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  • Jan
    started a topic Interesting JMS Facebook Posts & Tweets

    Interesting JMS Facebook Posts & Tweets

    I found a cool post over on JMS' Facebook page this morning that it would be easy for folks to miss even if they follow him because he was answering a question somebody else asked. Since it struck me as something worth archiving, I've decided to start this thread and see how it goes. Mostly, I'm thinking to just post stuff that isn't specific to any one project that will already have its own thread. The format will be similar to what we did for the "Asked and Answered" books where a question asked is paraphrased and then JMS' answer.

    Question: A poster asked JMS to describe the path a writer takes and to comment on where JMS feels he needs to improve as a writer as he's been re-evaluating his work in monthly comics.

    I think if someone goes at this thinking "it'd be fun to write for a living," he's making a serious tactical error. First off, it's lonely, painstaking, agonzing work where there is no clear win for many years. You go down the road of thinking you're doing right or growing, or at least hoping you are, but you really have no clear idea if you're doing it right and may not know for years. Samuel Delaney got literally hundreds of rejection slips before ever selling anything. In any other job, whether it's building a house or selling widgets or making cars, there's some sort of external standard you can use to determine if you're doing it right. Until you begin selling, you have no idea, it's all internal.

    Second, the only reason you should write is because you don't have a choice, because you *have* to write, not because you think it'd be cool or fun. Stephen King said you don't write for the money, or the fame, because if you do you're a monkey; you write because to not write is suicide.

    Those two points out of the way, probably the single biggest point of transition is learning to listen to your own voice and get out of your own way. We all get this notion of what writing is supposed to be, that it's supposed to sound literary, or sound like some other writer you admire, but what it's really supposed to sound like is you. Writing is nothing more or less than talking on the page in your natural voice, letting nothing censor or intrude on that. Good writers write the way they talk and talk the way they write. You have to learn to make it natural by un-learning bad ideas.

    Many years ago, a young and struggling Isaac Asimov was sitting with his agent, trying to figure out voice (which is not the same thing as style). His agent said, "You know how Hemingway would write, 'The sun rose in the morning?'"

    "No," Asimov said, eager for illumination. "How?"

    "The sun rose in the morning."

    You just say it. And getting to that point is one of the most difficult battles a writer fights on the way to becoming a pro.

    As for reviewing my own comics work...I'm looking at it in terms of characterization, action and overall plotting. Dialogue I know I can do, that's not an issue, and in general I have a good handle on characterization, at least in terms of the main characters. But I'm finding that in my comics work, often the supporting characters get short shrift, or are too completely excised. Some of that was necessary to bring the focus to the main character, who got lost in the underbrush, but I started to rely on that too much, so that sometimes the worlds my characters inhabit aren't as varied or interesting as they need to be.

    Similarly, sometimes my comics plotting tends to be too narrow in focus...I can write big broad epics in tv or film, but I seem to keep having a problem translating that into comics. Ditto with action: most of the action in my books tends to be one-on-one instead of big free-for-all brawls. There are writers who can do those big massive battle scenes really well; I'm finding that this is a weakness on my part, so I'm re-evaluating many of those scenes to say, "Okay, if I were writing that right now, how could I broaden the scope of the action and make it more varied, more interesting, with broader ramifications?"

    The goal with this, and really all writing, is to keep adding tools to your tool box, so I'm looking over my work to see what tools I had going into this, what they allowed me to build, and what new tools I need to acquire in order to build more textured objects.

  • B5-Stefan
    replied
    Further news to jms "work day balance":

    When asked "... When necessary for certain projects, have you found any tricks to modify your internal schedule?"
    JMS retweets (mar. 15, 2019):
    Not really, no. If I'm running a show and the only chance I have to write is during
    what mortals call "the day" I try to knock down a few pages knowing it's crap and I'll
    have to rewrite it later, but at least the clay is on the table. Otherwise, nope,
    fuggadettaboudit.
    Now, some people with a comparable work day schedule having ADHD, speculate about.

