He’s one of my favorites. I’ve told him a million times and he still doesn’t believe me but I don’t care. Here’s why – he’s brilliant. When he really gets down to the truth of his words there is this spark, this glimmer of unrequited passion and truth and just — ah!
I had the pleasure of first meeting him while getting my MFA. And it was a pleasure. You meet so many characters while earning a higher degree (especially a creative art form) and my writing has grown since working with him those few class exercises we collaborated on. He is one of my champions and I am one of his – not just because he is a solid, good person but because his writing speaks for itself. His screenplay that he wrote under his MFA and is now (wink, wink) editing is brilliant and if it doesn’t win some award at a film festival I’d die of shock.
And now that I’ve filled his head with truths and yours with words that must be proved, I am happy to introduce to you my dear writing friend – M.S. – who is here to express the furies, doubts, and frustrations that encompass what it means to be a writer. Oh, and it’s not for the faint of heart who might hiccup or stir at strong language.
I Am Writer, Hear Me Roar
Guest Blogger: M.S.
So someone really smart and iconic (Lincoln, Twain, or Manson) said, and I’m paraphrasing of course:
It’s better to shut your mouth and be thought of as an idiot than to open your ugly mug and remove any doubt.
While I completely agree with this statement and realize I’ve never written a bad blog, because I’ve never tried before. I’ve never had bad Malaysian Food, because I’ve never eaten it. Or I’ve never had a really really bad breakup, because I’m petrified of being vulnerable so I usually end the thing before it grows into an extra appendage that’s as useful as wisdom teeth or an appendix.
But I guess as much as I respect the above quote, I’ve let it keep me quiet one too many times. I definitely don’t consider myself a fool, idiot or insert synonym. Admittedly, humility is something I’m working at. It’s frustrating, because I am talented, so fuck it. I have a voice. I’m loud, let me be heard dammit. But there are so many great writers who will never be published, who will abandon their talent to take a job as a night manager at a copy shop to pay for the wife they never wanted, who is currently incubating their seed they intended to be long wrapped in latex and dropped down a toilet to be flushed.
There are even writers, many I graduated with, who are so talented it’s absolutely sickening. You vow you will never read your jumbled mess of weepy dialogue and run-on sentences to this Wunderkind. He doesn’t try, barely makes it to class, but writes sentences capable of causing a movement to be named after him. You can’t help feeling inferior to a real-live prodigy. Setting him safely aside on the ivory-tower you hoped would hold your fat ass at some point. But the cards have been dealt. You’ll have to settle on being second best.
Realistically, the word best will be accompanied by a much lower number. You don’t have the chops, quit while you’re ahead. But then you realize this prodigy with a Gandolfian command over the English language is purebred asshole. 100% fucktard. First generation douche bag. And then something starts to bubble inside of you; like you’ve swallowed a box of half-dissolved Zantac tablets.
You feel effervescent, and light on your feet at the exact moment your arch-nemisis is weak to more than just kryptonite. He is socially awkward. He is on the verge of being sent to military school. He alienates both potential clients and confidents, because he doesn’t understand how to communicate. He wears bad sweater-vests and has a terribly uneven part in his hair.
Yes, my arch-nemesis is brilliant, but he’ll never get to share his talent with the world, because he’s a prick. You’ve known it from the start; but you also know that everyone is guilty of falling under the prick’s spell from time to time, it’s inevitable. Pricks are fun. The don’t give a fuck. They’re anti-establishment. They’re obsessed with existentialism and philosophy. They read Neitzsche for fun. They mimic his “God is dead” sentiment without a sliver of irony.
Pricks are cool.
But then the strangest thing happens to us collectively. The novelty wears off and you’re left staring at the mirror, hand to mouth in a state of shock. You realize you’ve spent the better part of a year wallowing in self-doubt. It’s not quite an epiphany. We realize that we’ve fallen under the prick’s spell and can’t help but feel shocked when he turns out to be a prick. The spell lifts with a frantic immediacy and you suddenly feel bad for the prodigy. He’s suffocating in his own talent. The potential he’s been blessed with will wrap it’s sharp tentacles around him and he can’t think of a better way to go.
Make it quick, he thinks. Let me be. I won’t compromise.
And right before he surrenders completely you see a lost little boy inside him for a split second. You want to save him, but he won’t let that happen. Man down. But it’s not your problem. Not anymore. It’s equal parts invigorating and frightening when you realize whomever your “arch-nemesis” may be, has never been your biggest competition.
No friends, he was but a distraction. You slowly realize this over-arching problem may lead to the abandonment of your talent one day. This startling realization may become your background story and you will become just another cautionary tale. Everything starts to make sense even though it’s the one thing you’ve always dreaded the most.
You have been fighting since you got to school, but not against some wunderkind, against yourself. You may need to work a bit harder, but you realize that comparing yourself to somebody else, be it their/your successes to their/your failures is counterproductive and leads you right into the arms of certain disappointment. A disappointment that is dark and vile and something that will swallow you whole if you let it.
Naturals are born everyday, but it’s those that have to struggle with their God-given talent that can truly appreciate how lucky they are to have something they feel like they can call a skill, because they’ve worked at it.
And how the hell do we know the prick didn’t work at it too? We don’t. Maybe when he went on his “midnight walks” he really sat behind a big oak tree with his ratty notebook and re-wrote the same line of dialogue over and over.
The easy answer being: we do.
At least at first.
But if you’re feeling completely underwhelmed by life right now, cheer up, it means you’re doing something right. You might feel like you set unrealistic goals for yourself. Well, good. You should. Unless you’re happy with the path of talented author #1.
Why are you even here? Struggling for something you used to believe in so badly, stuck in a sea of quasi talented hopefuls. Go back to the farm. Diapers are cheaper. I’m sure Mom would love the company. I am in no way demonizing children or mocking the decision to start a family; but you have to realize you are capable of having both.
We will never fully understand what our favorite writer, director or actor had to wrestle with in their darkest moments, in the deep dark, when failure wasn’t an option. They’ve already achieved success and with success comes expectations. At least, until our day comes, we can find our voice without being criticized…
Sorry I just romanticized the Fame Game; my bad.
We will always be criticized and fundamentally be at the mercy of the studio execs, the suits, the money. But at least we can lay our heads on the flat, rotted pillow and realize we’ve done everything we can do.
We can actually look ourselves in the mirror and know when we say this statement we actually mean it. Work hard enough at anything and it’ll happen; somehow it’ll happen. It might not happen the way you’ve always seen it happening (shrouded with little gold men and lunching with Spielberg) but it’ll happen.
Just worry about doing consistently solid work.
Do it because you love it; or because it’s the only thing that makes sense; or because the thought of being another suit is insufferable.
Don’t lose the passion that brought you here in the first place. Worry about creating something you are proud of…you know, before the studio mandated rewrites which you’ll master eventually. Soon you’ll learn how to give them what they want without completely compromising your original vision.
The accolades will come, the moment you forget all about the spell that the little golden guy has cast.
See I told you, we all fall for the prick once or twice in our lives.