The J. Michael Straczynski Message Archive


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by J. Michael Straczynski (JMS).

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    From: Jms at B5
 Subject: Re:Frankly, You Amaze Me
      To: AOL  
    Date: 2/29/1996 12:31:00 PM  

Message 1 in thread 

View this message only

Cristine: thanks. You're right, in many ways it is personal to me. I tend
to get passionate about the job because I never taken on any job unless I
feel passionately about it, if that makes any syntactical sense whatsoever.
Life's too short. B5 is a particular case in that this is something that
everyone involved -- from the cast, through to the crew, directors, others --
is absolutely dedicated to. They believe that we're creating something
rather extraordinary here, something that'll be talked about for a long time
after we're gone.

It took me five years to sell this show, after everyone else told me to
forget it, that it'd never happen, that it was too ambitious...said that I
*could* sell it if I made it sexier, less aimed at the "smart" viewers and
more accessible to folks who just want plain action and a smattering of sex.
I could've sold a more mainstream series with far less hassle, to any of the
networks. But I have to tell *this* story.

So when you're obsessed with something, it's easier to spend 24.9 hours a day
working on it. (I cobble up the extra 9/10ths of an hour from a
fourth-dimensional gate in my office.) As for the online time...that ties
into the obsession part, in some ways, but beyond that, it's a chance to keep
working at my #1 bugaboo, demystifying TV, being responsive (and answerable)
to fans when it works or doesn't work...actually, it works out for me because
when I have to stop writing and think through a story point, I don't just get
up and walk into the living room to watch TV, where you can lose a couple
hours at a time. I stay at the keyboard, do a quick pass through one of the
nets, kill 15 which time I've worked out the story point, and I
get back to work. It keeps me at the computer.

But every conceivable sense, the work comes first in my life. This
is the single biggest thing I've ever attempted in my life, in terms of sheer
scale and scope and hours. It has a finite lifespan. So during that time,
it owns me. I can give it nothing less. When it's finally done, then I can
rest. Selling and running the show is like being yoked to a train; you pull
real hard for a long time, for five years, until it finally moves. Then it
picks up speed. And then you spend the next five years of your life running
as fast as you can in front of it, because if you slow down, it'll run over

    From: Jms at B5
 Subject: Re:Frankly, You Amaze Me
      To: AOL  
    Date: 3/2/1996 5:33:00 PM  

Message 2 in thread 

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"'re doing the same thing without the pain of two "bad" records."

Hrmmm...I dunno about that. There are a number of things I've done in the
course of learning my craft that I wouldn't necessarily want to put back on
the air just now. It's like the first time you learn carpentry; eventually
you can make swell stuff, but you know that hidden in the other room is the
napkin holder you made where the angles don't come together, the glue is
visible, the dowels don't quite fit properly....

Any form of art is trial and error. You make the same mistake 999 times, so
the 1,000th time you don't make that mistake anymore.


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