I'm Special

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I'm Special

Postby Craig Browning » Mon Nov 20, 2006 1:51 am



I’m Special, I Just Invented Something…
P. Craig Browning


Quote possibly the worse thing ever put in a magic book was the line, “To Become a Famous Magician, Write a Book!”… I think it was Henry Hay that made that suggestion and over the past six years or so, I’ve wanted to hunt the man down and shoot him because of it.

Why?

For some reason our world has suddenly become inundated with a plethora of genus types; 14 and 15 year old kids that have been studying magic the past two to maybe five years, that think they are read enough and experienced enough to not just write and produce a book, but ask outrageous money for an electronic download of it. A small fortune for someone’s theoretical ideas; material that is not typically audience tested or properly worked out by testing. Not just by the innovator by his associates that work in the real world on a daily basis.

Let me give you an idea of what goes on in the world of the “Big Boys” when we create magic for you guys to buy. An effect like Rick Maue’s FATE {http://www.deceptionsunlimited.com/fate.html} first goes through a month or two of personal development by Rick himself then he starts talking it up with people like Docc Hilford, Banachek, Jamie Ian Swiss, John Stetson, Chris Carter and myself. We take it out for two or three months and grind it hard, using it in our shows or when we have opportunity so that we “Know” all that can be known about the technique or routine. We all take notes, try different types of presentations and themes then share what we have found with Rick or whoever it may be that’s asked for our help and our two-cents worth. After six or so months of actual field testing (research) working the bugs out, scripting discussions, etc. the product is ready for the next step of the process; looking into how to best manufacture, protect and market it. This can take an additional two to three months, sometimes more, depending on what the device is, and the logistics involved.

So we finally have a product as we come close to the end a one full year of testing and development, we get the inventory together, call our distributors and arrange for the ads; most all advertising has to go in at least 30 days in advance for the standard publication in order to guarantee location within the source (what page your ad will go on) it sometimes requires a 3-4 month advance submission “camera ready.”

In all of this you see how much time goes into the typical PROFESSIONAL release and the process is really close to the same for just about everything we do be it a grand illusion, card trick or book. I won’t even go into proper CD/DVD production or creating a solid lecture for video presentation, etc. But I will bring in one element most ignore when it comes to all these innovations and contributions – EXPERIENCE.

Over the past two months I believe it’s been, I’ve seen over a dozen people with less than five years invested into just studying magic let alone having any actual on-stage experience, claim to have “invented” a new effect, device/gimmick, et al. They add to their boast that “I’ve searched everyone and found nothing like it…” and unless they have direct access to the Magic Castle’s, Gary Darwin’s or the Magic Circle’s library (to name a few I’m aware of) I can assure you, they haven’t done the footwork. More so, most are terrified of the idea of asking a genuine authority like Max Maven (when it comes to cards or mentalism type material) or Jim Stinemeyer or Bill Smith when it comes to stage type stuff e.g. they haven’t done the footwork. (By the way, we old know-it-alls like Dale Shrimpton, Peter Marucci and I still ask other people about things and can be found frequently in the act of kicking ourselves for not remembering something.)

Just recently I reviewed a book by a young man that I’ve watched go through some stuff over the years. I thought it was well put together and had some great thinking and yet, I got chewed out because I didn’t pick up on the fact that he was “stealing from others”… as several put it. Well, for starters I don’t own all the books on the market and too, my memory tends to be c*** (not the best) for the most part. Secondly, the lad gave credit where credit was due; he may not have statements in the book from the originators of something complete with some kind of certification and whatever other “permission” type proofs people need now days for farting (after all, passing the gas was someone else’s idea first…). Long story short, the kid did do the right thing as far as I can tell, I didn’t recognize anything that seemed to be overt exposure but I bring his grief up so as to point out to all your self-publishing wiz-kids that want to get on the fast track to fame and misfortune, that this is another reason to check and double check your facts. Producing material that’s not been properly pulled together can and will result in a political nightmare that could destroy your career hopes and dreams.

So How Do I Become Known if I Can’t Write a Book?

I’m not saying you “can’t” write a book only that your age and lack of experience works against your success. You probably don’t want to hear that let alone believe it, but it’s a horrible truth; society is prejudiced when it comes to the maturation issue.

