Radioactive Dinosaurs & Writing as Fishing

A reader writes in with two unrelated questions:

 In your opinion, what is the best Godzilla movie?

I love questions, silly or serious. Every question is a little doorway into the walled garden of truth, big or small.

I have several Godzilla flicks that I like. What lawyer does not like Godzilla movies? All the titles sound like law cases.

The original first one, which I finally saw in Japanese (without Raymond Burr), was really a work of art that worked on several levels, as a myth, as mystery story, as a meditation on the dangers of atomic weapons, and as a monster story.

Aside from that, I like the sixth film in the series, GODZILLA VERSUS MONSTER ZERO, where the menacing aliens of Planet X, the Xiliens, use the various Toho kaiju to attack  the Earth.


Part of my reason for liking the film was the actress Kumi Mizuno looks delightful in her spacesuit.


kumi 4

I rather like DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, just because it will filled with monster goodness, and I liked when Toho returned to the same them with GODZILLA FINAL WARS, and not only did our old friends from Planet X, the Xiliens, again show up, but so did the flying submersible boring-drill machine battleship Gotengo from the movie Atragon.

Next question:

Do writers seek to make a masterpiece everytime they write a new story, or do they simply try to write to the best of their abilities? Is there a difference?

I can speak for no writer but myself. I write the same way a cobbler makes shoes. He wants each pair to be made in a craftsmanlike fashion: well-made, serviceable, watertight, comfortable to the foot, long-lasting, and good to the eye.

Likewise, I want my books to do the service for which the customer paid the money: to be entertained on a rainy day, to praise the praiseworthy, blame the blameworthy, and remind the reader that grass is green, snow is white, and water will wet you and fire will burn.

I do not seek to make a masterpiece each time I write, or any time I write. Nor do I seek to crank out hackwork, stuffed with lazy writing. I do not really think about me and my motives when I write: I only think about the work itself.

Writing is the art of being brave in the face of a blank sheet of paper.

I write what I am inspired to write by that mysterious thing that compels writers to write, the thing pagans call the muses, or Christians know to be heaven, and postchristians call the subconscious mind.

Technically speaking, a masterpiece is the work a journeyman in a guild wrights in order to show he has mastered his craft. By that standard, one’s first professional sale into a major market is one’s masterpiece, and, by no coincidence, often it is a writer’s best work.

But we are not speaking technically: you are asking whether writers attempt to make their current work their best.

The difference between doing one’s best and doing a masterpiece is the difference between a comparative and a superlative. Doing one’s best means straining each nerve and muscle to the utmost, whether those efforts are met by success or failure. Writing a masterpiece means the work itself merits fame and applause, whether it was done with great effort on the author’s part, or, ironically, tossed off without a second thought.

My editor says my best work, the best thing I have ever written, is a short story that I penned in an afternoon off the top of my head in one draft. The story made no impression on me and I hardly remember it.

On the other hand, I sweated and labored over my favorite thing I ever wrote, and expected it would win awards. When it appeared in the magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, it received no comment, no applause, no awards.

Writing is like fishing. The fisherman wakes early, finds a good spot where the salmon are running, selects his bait, and uses his skill to tie his lure and to cast. He can be proud of his part of the work, which is the skill at fishing.

Sometimes you stand in the cold for hours and catch only small fry. Sometimes you have to know what to throw back. Sometimes you struggle with a huge fish too big for you, and the line parts, and it gets away from you. Other times a prizewinning fish leaps at the first moment, with no effort on your part.

Trying your best is like the fisherman’s task, and the masterpiece is the fish.

You catch the fish, and you can feel a quiet pride in your fishing skills. But you did not make the fish.

God made the fish.

* * *

And, speaking of fishing, we need more Gotengo!

(Maser?! Maser?! What gives? That is clear the Zero Canon from the movie ATRAGON!)