A few nights ago I watched the original Star Wars with my housemates. I’ve seen it dozens of times, but it never seems to get old. Hell, I could probably go watch it again right now and still enjoy it.

… …

Ok I’m back. Yeah, I still enjoyed it. It’s just that great of a movie. But really, why is it such a great movie? Even if you don’t like it personally, you have to acknowledge that it spawned one of the most popular and well-loved franchises ever. But what is it exactly that makes it so great?

It all started with a man with a vision. That man was George Lucas, and the vision was, well, pretty dumb. At least at first. Yeah, originally it was called “The Journal of the Whills”, the Force was a giant crystal, and Han Solo was a green-skinned creature with no nose and gills. But fortunately for us there were plenty of people who told Lucas that he had some good ideas but the overall product was too complicated, too hard to understand, and kind of stupid.

Lucas had to listen to these people if he wanted to have any hope of getting his movie made. So he made changes based on the advice he got from friends and colleagues, and the result was the series that we all now know and love.

Well, I love it anyway. I’m sure there’s people out there who don’t enjoy it, but they’re probably all just jerks or something.

Now imagine if Lucas had ignored his friends and just self-published “The Journal of the Whills” as a story. It’s quite possible that no one today would know anything about Jedi, the Force, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, or Boba Fett.

And that would be a real shame.

Some would argue that this would be a small price to pay if it meant the world was spared from the presence of Jar Jar Binks–and they’d have a fair point–but that in itself is another lesson. Because with the original trilogy (episodes IV-VI), Lucas listened to the people around him and the effort was more of a collaboration than the vision of a single individual, but with the prequel trilogy (episodes I-III) Lucas had complete control. And the general consensus is that the original trilogy is great, while the prequel trilogy pretty much sucks.

On the other hand, there’s also J.R.R. Tolkien. As far as I know he followed his own vision almost entirely, with very little input from anyone else, and he’s now considered the father of modern fantasy.

The reason I mention all this is that I just really, really love Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. And, well, I do sort of have a vision of my own. I have a lot of ideas on what I want to do and how I want to present the works that I’m writing and editing, but am I like Tolkien and capable of producing something on my own that a lot of people will enjoy, or am I more like Lucas, in the sense that I need a lot of input from others in order for my ideas to be interesting to anyone who isn’t me?

I suspect I’m more like Lucas. Which means that as hard as it is for me to take criticism, I’m going to have to listen to the smart and talented people around me and make changes to my beloved stories based on their suggestions. Because I’d love nothing more than to create popular and timeless characters and worlds for them to inhabit, and if my vision needs a little tweaking from others, so be it. Better that than to create something that’s universally despised–or just not noticed at all.

But I still think a story about a spaceship crewed by sentient cockroaches who save the Earth would be awesome, and I’m not listening to anyone who says otherwise.


About Critical Awesomeness
I'm a 32-year-old American with a PhD in chemistry and a green hat. Only one of these two things is really important.

2 Responses to vision

  1. MAJK says:

    “a spaceship crewed by sentient cockroaches who save the Earth would be awesome”

    Absolutely!! Wait… are they NY cockroaches because THEN it would be truly awesome.

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