Saturday, August 23, 2008

And By Wednesday I Mean Not Wednesday

When I said the Frugal Traveler series was wrapping up on Wednesday, it was because I thought the "looking back" episode was running then. Which is why I was frantically editing it on Tuesday. About 10 p.m. I found out it wasn't running yet.

Which is fine, and sometimes that's how editing goes. There's a very strange relationship between deadlines, non-deadlines, and the decision-making process in any work. It's particularly a keenly felt thing in those pieces with a tight (or nearly-impossible) deadline.

Walter Murch, in talking about the editing process on "Apocalypse Now" calculated that all the work and hand-wringing and thinking resulted in an average of one edit per day. That won't fly in most types of work, and there's a fast collapse of the infinite possibilities that exist at the beginning of the process. Sometimes there's a keen awareness that decisions need to be made, they can't endlessly be reversed, and the piece has to move toward completion somehow.

I once had a professor who had been a classical music composer. He told the story of how he felt every piece he had composed had started as a masterpiece, and with one decision somewhere in the process it had changed and missed that mark. That's probably true.

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