Friday, October 20, 2006

Auf Wiedersehen!

My favorite t.v. show of the moment is Project Runway. Wednesday night was the season finale, where the four finalists presented their collections at Olympus Fashion Week and one of them won the big prize. ** Warning: Spoilers ahead for those of you behind on your TiVO. **

So out of the final four, I went into it rooting for Michael. I’d loved his work all season and if Kayne, my all time favorite, couldn’t make the final four, Michael was my next choice. Unfortunately, when the pressure was on, he didn’t deliver. I didn’t care much for his stuff at all. Laura’s designs were beautiful, classical, but not remotely innovative. Uli was the biggest surprise, forgoing her typical Miami beachwear for something a little more sophisticated and wearable outside a Caribbean resort.

But the winner was Jeffrey. Ahh...Jeffrey. He could be a jerk. He wasn’t above making family members of other players cry. He was all rock and roll with a tattooed neck and a soft side that you didn’t get to see until you saw him with his son. Love him or hate him, his designs were brilliant, innovative and edgy. You could argue that no woman over 22 would wear his stuff, but half the stuff that goes down the runway or gets put in a fashion magazine is over the top and more art than clothing.

In the end, no one really lost. Yeah, Jeffrey got the $100000 towards starting a line, the car, etc., but the other designers still got their work out there. I have no doubt that we will be hearing from all of those designers again in the future. Really, they all did such different work, it is hard to compare one to the other. If you aren’t a fan of sparkly evening wear, Laura wouldn’t be your favorite, but if you’re all about hip hop fashion, Michael is your guy. It’s subjective. Like writing and writing contests.

Yes, I’m finally bringing this around to writing. I recently saw some copy edits of a friend’s book that she’d gotten back from her publisher. If you’ve never seen these before, I fully recommend you harass a published associate into letting you see one. It was enlightening! As writers, we go to these workshops where editors tell us they are looking for a fresh voice. Unfortunately, that’s not something we can put our arms around, so we start nitpicking the details. Instead of making sure our 12 piece collection is cohesive and fashion forward, we spend hours fiddling with the hems and buttons. Yeah, an unfinished hem, or in our case, a bunch of odd typos may not impress a judge or an editor, but if the outfit shines, the details fall to the wayside. That’s what copy editors are there for. They don’t fix the storyline. They can’t fix your voice. They do fix comma and contraction issues, however, so do your best and let it go.

All this time I’ve been beating my head against a wall for using passive instead of active verbs. I should have been focusing on the story, the voice, the character development. That’s what they’re really looking for. Jeffrey’s pieces were made well, yes, but so were Laura’s. The difference was in the overall picture, the story, the voice. And yes, you may write historicals and your judge hates historicals and might lean more towards contemporary stories. But in the end, if it’s well written, those biases can be overpowered. And if they aren’t, even if you don’t win, you’re getting the exposure. Your name gets out there. You compete until you get better, then eventually, you do win.

So, if you watched PR, who was your favorite designer? I loved Kayne. He was way over the top, more Libarace than Ralph Lauren, but he could dress a woman’s shape like no one else on that show. I also liked Malan, but he was voted off before we could see much of what he could do.

If you didn’t watch, what was your last ‘a-ha’ moment with your writing? They come around now and then, something clicks in your brain and you think – I can’t believe I’ve been doing that all this time! Share yours.



krissyinva said...

I loved Kayne too, although he tended to go over the top. My favorite all season has been Uli. Although I'm not a fan of prints and the "Miami" color sceme, I usually loved the lines of her designs. She is very creative and like Heidi said I would wear those clothes. Jeffrey, well he's over the top and very funky, I personally would not purchase the clothes he designs but again that's the stuff magazines want!! Magazines tend to want the "off the wall" stuff. I have to say in Jeffrey is a huge step up from Santino(sp?) from last year, I know he didn't win, but that guy was insane!!

Playground Monitor said...

