Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

Wednesday, steeling myself to face my Ideal Reader

You know, I was thinking about something: in On Writing, Stephen King says that we're each writing for an Ideal Reader. His is his wife, and at certain points in a draft, he'll think to himself, "Oh, she's really going to like this." I can't believe I didn't stop and ask myself this before, given that this isn't even the first time I'd read the book, but who, exactly, is my ideal reader? And upon asking myself this, I stopped cold and realized that I don't have one. Don't I? It didn't make sense, because I knew exactly what he was talking about, and yet I couldn't think of any one person I thought of while writing. I wonder what my mother will think sometimes--in a good way--but not often enough for her to really be the ideal reader.

"Do you think your writing is too intellectual?" she asked me today at lunch, while we were discussing the Ideal Reader. "Actually, no," I replied--very quickly, in fact. "Because I go out of my way to make sure it's not. I mean, it can be when I want it to, but when I workshopped Black Ribbon at school, everyone was like, 'Holy shit, things actually happen in this!' It was actually less intellectual than a lot of the things people brought, because I was more concerned about making it entertaining for the reader." And by "less intellectual," I guess I meant "less likely to fall into navel-gazing, or to be obscure for its own sake." I do think you can be intellectual and entertaining, and I hope I am, but I think the definition of "too intellectual" involves a lot of masturbatory erudition. The key may be to assuming that your reader wants to be entertained but is also just as smart as you. If your writing is Too Intellectual, you may be more concerned with impressing people with how smart you are.

Anyway, what I was telling her during this discussion is that I think I've figured out who my Ideal Reader is, and... it's me. And that's kind of horrible, because how self-centered is that? I mean, you're supposed to write for yourself first and foremost (because why else are you doing it? It's not like the dental plan is very good), but you're not supposed to write for yourself second, third and fourth, are you? But I think I may be writing for an imaginary twin me, and the only difference between us is that Imaginary Twin Me didn't write the story. Ideally--and this is where stuffing your manuscript in the drawer for a while helps--she reads the story from an outsider's perspective. And here's the thing: Imaginary Twin Me is extremely critical. I mean, at least I have that going for me. But you know what? I think three years of writing movie parodies has actually made me a better writer, because Imaginary Twin Me is now extremely sensitive to stupidness of all kinds. I'm kind of scared of her, actually. If a line of dialogue is flat-footed or overwrought, she's going to notice. If something seems rushed, implausible, half-baked, childish--she's going to be over there snickering. It's to the point where I think Imaginary Twin Me may be one of the reasons I'm a little scared of the blank page these days--she may actually be the reason why I never finish anything. I may need to orient myself towards an Ideal Reader who's a little more gentle and a little less... me.

Fired Wal-Mart pharmacist awarded $2M in sexism case.

Texas crowd kills man after car hits kid. "The man who was killed had been trying to stop the group from attacking the vehicle's driver when the crowd turned on him, authorities said. The child was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries."

Migrants stuck on island forever? Not what it sounds like, sadly.

New age town in U.S. embraces dollar alternative.

Japan changes name of Iwo Jima "to its original name of Iwo To after residents there were prodded into action by two recent Clint Eastwood movies."

'Dubailand' aims to be Middle East Orlando.

The committee that recommended Salman Rushdie for a knighthood didn't bother to ask whether it would piss anyone off. You know, like THE MIDDLE EAST. Oops.

As Mayor Of Munchkin City In The County Of The Land Of Oz: Mike Bloomberg, Independent. I just enjoyed the headline.

Sci-fi convention wank. From the '30s. Absolutely charming, and includes evidence that the terms "fandom" and "BNF" (Big Name Fan) were already in use lo these many years ago. Also: the first convention cosplayer. Of course it was Forrest J. Ackerman.

Mystery Movie Director Seeking Date on Craig's List.

Author defends J.T. Leroy autobiography. You know, the one where she herself was actually "J.T. Leroy."

John Travolta joins Cruise in berating psychiatric medication. I don't know, can you actually see me flipping the double deuce across the internet? FUCK YOUUUUUUU.

Kate Winslet to be perfume spokeswoman... on the condition that she not be airbrushed in the ads.

The BEST CAR AD EVER: "Me So Hyundai."

xkcd: Pickup Lines.

wonders if i has evil twin??; I is being stalked.

Beatles? Nirvana? Overrated! "Every band you worship is overrated. Even U2, even Sonic Youth. They all blow and here's why." WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?

"Did Grey's Anatomy steal my spec script?" John August: "Being a good spec script writer, you followed their style and picked a song title. You chose a Sheryl Crow song. So did they. What are the odds? Huge. So absurdly huge that you’re going to feel foolish in about three paragraphs."

Top 50 Best Movie Endings. Batman Begins? Please. I love that movie, but it doesn't even have the best ending of a Batman movie (although maybe I just feel this way because it doesn't end with a sweeping Danny Elfman cue). And any list that does not include Amadeus ("I absolve you!") is made of fail.

The other thing that depressed me was all the posters in the comments squawking that they hadn't seen most of the movies. Generally I try to conceal the holes in my film education, thanks. I just hate when people say things like that, I guess, because to me the undertone is, "Why didn't you pick entries from the small pool of recent movies I'VE seen?"

The 25 greatest action movies of all time! Wow, people are just in a listmaking frenzy right now.

Michael Moore calls shenanigans on the leaking of the Sicko digital master.

Scorsese's 'Frankie Machine' Moving Forward, Source Says.

New Simpsons Movie Poster.

All Hail The Rat King: Turturro Preps For ‘Nutcracker’ Musical.

LonelyGirl15 Now Has Marketing Deal!

Pedro Almodovar Trash Talks Tarantino. FIGHT! FIGHT!

Heroes adds six new cast members.

Info on the proposed POTC4 plot? I don't want to encourage them, but... it actually sounds kind of good.

Mixed reviews for 'Lord of the Rings' musical.

Broadbent Confirms Indiana Jones 4 Role.

Miller and Owen Causing Trouble. "Universal Pictures and Strike Entertainment have set Frank Miller to adapt the Raymond Chandler novella Trouble Is My Business as a star vehicle for Clive Owen, reports Variety." You know, I feel so guilty about enjoying the Sin City comics, because, let's face it, Frank "Whores!" Miller has some issues with women. I mean, they're not R-Rated Horror levels of Issues with Women, but they're still issues ("Frank Miller Respects Wimmins!"). But one of the reasons I love Sin City--the movie--is that Clive Owen gets to deliver all that ponderous, ridiculous, deadpan, neo-noir narration. And a Chandler movie would basically be two hours solid of that. Whee!

New Trailer for Julie Delpy's '2 Days in Paris'; Trailer For 'He Was A Quiet Man'--with a drastically altered Christian Slater--Hits the Web.

Tyler Perry on making hits outside Hollywood.

Neil Gaiman discusses Stardust with IGN. I really hope that this whole trend of involving the original author with movie productions continues, because if nothing else, the fact that they even care what the writer thinks tells you that they're not going to just go off and butcher the thing without a care. It might not turn out great, but it won't be Earthsea (top user comment: "I join the ranks of the dismayed").

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Tags: black ribbon, writing

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  • Long-delayed updates

    (I've had this drafted for several days and somehow just never posted it--as an upfront update, got a good amount of work done today on both the book…

  • Podcasts!

    I kept trying to write ~companion posts~ to go with the podcasts, got too bogged down in rainy depression to manage it (THREE WEEKS OF STORMS AND…

  • So I saw Pacific Rim

    @cleolinda: Well. Pacific Rim was kind of like if Independence Day had sea monsters and was quality. @cleolinda: It's basically the movie Michael…