Friday, June 12th, marked the finish of the filming of the Shannara TV show in New Zealand. With filming now complete, attention will be focused on editing and refining the various episodes of the first season and the telling of the story of The Elfstones of Shannara in video form.
I am left with mixed feelings.
On the one hand, I am greatly anticipating the adaptation. I love the cast; I think each inhabits the character they play. I am in awe of the sets, both indoors and out, which are so much better than I had any right to hope for. I think the writers have done an incredible job with turning the book into a TV series. I am pleased beyond words for the support given by the people at MTV. I am confident that readers are going to be pleasantly surprised with the result.
On the other, it feels like the end of something in my own life. This part is a little harder to explain; the correlation is not immediately recognizable. I’ve been writing the Shannara books for almost fifty years—started Sword when I was still in law school back in 1968. I have been published for almost forty of those years. That’s a lot of water under the bridge. In all that time, I was always the master of my own ship. The writing, the creative process, was always something I did alone. At the end, my editor was there to help straighten out the kinks. But at the end of the day everything was on me.
So now, all of a sudden, I am engaged in a project in which other people are doing the overwhelming majority of the work. I am an advisor but not much more. I must let go of my baby and trust that others will treat her kindly. I can do this, and I have. Mostly. But there is a feeling of loss in doing so. All the blood, sweat and tears, all the energy, can’t be recaptured in this new process. The creation is collaborative on so many levels, and everyone must work together for the common good. But not everyone agrees on what that common good is at every turn, and sometimes things get testy.
So I have to accept that I am not the guiding light or the one who makes the necessary decisions. I am just another voice providing ideas and sometimes advice or solutions and always encouragement. It is foreign to everything I have done in writing the books, and adjusting to this – no matter how enlightened and dedicated I tell myself to be – doesn’t come easily.
But the filming is complete and the series will soon air and time has moved on. Turning Elfstones into a TV show marks the end of an era for me. I am telling myself to celebrate this milestone, this change in the way my life works, this next step in the evolution of the Shannara world. I am always saying to my readers that once the books are finished, they belong to the readers. By the same token, they belong to a large extent, to those who adapt them into other forms. I have always felt that about the artwork and the graphic novels and such. Do I have any business feeling any different about this latest creative effort?
I don’t think so. I have to let it go. I have to let it be something more than it is. What I see now tells me it will be worth doing so. Others have a vision, too. Give them a chance to find out what they can do.
That’s what life is all about.