Friday, October 17, 2008

'It's always somebody else's fault' syndrome

To me, there's no shame in saying you can do better next time, or admitting responsibility when things don't work out. I've always gleaned far more from my mistakes than I have from successes. I tend to learn by repetition, so having to do something again is good for me. That's not to deny an in-built tendency to hope for perfection at the first time of asking - but I learned to accept failing short isn't fatal or abject failure.

It's the finished work, the end product that counts, not the stages required to achieve that gleaming conclusion. Often a story you've written gets tainted by the tortuous development process, so much so you lose all objectivity about its merits. The audience only sees the end results, not your workings. Every draft en route is merely another step on the path. Some drafts leads done blind alleys, so back up a step and then go forwards again.

If there's one thing I can't abide, it's creatives who blame everybody else for a story's poor reception - but never themselves. When I was a comics editor there was one particular individual who specialised in this behaviour [they still do, judging by interviews with them I've read]. The audience didn't like a story? Perhaps the audience wasn't clever or sophisticated enough to appreciate it. Or it was presented badly, or marketed poorly.

No, hold on, it was the editor's fault. They interfered with the creative vision. They commissioned the wrong collaborators. They did too much editing, or too little editing. They deigned to change the creative's priceless work, or didn't challenge the creative enough. Maybe the collaborators weren't given enough support, or perhaps they were over-managed. Everybody else was to blame with this individual, but never the individual themselves.

Sometimes I wondered if they owned a mirror. Had they never spotted themselves as they walked past a shop window? Had they ever thought - hmm, perhaps my work wasn't good enough? Apparently not. Me, I'm more than willing to acknowledge my mistakes and my flaws. I figure it's the better to recognise your weaknesses, listen to criticism and endeavour to improve. Blaming everyone but yourself is delusional behaviour that helps nobody. Live and learn.

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