If you read Genii, you’ve probably heard of a guy named Mark Tripp… I believe it’s Linking Ring that features a writer named Joshua Kane. These are names, like Peter Marucci and I, that the public has learned to know and over time trust as the result of repetition and familiarity. There’s a ton of us out there and if you allow history to be your teacher you should wake up to the fact that contributing to magazines or if someone likes your material enough to do so, let them put a piece of yours in a book…

But I’m Not Making Money From It!

Nope! Not yet! And that’s the important word – YET!

The business word is tricky, you could gamble on a high investment quick return deal that’s a one shot program – do or die. Or, you can take the slower proven path of making a series of smaller investments over time and just allowing them to grow.

When you contribute two or three articles a year to one or two different publications a year, it starts adding up, YOU begin earning name recognition. Too, you will begin getting the kind of positive and critical feedback YOU NEED in order to grow as a personality and contributor to this industry. There will come a time when you just show up at a magic convention and people will want to meet you vs. you chasing certain people down and trying to meet them. For that matter, if your material is solid you will get asked by magic groups about your availability for doing a lecture or working a convention and so forth.

EGO is the biggest killer in show biz. It kills on many levels, the biggest being how it blinds us to the simple, proven and more practical courses of action; it prevents us from seeing honestly who we are and our “stations” in the mix of things. More important, our ego would rather encourage us to rush into things than it will guide us in directions that go against that instant fix – the drug of ego-stroking and instant gratification.

At 14, 15 and 16 I’d already started designing magic but unlike most, I’d already been on stage a number of years at a very steady level; my perspectives were different as were my resources. But, the wisest move I ever made was to sit on my designs and concepts and not put them out way back then (many of which will be coming out in the next few years). Not only did my holding back lend to me a resource for passive income in my latter years, it allowed me to work out all the bugs and create a superior system from what the original ideas were. One can only make those kinds of changes when he/she experiences life, sees what’s out there and LEARNS.

I believe it was in the TalkMAGIC forum a month or two ago, a lad logged in and claimed he know all there was about levitations and yet, he’d never heard of an Aga, Astro, Light Than Air, Gomolo, Asrah, etc. I wasn’t even going into some of the more exotic levitation systems; these are quite old terms yet common to someone familiar with magic history and the world of stage illusion. The horrid thing is, you can own six or seven of any one of these classic devices and no two will work or look similar. I once owned six different types of Asrah levitation systems just so I could perform it under any setting, even on the streets or in a living room… yet, I still didn’t know it all; more than most but there was still information, techniques and presentational twists known to others that I’d yet discovered.

If such is the case with an item as “rare” as a grand illusion of this sort, imagine how high the odds are stacked against someone when it comes to creating something “original” with a deck of cards; variations to what others have done, yes! But to literally create something “new”… the odds are outrageously against you.

I’m not saying these things to thwart your creativity, that’s the last thing I’d ever do. But I felt that a glass of cold water was needed on this passionate dance, just so the eager can get a glimpse of what reality is in this world and what may probably prove the better course of action.

Yes, there are exceptions to what I’m saying but I’ve found in most every instance in which a young person excels early in life, they have one or more old guys like me standing in the wings. Case in point… just prior to 9/11 I met a young very shy yet creative kid on line. This kid was brilliant in his use of words and psychological tactics for creating impossible scenarios.

Long story short I and another fellow you may have heard of by the name of Knepper, started encouraging and supporting this lad. Today he stands at the threshold of becoming one of the new shining stars in Las Vegas and is recognized internationally as one of the leading effects consultants of the trade… I’m talking about Luke Jermay. He’s one of those exceptions and though he was “fast tracked” to some degree, he’ll tell you himself that he got his hands slapped here and there along the way because his ego was trying to go out of check. Personally I believe he’s going to go further than Kenton or I ever dreamed of going and he’s not alone.

Anywho… just learn to pace yourselves, use some common sense and don’t go chasing fleeting dreams. Take your time and let things happen in a more methodic and practical way that works with a deliberate plan vs. “what ifs”.

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Postby Tomo » Mon Nov 20, 2006 2:34 am

Excellent essay, Craig. A lot of really good points.

This is exactly why I restricted myself to concentrating on something I know well: the humble stripper deck - something I use every day whether I need its abilities or not. My own slim volume has been nearly two years in the planning and writing, not least of which is because every shuffle and sleight needed road testing and honing way before I ever opened a word processor.

As for making money, nah, this is going to end up costing me a bundle, and as far as I'm concerned it'd better not make me famous either. It's just great to have finally produced an in-depth study of something that so many people have dismissed in the past as being a toy.