I never watched this show so most of your blog was like Greek to me.

However, I did take a peek at those copy edits and what an enlightening moment!

I think my "aha" moment came when I learned it's all about the story and to get that down on paper first. I don't worry about descriptions or setting or POV or talking heads. It's just story. Then I go back and add and/or fix the other.

I used to sit paralyzed at the keyboard because as soon as I'd write something, I'd immediately think "Oh no, can't write that because it's passive/adverb/jumped out of POV/backstory dump/whatever."

Once I stopped worrying about all the "rules" during the first draft, it all went more smoothly. It really IS true that you can fix crap but you can't do diddley with a blank one -- except maybe use it to line the gerbil's cage.

PM - who refuses to get sucked into another TV show ;-)

Maureen said...

Michael was my favorite and I agree that his runway show wasn't that good. I thought Uli's collection was gorgeous so I should have known it wouldn't win. If I love it then I know the judges don't think it's innovative enough. Laura made me laugh because she was going to do it her way regardless of what the judges suggested she should do.

Kathy said...

Great blog, SP! Good seque from Runway to writing. I always had a feeling Jeffrey would win. Why? Don't know. He has something. Charisma? A ner-do-well attitude? The I'm doing it my way, I have my own vision, this is my style, kind of thing. He stuck by his guns, he proved that he about more than leather. Hurray for Jeffrey! I didn't see the last few episodes but I'll catch the reruns. (With D #1 in Fashion School I've been quite smitten with Runway.)

I just read something great today however, something which ties into what you're saying. Over on there is an interview with Robyn DeHart.
For instance, when talking about writing the pre-published book, Ms. DeHart says..."It's the journey that matters." "Find something about your moment to enjoy, be proud of." She continues to say, her eyes were opened when she realized, "It's only me...only I can make my writing shine...characters seem real...prose smooth...write tight."

I sabotage myself, hold myself back because I fear what others will think or because of fear itself. Ms. DeHart quotes Julie Kenner, "Writing is an intensely personal journey." To share that journey one must push past the fear, flesh out the story, embolden characters...and like Jeffrey continue to be true to oneself.


Angel said...

I think one of my most recent aha moments had to do with knowing you are on the verge of publishing. Now, this is just my personal opinion, but when your critique partners start coming back with only grammatical issues, instead characterization, plot holes, and such, then you really are at the point where your work just needs to get in front of the right editor to sell.
Still a bit of luck, still lots of work to make each story unique and innovative, but a real mark of growth in your writing.


Problem Child said...

Ack! Where's my comment?

It was witty. Smart. Oh-so-deep and meaningful. EVERYONE would have been inspired by it.

Stupid blogger eats my comment on the day I write a good one. And now I can't remember everything I said.

Maven Linda Howard said...

Would it be small and petty of me to remind the Children how often their Mavens have said: "Forget the rules! Just tell the story!" ????

Yes, it would. So I won't. (You'll notice I used a comma after "yes" but not one after "so," even though to do so would be grammatically correct. Why not? Because of the rhythm at which I wanted you to read those two sentences!)

I learned more about writing from that first line edit that I've ever learned before or after. The great Leslie Wainger, this month's guest in the Sandbox, was the editor. But until you SEE line edits, until you see what really matters, you can't quite get what we've been telling you. Could it be you're all visual learners? The story matters. Your voice matters. A misplaced comma, an errant point of view . . . simply doesn't.

Instigator said...

I have to agree that seeing those line edits was more than eye opening! It's so easy to nit-pick commas, word choice, active vs. passive because those are things we can control. But it's easy to get wrapped in them when they really aren't that important (I mean they have some importance just not as much as we thought...)

Instigator - who's never seen Project Runway. No one shoot.

Problem Child said...

Nope, not small at all.

But I think we needed to be clunked over the head with the very big 3-ring binder for it to finally sink in.

I intend to write more and obsess less.