    JMS retweets (mar. 15, 2019):
    I rarely getting to bed before 4 a.m., so it's a natural result. The phone doesn't
    ring, no interruptions, and the brain works differently late night, more open to odd
    ideas, which is why informercials air then; at 2 a.m. the idea of buying a snuggie
    actually seems reasonable
    I do prefer MORE ODD IDEAS by jms against all thinkable snuggies.
    B5-Stefan

    --
    Sinclair: "Stay close to the Vorlon. And watch out for shadows.
    They move when you're not looking at them.
    "

    Leave a comment:


  • B5-Stefan
    replied
    Proper description of his work day:

    JMS tweet (mar. 12, 2019):
    I generally write until about 4 a.m., crash for 8 hours, get up, spend a couple of
    hours trying to find my face (sadly, it's always the same face), doing meetings,
    revisions, emails and twitter, then around 7 the jet engine in my brain roars to life
    and I fly until 4.
    B5-Stefan

    --
    Elric: "You don't frighten easily."
    Vir: "I work for Ambassador Mollari. After a while nothing bothers you."
    [Babylon5, The Geometry of Shadows]

    Leave a comment:


  • B5-Stefan
    replied
    Originally posted by Jan View Post
    Mostly he's said things like this:
    http://jmsnews.com/messages/message?id=17820
    Before it fell into depravity, Babylon was a center of commerce, and
    culture, and trade, and diplomacy.
    jms
    Jan, indeed I recall that jms did mention Babylon the mesopotamian big city of commerce as an inspiration for him.
    But the babylonian chaos versus order myth - aka vorlons versus shadows
    and in particular
    the hanging gardens of Babylon analogy to the green inner surface of the O'Neill tube
    seems to me really as a not before seen info.

    B5-Stefan

    --
    "Many Americans tend to go for someone who is strong-and-wrong over someone who is weak-and-right.
    Given Trump's crossover performance today I wonder how weak-and-wrong is going to play in some corners..."
    [JMS tweet, July 2018]



    Leave a comment:


  • Jan
    replied
    Mostly he's said things like this:
    http://jmsnews.com/messages/message?id=17820

    Before it fell into depravity, Babylon was a center of commerce, and
    culture, and trade, and diplomacy.

    jms

    Leave a comment:


  • B5-Stefan
    replied
    Twitter: When asked about the naming "Babylon":

    J. Michael Straczynski retweets (feb. 27, 2019):
    1) The Vorlon/Shadow conflict has its origins in the Babylonian myth that the universe was born in the struggle between order and chaos; 2) the O'Neil tube concept reminded me of the hanging gardens of Babylon, and 3) Babylon was a place of great commerce.
    Did he state these 3 reasons so clearly ever before?
    (Well, can be a matter of my lost memory)

    B5-Stefan

    --
    Delenn: "If the universe puts a mystery in front of us as a gift, politeness requires that we at least try and solve it."
    [Babylon5, Atonement]

    Leave a comment:


  • B5-Stefan
    replied
    Twitter: When asked about the voices talking to him:

    J. Michael Straczynski retweets (Jan. 31, 2019):

    The voices never entirely go away, they accrete like lint on a sweater. I suspect that's why so many writers turn to booze, in an effort to silence them. As a non-drinker, my only option to solicit silence involves terrorizing people on Twitter.
    <HAHAHA>
    That's pretty cool!
    Let's go twitter this night...


    --
    Dukhat: "I'm not saying anything. I didn't say anything then, and I'm not saying anything now."
    [Babylon5, In the Beginning]

    Leave a comment:


  • Apsu
    replied
    Originally posted by Looney View Post

    Not really. I am doing all of those things plus working a another job, going to medical school, and raising 11 children as a single dad.
    You are not Looney !!!! He would have NEVER say "I am doing" but "Looney is doing"
    WHO ARE YOU

    Leave a comment:


  • Looney
    replied
    Originally posted by B5-Stefan View Post

    Seems veery busy ;-)
    Not really. I am doing all of those things plus working a another job, going to medical school, and raising 11 children as a single dad.

    Leave a comment:


  • B5-Stefan
    replied
    When asked about "what he's working at the moment":

    J. Michael Straczynski retweet (Jan. 18, 2019):

    "20K words from finishing my new mainstream novel (details classified), 30 pages from finishing a new screenplay (ditto), a new pilot script goes out to auction next week (ditto-ditto), putting final touches to the autobiography, developing multiple other TV projects."

    Seems veery busy ;-)


    --
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is limited."
    [Albert Einstein]

    Leave a comment:


  • B5-Stefan
    replied
    Originally posted by Ubik View Post
    Joss Whedon B5 reboot anyone?
    Ubik,
    You know it's a far away and theoretical question, cause WB had declared...