Even if no one bought a single copy, I'd still be happy to have finished it. After all, I write for a living. Rejection isn't nearly as fatal as people think.

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Re: I'm Special

Postby Charles Calthrop » Mon Nov 20, 2006 10:08 am

You make some good points. A lot of what you say is bang on, but...

Let me give you an idea of what goes on in the world of the “Big Boys” when we create magic for you guys to buy.


EGO is the biggest killer in show biz.


!

What you call heroism is just an expression of this fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots
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Re: I'm Special

Postby seige » Mon Nov 20, 2006 10:13 am

Charles Calthrop wrote:You make some good points. A lot of what you say is bang on, but...

Let me give you an idea of what goes on in the world of the “Big Boys” when we create magic for you guys to buy.


EGO is the biggest killer in show biz.


!


I do find Craig's posts informative, but at the same time I have to ask
"Which came first, Magic or Craig Browning?"

:D

Why does everything have to be based on solid foundations? If someone's creative, let it flow. Knowing the history of the world and every name of every man who did everything doesn't stop visionaries from being creative.

I am actually starting to speed read these posts now, as they display a rather nasty 'elitism' about them. I'm sure that's not how they're meant. But if you're looking for respect or understanding from the broad minded, this isn't the way to earn it?

The world is moving by, evolving, changing, growing—and there's always a time we have to admit that every day is a schoolday, and perhaps we DON'T know everything. No matter how we try, we may never be all we want to be, and people around us will ALWAYS be more successful, get better chances, be luckier, and more clever.

And yet it seems some people just don't see it or accept it.

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Postby Craig Browning » Mon Nov 20, 2006 2:39 pm

Very politically proper Siege :wink:

Fortunately I've never prided myself on being politically or socially correct, nor am I out to create a some kind of fan club (though I seem to have a rather large one that is suprisingly made up of younger people more than the older guys.)

I don't deny having an ego but I also know that I earned it and yes, there are times I exploit it for the sake of getting a point across... in this case, I'm talking fact about what I do in my life and my world... I help create the magic that the majority of folks goo and ga over. I'm proud of the fact that this is what I do in that I feel it is an important aspect of the evolutionary process associated with this craft. Creating for the sake of creating and to get one's name in print or to place on your resume that you published this or that ebook and this or that variation of someone else's trick when you were 12... sorry, that's rarely ever productive or seen as "impressive" in most people's books. In fact, few extend any sense of genuine respect to those that publish eBooks (a lesson I've learned of late) because they still are not viewed as being a "quality" product but rather, a masturbative excercise for most.

Of course there are exceptions to that rule (Cassidy for an example) but let's face it, we have nearly 100 ebooks put out monthly it seems, and 99.5 of them have been produced by persons that have NO experience working in the real world doing magic, breaking in and proving their material, etc. Anyone that beleives otherwise simply is not paying attention to what's being produced or by whom.

I've been accused several times in the past week or so of being "Elitist"... I'll assume that's one of the new buzz terms making the rounds in that it's a sudden trend that people are using when it comes to dealing with ideas and issues they don't want to deal with or consider (typically in that it goes against their personal agenda). But when it comes to standing up and saying what everyone whispers about in complaint but won't say in these forums or at a club meeting due to the Politically Incorrect nature of it... well... I guess I'm the paddle-boy, that rude Irish-American that shoots his mouth off loudly in the hopes that the sh*te that comes out sticks here and there, fertlizing a few young minds so that the quality of magic might be preserved in some way along side the older ways and traditions so many now wish to sweep under a rug under the label of progress and change.

Not all change is for the better and some allowed acts of transmutation, especially when undisciplined, can result in unreversible loss.

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Postby Charles Calthrop » Mon Nov 20, 2006 2:58 pm

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Last edited by Charles Calthrop on Mon Nov 20, 2006 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
What you call heroism is just an expression of this fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots
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Postby seige » Mon Nov 20, 2006 3:00 pm

Craig

In all fairness, I wasn't aiming everything I said soley at yourself—even if it seemed that way.

I personally find great value in your writing, and I'd hate to see you change or compromise—which I know, of course, you never would.

I agree on many levels that experience and knowledge give credibility. But not always true—take Mozart, for example. Composing music at the age of 5.

Again, I would say there is sometimes more than pure black and white—there are very much grey areas which are don't fall inside the regular rule set. However—I agree that it is sometimes utterly disgusting that the 'uninitiated' lay claim to genius. It's a personal pet-hate of mine too.

