You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.
So here I am to try, and to fail, so I can learn.
Paul Fail. For The Win!

07 October 2009

Thoughts on Perspective

Recently I helped a group at work put together a humorous video for a training session.  I did the filming and the editing, and even added in some effects and titles.  It was a fun experience and it certainly piqued my interest in film.  The entire exercise in timing frames, cutting, and matching up audio tracks was not only challenging, but was also a lesson in editing. 

Even though the segments I filmed were funny, and put together was even funnier, by the end of it I just couldn't laugh any more.  After you've seen the same joke, heard the same dialogue, and seen the same sight gag so many times it loses it's affect.  By the time the viewing came around I was worried that it actually wasn't funny. 

My initial instincts were correct, and the shorts reception was positive enough that they scheduled a reshowing.  A big aprt of that was because I took the time to edit and re-edit it, and then edit it some more.  It was this process that made me so sick of it that also made it so effective.  The same thing can happen with writing.  You work it and you tweak it, and you keep making pass after pass and, then when it is finely at its highest pinnacle; that's when you are so very sick of your work that you think it must be crap. 

That's part one.  Part two has to do with the Curve of Competency.  Well, there is an actual Sociological description of this, but it has to do with how people grade their own peformance.  Basically, the very best know it, and the very worst know it.  What is interesting is that the two middle tiers switch.  The upper echelon tend to grade themselves to harshly, and they judge themselves lower than they ought.  The tier below them, however, don't actually realize how low they are and grade themselves higher. 

Combining the points creates a recipe for #fail.  You redo it enough that you lose perspective and think its crap.  You're good enough to keep writing, but you're not so good that you are able to do it professionally, so you judge it even harsher.  This leads to discouragement, and the Moose-turn* begins.  Now contrast that with someone who judges themselves with an inflated sense of quality.  They are not discouraged. Which brings us to Point Three. 

Success in the publishing can have more to do with perseverance than talent.  Those who keep pushing and pushing and pushing their work are more likely to be published than those who do not keep pushing.  Hence the unfortunate dichotomy in which it is those with the better talent who are less likely to keep pushing their work, while those with the lesser talent who are more likely to just keep submitting.  

Ah Mediocrity, thy parents are Counter and Intuition.

*-- A "Moose-turn" is a pilot's expression from bush country.  Basically inexperienced pilots will see a moose and starting doing turns around it to keep it in sight.  As they become infatuated with watching the moose they start banking more and more while getting slower and slower.  Basically a Death-spiral, but induced by a myopic focus.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment, I greatly appreciate it. Kind words are always nice, but please do not hesitate to give me criticism as well. I want to learn and write better, and your critiques are a huge help in that. Thanks!