Out Takes

            Last year, my webmaster finally convinced me that I really should have a blog.  For years I’ve resisted because let’s face it, there are millions of wonderful blogs out there, and what did I have to add to the conversation?  He just said, “it should be fun.” 

            Fun?  The prospect of posting something worth reading on a somewhat regular basis made my eyes cross.  It didn’t sound fun.  And besides, wouldn’t I just be repeating things that were better said by others?  That’s when I found my Flip Cam. Now, I’m no videographer, or even a photographer.  To be honest, I don’t really have an eye for either.  But there was something so unintrusive about my little camera that it called to me.

           It was easy to use, small enough to carry in my pocket, and the price was right.  The love affair began. 

            What I’ve discovered in my year as video maven is that I’ve learned to see stories in a new way, a more visual way.  It seems trite to say it, but I’ve learned something about “seeing.”  While it’s a different type of storytelling, it’s storytelling nonetheless.

            Indeed, there are many ways that the process of putting together a video resembles the writing of a story.  I recently finished a draft of a novel, and in this particular revision, the major key I hit was “delete.”  And that is true for most of my work.  I tend to overwrite, to write “long and wide” as one of my mentors once suggested.  So, the work of revision is a lot about deleting. 

            It’s hard because often the things that need to be omitted are the small moments of wonder that I just love, but that really do not contribute to the story, and in fact can drag a story down.  It’s not so different with film clips.  A video requires a lot of takes and retakes, and usually there is far more material than anyone can possibly use.  But to quote Jane Yolen, “don’t throw anything away.”  She believes that there is worth in everything and you never know when you might need a particular character or passage or scene in some other story.  So, “kill the darlings,” yes, but hang onto the notion of reincarnation. 

            It’s no different with video.  Thus, I have created a montage for you from some of my favorite small clips taken this past year, just for your viewing. 

            What’s the moral here?  Well, once in a while, it’s not a bad idea to sift through those old pieces of writing that you’ve taken a pair of scissors to, and see if there’s any value there.  You might be able to string them into a poem.  You might be able to figure out the story you couldn’t see at first glance.  Who knows?  You might have fun.

Kathi Appelt

           

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Out Takes

  1. Well said, Kathi. And I love the montage – Pigeon spas in London fountains, who knew?!! (Actually, my favorite in this video: Your grandkitty's answer to the question "Is life good?") Will I ever write a novel if what I like most is not the final product up on the screen but those wonderful snippets on the cutting room floor?

  2. Uma

    Julie I suspect the answer lies in structural choices. I think that the mind makes links between snippets if we select and arrange them in certain ways, and the links vary depending on that arrangement. I had fun watching this video and thinking about the gestures in each snippet–not because that's the only way to think of them but because that's what my mind wants to do at that moment. The collage approach to writing a novel, maybe? 

  3. Love this, Kathi–especially Jacob's fire-spinning. So beautiful!! And it's so right thematically: kill our darlings, but take chances, too!!!

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