Archive for July 19th, 2009

Hacks and Artistes

Word count: 16526 | Since last entry: 2425

1500 words today at Camille Alexa’s, including the dramatic climax. Just one more scene to go. The story will probably come in at about 17,000 words, and will require much hacking and slashing to get down to the target 10,000 (or so) words.

After that, set up the grill and grilled corn on the cob (first of the season) and a nice spice-rubbed pork tenderloin. Oh yum.

Talking with folks at Camille’s I realized I’d never posted my theory of “hacks and artistes.” You may be familiar with the idea that every other driver on the road is either an idiot or an asshole: the idiots are the ones who are going slower than you, and the assholes are the ones who are going faster. Well, in writing it’s similar: every other writer is either a hack (someone you look down upon because their writing is more commercial than yours) or an artiste (someone you look down upon because their writing is artier than yours). Probably the same is true of many other art forms.

But this theory has a sting in the tail, to wit: in driving, by definition, one is never an idiot or an asshole oneself. But in writing, the concepts of “hack” and “artiste” are relative to one’s aspirations rather than one’s actual current performance. Which means that you can look at your own work and brand yourself as a hack or an artiste. Possibly both at once; writers can be very creative when it comes to self-denigration.

We saw Moon yesterday. I liked it a lot — it’s a serious science fiction film, heavy on the moral and intellectual problems and light on the thud-and-blunder. I had a few quibbles with some of the science, tech, and plot logic, but in every case I have to admit that the things they did “wrong” were the right things to do to bring the film in under budget and/or make it more accessible to a general audience. (One spoiler-free example: the characters bounce around like people in 1/6 gee only outside the lunar base. Simulating low-gee inside the base would have been difficult, expensive, and probably giggle-inducing, but on the lunar surface it’s familiar from the Apollo footage everyone’s seen.) Highly recommended.

Also seen recently: Duck Soup, outdoors on the roof of the Hotel deLuxe’s garage. I may never have seen the whole thing in one sitting before. Tons of laughs even for a 75-year-old film where I knew most of the jokes already. But the complete chaos, especially of Harpo, was a surprise. I had expected it to be a little more, oh I don’t know, coherent? Still, marvelous entertainment.