Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Star Wars Chronology Project: Four Years In.



“Wisdom is the power to put our time and our knowledge to the proper use.” – Thomas J. Watson
I feel like time is my enemy, and in regards to the SWCP, and my fictional endeavour (which I’ll talk about a little later), it is.

This summer my days have been so filled from beginning to end that I have little time left for any “artistic” (I use the term loosely here) pursuits.  Which is ok, because I know my time is not being wasted. I know my time and knowledge is being put to its proper use.  It’s going to my wife, my children, my family, my friends, and my house (the last one is arguable).  I’m not sure how Thomas J. Watson would define “proper use”, but I have the feeling him and I don’t define it the same way.  Or maybe we do, who knows?

Anyhow, I bring the subject of time up because it’s a commodity I feel I have so little of this summer – time that’s just mine anyway.  I’ve had to carve out of my day little moments to write, which if you really want to write is tough.  Writing, for me anyway, requires a large block of undisturbed time.  Even as I write this, I had to wake up at 5 am to be able to sit down at my computer where no one demands my attention.  I think I should do this more often, but that means less sleep, which is not good for anyone, so maybe not.

There have been moments where I’ve been given time, but it’s time after I’ve given of myself, and that time is all but useless if you want to write.  All it’s good for is to catch your breath, and get ready for the next day.

Time, time, time.  I feel like I have so little of it.

Ok, so enough of that lamentation.  It’s time to look back at another year in the books.
Remarkably, I managed to put almost all of 32 BBY behind me, which is no small feat.  Once I get this bit of short story nonsense out of the way, I can go back to finishing off what I left of 32 BBY, and fill in some blanks from that year (Episode 1 Adventures).

My short story project is going well, even though I’d like to be further along than what I am.  I’ve got the bones of the narrative all laid out, and I’m now in the process of putting flesh to the bones so if I’m working top down I have the top half of the skull covered.  I continually oscillate between thinking the story is totally awesome to totally terrible.  I have to remind myself sometimes that my writing has always been for me and me alone.  I’m my intended audience.  If I like it then that’s all that matters, because ultimately, I’m not a commercial writer, I’m a hobby writer.  I feel like if I start to write in the hopes of other people approving of my writing then the love will be lost.  I’m not sure of this is a good attitude to have towards writing – I haven’t really reflected on it, but really, this whole project is my gift to myself, something I can look back on later with a bit of pride.  If others like what I write then that’s a nice bonus.  It’s a comfort to think that other people are rooting for me.

I really thought that four years in I’d be further along, but I’ve decided to call this the end of “1st year”.  What I mean is that if I’m pursuing my PhD is Star Warsology, and a PhD is typically four years, and really, I’m a part time student of Star Wars, then this project should take me another 12 years to complete – four real life years to one ‘Star Warsology Academic year’.  Make sense?  So, with this in mind, I’m considering my fictional project my end of the year paper, and you all are my professor.  It’s my big essay to demonstrate what I’ve accumulated and learned.  So when you read it, be critical, and give me an honest grade.

On that note, I know I said I’d hope to have it done by the end of the summer, but that’s not happening.  I think realistically before Christmas.  But know this – I will have it done.  I was reading some writing tips a few people posted to my Facebook, and the same tip kept coming up: Finish it!  So I’ve taken that bit of advice to heart.  Getting it done is the hardest part, I know this.  Make sure to prod me along too if you don’t mind, just drop the odd comment here and there and be like “Hey MKB, how the story coming along. I was thinking about your project and thought I’d just check in”.  That’d be nice.

Boy – it’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan, no?

I haven’t talked about the Disney acquisition of Star Wars on my blog, so just to give you my two sense of this, I think it’s overall a great thing, but here is my fear.  My fear is that in 2015 we are going to be given the movie we wanted back in ’99.  It’s going to be mind-blowingly awesome; however, it’s going to trample on all the canon of Star Wars post ROTJ. I really feel like there is this disconnect.  I don’t understand how Filoni and others talk about how the writers and makers of all things Star Wars of today are fans of the franchise, and then dismiss events from the EU, The Clones Wars being what I’m referencing here.  I’m still disturbed by Filoni’s comments from Star Wars Insider’s July 2012 issue where he basically says the movies and the Clone Wars are a parallel universe to the EU, the EU being the lesser of the two.  For me, the EU is the heart and soul of Star Wars.  The EU is the heartbeat of Star Wars.  The EU has unfolded, in real time (which is unprecedented from a literary standpoint – I cannot stress enough how remarkable this is), the mythology of America. The EU is all canon to me – even the parts that don’t work well together.  I like that it doesn’t all fit.  I talked about this in my write up on Terry Brook’s The Phantom Menace novelization – this is what gives Star Wars its mythological feel. Luke, Han, and Leia have all aged in almost real time.  I know I’m sounding like a super-fan right now, but to disregard the EU is to disrespect Star Wars itself.  The Star Wars universe is the most artistically democratic literary creation in existence today. So many unique voices tell its story, and mostly, these voices sing in unison.

