Years ago I realized the pleasure of spending a few bucks to see something that cost $100 million or more to make. It’s a special bargain when you realize hundreds of people spent years making something you can watch in just over an hour. A novel which takes a few hours to read, might have taken years or a lifetime to write, and that compression of effort, when you stop to think about it, adds meaning to all created things. Even if ordinarily you might not like result of that work.
As a maker (e.g. writer) I’ve learned there’s an available mindset when watching, reading or using something: I can think not only as a consumer but also as creator. Why did they design it this way? What were they thinking here? How many meetings did it take to decide that shot? Or that plot twist? What were they trying to do, and how do I imagine they considered the result? Even for a bad film, this framing can make the experience quite different and often much better. Even for a bad experience, given the amount of effort that went into it, I can find it interesting or educational for reasons other than the consumer experience alone.
I wonder if there could be some sort of metric for writing that told you the ratio of time-to-create versus time-to-consume. On Twitter it’s basically 1:1, you can craft and consume a tweet in a time measured in seconds. For this blog post, it may take me an hour to write it and 5 minutes to read (not skim) it. You can work your way all the way up through 8-10,000 word essays, and books that may take years and years (or a lifetime) to create.
I’ve thought about this in various forms over the years. Sometimes it’s hard to guess at the true ratio: I do know writers who agonize over tweets, in the same way poets suffered offer their short poems. Some great works were easy to do (if you don’t include the time required to learn the trade), and some awful works took years of hard work.
Regarding the ratio: It seems the greatest relationship is likely in old cathedrals, which took hundreds of people dozens of years to make. Films, in terms of expense, are hard to beat: years of effort at (often) hundreds of millions per year.
Any thoughts on other ratios, or better ways to formulate the ratio?