Elitism isn't a new buzz word at all. But merely suggests that because of your shouting and grunting, we're supposed to assume that what you say is right, which, of course, 99.42r2% of the time is the case ;)

However—I am afraid that views on such matters are futile, impure belching forth of 'wisdom' of the bedroom capitalist is upon us. And there's nothing we can, any of us, do about it except ignore it or live with it.

It saddens me greatly that you don't deny having an ego, by the way—that's purely egotistical in itself! :D

Craig, keep up the good work. Please.

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Postby johntheblob » Mon Nov 20, 2006 6:30 pm

This is the best sticky ever! Thanks for laying down the law!

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Postby copyright » Mon Nov 20, 2006 9:54 pm

What you're saying Craig is that some kids think they've invented some new idea in magic and then release the ideas in ebook form which some guy buys only to discover he's wasted his money.

Then there are PROFESSIONALS who spend a year or more testing a new idea and checking with others to make sure no-one is going to bitch about them on some petty issue when it's released.

Isn't there a middle ground of people who perform magic informally (the majority of people buying magic) and who come up with a new way of doing something, discover it works and then write it up as an ebook or self-publish hard copies?

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Postby Craig Browning » Mon Nov 20, 2006 10:43 pm

You're over-simplifying what I'm saying and looking for the "out" ... the famed loop-hole through which you can jump and break the mold.

If you go back and actually read (vs. skim) what is said you will see that I am saying TAKE YOUR TIME, GET SOME EXPERIENCE AND STOP CHASING THE GOLD RING.

It is better to build slowly and make certain everything is in the right place than to have to go back and not only overcome your mistakes for being rash and rushed, but having those same mistakes (issues) resurface time and again in your life like a hangnail, tormenting and tarnishing your image all the way.

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Postby copyright » Mon Nov 20, 2006 11:44 pm

I read through your post several times Craig.

TAKE YOUR TIME, GET SOME EXPERIENCE AND STOP CHASING THE GOLD RING.


>> What you're saying Craig is that some kids think they've invented some new idea in magic and then release the ideas in ebook form which some guy buys only to discover he's wasted his money.

These kids aren't taking their time or getting experience. They are 'chasing the gold ring'.

>>Then there are PROFESSIONALS who spend a year or more testing a new idea and checking with others to make sure no-one is going to bitch about them on some petty issue when it's released.

These professionals have taken their time and continue to take their time. They are not 'chasing the gold ring'.

>>Isn't there a middle ground of people who perform magic informally (the majority of people buying magic) and who come up with a new way of doing something, discover it works and then write it up as an ebook or self-publish hard copies?

These people are not necessarily taking their time or necessarily rushing. They may or may not be 'chasing the golden ring'.

I'm not trying to over-simplify what you've got to say it's just appears that way because you over-complicated the idea.

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Postby Craig Browning » Tue Nov 21, 2006 5:14 am

:roll: Whatever, I've gotten to old and tired of trying to debate things with people. I share what's been shared here and elsewhere based on both, my experience and the feedback I hear when talking to my peers. From what WE have seen, what I've outlined is what works for the greater majority of folks.

Yes, as I stated, there are those that are exceptions to the rule. Such "prodigee" types are however, the exception and not the example or rule by which folks should strive to mimic or emmulate in that such things are very, very rare and depend greatly not just in one's talent and perspectives but sharing said traits at the right time in front of the right people so that door can be opened and the path paved. NO ONE does it alone and just because you know or are close to persons of position, doesn't grant you instant success (in many cases such positions of friendship can actually give you ever greater challenges vs ease in endorsement, just ask John Carney or Bill Malone...)

Anywho... it is what it is... do as thou wilst...

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Postby MagicIain » Tue Nov 21, 2006 1:50 pm

copyright wrote:>>Isn't there a middle ground of people who perform magic informally (the majority of people buying magic) and who come up with a new way of doing something, discover it works and then write it up as an ebook or self-publish hard copies?

These people are not necessarily taking their time or necessarily rushing. They may or may not be 'chasing the golden ring'.

I'm not trying to over-simplify what you've got to say it's just appears that way because you over-complicated the idea.


Maybe these are the "Medium-Sized Boys".

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Postby copyright » Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:09 pm

What happened to my previous post :?

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Postby Kolisar » Wed Nov 22, 2006 2:25 am

Craig,

Thanks for the post. It is very well put and probably should be required reading after the rules for new members.

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