I really hope the makers of our Star Wars today listen to the song of Star Wars post ROTJ.  I really hope this new song will keep with the rhythm and the beat of what’s come before it, and respect the chorus.  Though I anticipate that I’ll like what comes in 2015 – a good story with compelling characters, great visuals and all that – I think the price will be the EU.  This is my fear for Star Wars.

The good news is that I’ll be able to see for myself if this is the case in 2015, as my wife and I have decided to attend Celebration VII in Anaheim.  It’s still all very tentative, there are many hitches to this plan, but if things stay status quo until the end of 2014 I really think it’ll happen.  I’ve never been to a Star Wars Celebration, and I think I’ve picked a good one to go to – right before the new films are released, along with the new show Star Wars Rebels coming out, which I’m really the most excited about.  Seriously, I’m more excited about the animated series than I am about the movies.  I guess I feel that the animated series has less of a chance of disturbing the EU than the films do, but really, such fear is mere conjecture.  Anyone else excited for this show?  Are we going to see Vader hunt down and destroy the remaining Jedi Knights?  How totally awesome is that?

So when I confirm that I’m going to Celebration VII, and if you’re a reader of my blog and you’re also going to Celebration VII, and if you’re up for it, let’s meet for a beer.  We’ll geek out together over a draft and wings.  Drop me a line here, or send me your e-mail over at thefore.net boards (my handle there is JarenJade) and we can begin to organize.

Speaking of geeking out, another bit of Star Wars news from my life is that I’ve decided the run the Star Wars fan club at my school this year.  There are some real Star Wars fans among the student body, so I’ve decided to get the club up and running.  We’re going to start with a chronological viewing of the Star Wars saga, so maybe you can help me out here.  We’re going to watch everything, so here is my list:

The Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones
The Clone Wars Season 1-5
The Clone Wars (Tartakovsky and Gilroy version)
Revenge of the Sith
The Droids and Ewok animated series (Does it go here?)
A New Hope
The Star Wars Holiday Special
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
Caravan of Courage (Does it go here?)
The Battle of Endor (Again, does it go here?)
If you have a comprehensive list of a chronological viewing of these please share.

As it is, happy anniversary, and until next time, may the Force be with you.

7 comments:

  1. I'm very interested to read your story one it's finished. That would be the first unofficial SW story I have ever read (there's so much official stuff to read). Rest assured that I will look closely for every EU contradiction in it.

    I'm also worried about the post-RotJ EU, even though I haven't read much of it. It's still part of the history of the galaxy far far away. But the film makers will have the film story as the first priority.

    Rebels sounds good, I hope that it's set some years after RotS (19 BBY is one busy year, it doesn't need anything more) mapping out the dark times the EU has left empty just for it. There's a lot of interesting stuff it could show.

    Here's your list in chronological order:
    The Phantom Menace
    Attack of the Clones
    Tartakovsky's Clone Wars Chapters 1-21
    The Clone Wars Season 1-5 (check the chronological order of the episodes)
    Tartakovsky's Clone Wars Chapters 22-25(actually the break is in the middle of Chapter 22, at 2:53 to be precise, but it's easier this way)
    Revenge of the Sith
    Droids animated series
    A New Hope
    The Star Wars Holiday Special (ha)
    The Empire Strikes Back
    Caravan of Courage
    The Battle of Endor
    Ewoks animated series
    Return of the Jedi

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  2. EU contradiction is what most concerns me, so I would really appreciate it if you pointed any out. Thanks for the revised list.

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  3. Thanks Pete. I'm still writing in the cracks of time in my life.

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  4. Sorry haven't been commenting recently. Sort of fell off the wagon. My apologies on that front. Going to try and get back on track with my reading. Congratulations on making it through year four, though!

    I would be happy to read your fanfic when you get it done.

    I'm also glad to see I'm not alone in my concerns for the EU. Certain characters might force retcons that throttle a lot of post-ROTJ stuff. But at least it sounds like they will mind the gap (the 40 or so years after Jedi) so maybe the EU will make it through relatively unscathed.

    For your viewing of the Holiday Special this is a version I'd consider. I feel the real commercial breaks help to frame it in a wider cultural setting:
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xn5gsj_the-star-wars-holiday-special_shortfilms

    Good luck going into year five!

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  5. Not a problem. I've fallen off the wagon of writing. Thanks for the link to the holiday special. In my Star Wars club we're currently at the 2008 Clone Wars movie, so we still have all 5 seasons of the Clone Wars to get through. It actually going quicker than I thought.

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  6. I haven't been reading here very much lately - I have a lot of Knights of the Old Republic material to go through before I'm ready to get very heavy into it - but I will be returning. Still, you asked me for the link to my review project, and now my blog is up, so here is the link to my Star Wars tag: http://insomniatic.co.uk/tag/star-wars/ This isn't only reviews, although I do plan to create a Page for them once there are enough out. So far, I've looked at the first two entries to Dawn of the Jedi. I have another two weeks to spend on that series (plus another one once the last issues of Force War are out) before going on to Tales of the Jedi.

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