name, Writing Unneeded Sequels, and Thinking That You’re So Perfect You Don’t Have To Try Anymore, among others. “Preventable!” the teacher would cry. “Don’t start! You’ll never stop!” And the writers would laugh and say, Oh no, not me, I won’t do that! And then many of them would promptly go out into the world and do it- but maybe not as many as do now.

As that cheesy video about sexual harassment is the focal point of middle school health, there would be a clear focal point in this course- Movie Adaptations. Ah, that scrounge of fantasy fans. We all know that most authors fall to temptation- and for every Madeleine L’Engle who will proudly admit to the horridness of their movie, there are many who pretend to love the screen adaptation of their precious baby. Teachers would instruct the class on How To Not Let It Happen To You, reminding you that the only sure way to prevent it is to never sign off the rights to your masterpiece, never let your characters appear on the big screen. They’d show of video of authors, their faces in shadows, talking about how awful it is to have your story’s plot disappear or your favorite character show up on-screen wearing out-of-character makeup and a pink hoody.

Seriously, how hard can it be to teach them this? Not very. I could do it, given the time and the video. No one, of course, would try. You simply can’t tell an adult how to live their life. You can’t force someone to read a self-help book or attend a seminar. Not even if they’re a divorced suburbanite going through a midlife crises, certainly not if they’re a successful author who’s proud, dazed, and on top of the world. A bad idea, of course. Stream-of-consciousness rambling, of course. But oh, how much pain we little people would be spared.

We are the fans, are we are the ones who are hurts by those easily preventable diseases, not the authors themselves. We are the ones who cry tears of pain when our movies are released, for we are wasting our money to see the books we have crawled all over with microscopes destroyed, not receiving millions to hand over our books. And there lies our greatest mistake- we love them too much. We trust our authors not to contract any of those diseases, because we love them. But then they do, and we are hurt. We trust that our movies will we wonderful- who could possibly screw up such as wonderful storyline? They manage it, and we are hurt. And yet we love them enough to try again. We Potterheads will, I’m sure, try seven times, and each time we will be hurt. For we love too much, too easily, far too deeply. We are fandom. That is what we do. 

"The Golden Compass" will hit theaters soon, and I pity Philip Pullman’s fans. I’ve met a few of them and they’re ridiculously excited. It’s not the smile-and-roll-my-eyes-here-we-go-again-at-least-I-can-squee-about-blank attitude you get from HP fans, but something more akin to “OMG, they’re making a movie!” I’m sure not all fans are like that, but these were and it was actually sad in a way. Those two girls are going to be let down. Yes, it may very well be a good flick, but it will not be Pullman on screen, and many fans will unconsciously wish for that. 

As for me, I’ll be in the theater, staring at the sparkly special effects, too jaded to get mad if they assassinate Lyra’s character. I’ve done it all before. I should have been jaded back then, too, but I had high hopes.

Oddly, even though my fandom has two more movies to go, I feel like we’re passing something on to the His Dark Materials fans. A Hollywood torch, so to speak. A burden that is now theirs, a burden of canonical destruction that we no longer have to bear. Cruel, but there you have it. I don’t want this torch, because I will never win this race. And yet- His Dark Materials will pass it on to Twilight and well, Diane Duane’s talking about making a Young Wizards movie and I will absolutely die because seeing a commercial for some urban fantasy Disney Channel show was bad enough, kthx, and they will kill the complexities of Dairine on the big screen, and I’m going to have this Hollywood torch back again a lot sooner than I want it.

Yeah, done rambling now. I guess I just, um, felt like angsting about how much Hollywood sucks. :D


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 12th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
While I can see some of your points, bear this in mind: when it comes to screen adaptation, there aren't a lot of novelists who (a) are also screenwriters with many years of experience and (b) are prepared not to allow a production company to acquire their work unless the writer also (b1) occupies an executive-producer position, with the clout and control associated with same, and (b2) is the screenwriter of record with control over rewrites.

...So we'll see what happens. But in any case, nothing happens with this until the writers' strike is settled. Not at all for my sake, but for everyone else's, pray that happens quickly.
Nov. 16th, 2007 03:02 am (UTC)
Oh boy. I'm going to just crawl out from under my rock and respond now...

I'm sorry, but I wasn't expecting that. I'm a relatively new Young Wizards fan and I haven't done my homework at all, apart from wandering around a few fan sites and communities. I had no idea you were a screenwriter (which does take away some of my worries about a movie adaptation of Young Wizards, though mostly I'm just embarrassed right now). And I have spent a lot of time in the Harry Potter fandom, which has, I guess, given me the impression that an author is someone who is halfway across the world and whom I can rant about about without having to worry they'll discover it. So in short, please, please feel free to absolutely disregard this post.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )