Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Lessons from the Woodman

I saw Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine a few days ago. I liked it less than some people and more than others, but I'm not interested in talking about the movie. What I want to talk about is the fact that Allen has made a movie a year since 1966.

Sure, lots of those movies are forgettable. And sure, at this point in his career, Allen can get movies made that no one else working within his time and budget constraints could. But my point is this: he just keeps moving.

And as I contemplate the long and as-yet-undifferentiated vista of my mid-career, that seems like a worthwhile model. Most people can't put out whatever the academic equivalent of a movie a year is (a book every five? a conference paper every three months?), and I'm not advocating a focus on numbers in any case. But the way to have a lot of hits is not to fear a few misses. And the way not to fear a few misses is to already be engrossed by the next project.

It's weird that our creations only enter the world once we're decisively done with them; the book that I spent 10 years of my life writing is now the work of a past self, and it's hard not to feel some anticipatory defensiveness about any negative reactions ("hey! that's an idea I came up with in grad school! why you gotta be so mean?"). But hopefully this means that my energies will be elsewhere by the time the reviews come out: I've got a year of conference-going and new-work producing ahead of me.

Just keep moving.


undine said...

How right you are. Show up, keep moving, and save the angst for the screen rather than using up your day being stressed out about having to write (my personal besetting sin).

Anonymous said...

Speaking of forgotten Woody Allen movies, Small Time Crooks is one of the most underrated comedies to have come out in the last 15 years.

Flavia said...


Yes! I saw it in the theatre and loved it, and have occasionally thought about needing to see it again. Maybe this sabbatical year is the perfect time.