“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say "It is yet more difficult than you thought." This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” - Wendell Berry
The script has been written. The cast has been cast. The locations, found. The film, shot.
"We did it," we shout! And so we should. Finishing a shoot is no small matter. Every plane landed deserves a celebration, after all. The only thing left is that pesky little task of editing the bugger into the thing you had imagined it to be.
Except that it isn't.
We sit staring at the screen - the editor, my co-director, and myself - wondering why the hell it isn't fitting together like it should. How come it doesn't feel right? What if we move this here? No, that wasn't it. What about moving that there? Nope. Still not right.
In the special features of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara (the girl with said tattoo), quotes David Fincher as saying, "…it isn't until after I've made the film that I feel ready to make the film."
I wish it weren't so, but I'm afraid it's true. Often it isn't until the Muse of Inspiration has transformed into the Muse of Form that the real work begins. It's slow and arduous and dreadfully painful.
Let me give you an example. Here are a few screen shots from the project we're currently working on:
I think they are beautiful. They move me to my core, in fact. In many ways, they are exactly what I had hoped we would capture. And yet, they aren't quite there yet. The first few edits of this thing aren't even close to the beauty I had fantasized about months prior. These stills need work. A lot of work. They will need the right music, the right sequencing, the right pacing, the right eye, the right…something.
This, my friends, is the business of form Mr. Berry and Mr. Fincher speak of. And form is a tough racket. So tough most people won't tread these deeper waters. "It's good enough," they say. But I don't believe that, and I hope you don't either.
Like Berry, I want to come to the end of myself, I want to feel confused by the first bad edit, because then I know I'm on the verge of something truly great.
Perhaps you're on a precipice yourself. You're staring at the screen, the blinking cursor, the application, the manuscript, the relationship, the whatever, and for some reason it's just not what you hoped it would be. This obstruction you think is an obstacle is actually a blessing in disguise. The gnawing in your gut, the frustration, the mystery to be solved wants to bless you with something new, but only if you let it.