    But I'm definitely interested in a Whedon Firefly reboot. ;-)
    <-- what about our smilies?

    B5-Stefan


    --
    Lyssa Deradi : "Did they live happily every after?"
    [Babylon5, In the Beginning]


    Leave a comment:


  • Ubik
    replied
    Okay, I'll stop ranting about the B5 movie now.

    Joss Whedon B5 reboot anyone?

    Click image for larger version

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    Leave a comment:


  • Jan
    replied
    Originally posted by Ubik View Post
    He boldly proclaimed he'd write the script and shop it to investors. I am unsure if either of these things have happened.
    Well, in one interview he said that he planned to *finish* the script so, offhand I'd say yes. And he's reported the difficulty in getting investors when he doesn't hold all of the rights so I'd say that would be a yes, also. All of which were reported here, of course.

    He even said WB would get a first look in at it. Perhaps this has been going on behind the scenes and it hit a wall? Hard to say. It's just it was all said with such certainty, and as a fan, it's disappointing to hear of no movement after such a bold statement of intent.
    Sounds like you think he should be reporting in to us. I don't.

    Most creators I follow, even the relatively small ones, don't tend to talk about a project until it's actually greenlit and in production with a release date for the finished product. In most cases, they are generally barred from talking about a show, or book, or whatever until it's officially announced anyway.
    Yes, that would be the case if the B5 script were commissioned by an outside entity. That entity would be the ones deciding what could be made public.

    Perhaps I'm being an entitled fan here, JMS owes me nothing, but like all of you, I am hoping he's beavering away behind the scenes and there is movement, but he appears to have really backed off from what he said at Comic Con. I remain unsure that he'll ever have the required 'street cred' to get it made. If he doesn't already have the necessary clout in Hollywood to take a run at it, I doubt he ever will.
    You appear to think he's got a lot more control than is likely the case. Sure, maybe if he had $60-80 million dollars of his own to lavish on making a B5 film he could do as he (and you/we) wished. That's not the reality. The reality is that I can think of at least four projects that would have elevated his 'street cred' since 2014 and none have happened yet for various reasons. I also assume he's working away at a number of other projects and I look forward to seeing what might come of them.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ubik
    replied
    Originally posted by Jan View Post

    Kind of the nature of the business, I'm afraid. The majority of projects never get made and all of JMS' projections for making a B5 movie were predicated on the build-up of Studio JMS. It's not as though it was all under his personal control, after all. If it were, Spike wouldn't have ceased to be and 'Red Mars' would be a thing (among others). Should we start the chorus of 'I wish he wouldn't talk about something until it's certain' now or skip it this time?
    I totally understand it's any number of factors that have to align to make it happen. Arguably, if it's being produced under his studio, then it is largely under his control if it moves forward or not. But Studio JMS looks as dead as a doorknob. It doesn't even have an active web presence.

    He boldly proclaimed he'd write the script and shop it to investors. I am unsure if either of these things have happened. He even said WB would get a first look in at it. Perhaps this has been going on behind the scenes and it hit a wall? Hard to say. It's just it was all said with such certainty, and as a fan, it's disappointing to hear of no movement after such a bold statement of intent. Most creators I follow, even the relatively small ones, don't tend to talk about a project until it's actually greenlit and in production with a release date for the finished product. In most cases, they are generally barred from talking about a show, or book, or whatever until it's officially announced anyway.

    Perhaps I'm being an entitled fan here, JMS owes me nothing, but like all of you, I am hoping he's beavering away behind the scenes and there is movement, but he appears to have really backed off from what he said at Comic Con. I remain unsure that he'll ever have the required 'street cred' to get it made. If he doesn't already have the necessary clout in Hollywood to take a run at it, I doubt he ever will.

    The fan community are definitely still interested in it though, that much is clear!
    Last edited by Ubik; 01-07-2019, 02:33 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jan
    replied
    Originally posted by Ubik View Post
    So much for studio JMS and all that tall talk at Comic Con so many years ago.
    Kind of the nature of the business, I'm afraid. The majority of projects never get made and all of JMS' projections for making a B5 movie were predicated on the build-up of Studio JMS. It's not as though it was all under his personal control, after all. If it were, Spike wouldn't have ceased to be and 'Red Mars' would be a thing (among others). Should we start the chorus of 'I wish he wouldn't talk about something until it's certain' now or skip it this time?

    Leave a comment:

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