Saturday, November 05, 2005

It's alright, son, we've known for years.

When I'm procrastinating, occasionally I'll troll the sites of aspiring screenwriters and wonder, "why, exactly, do you want to do this?"

It's a question that's so important. And I'm not sure it's one that's answered truthfully or honestly very often.

Denis McGrath, always with the encouragement.

I don’t want to do this. Really, I never looked at career options and thought “hey, yeah, writer; big bucks, and bed all day.” I knew that even if I really made a commitment and went for it, it could take years before I made a sale. I’d have to spend who knows how long making no kind of money whatsoever, hoping for that one opportunity that would make it all worthwhile. I’m not prepared to take those kind of risks. I want a steady job, and regular pay, and a career that’s not tied directly to my self-esteem.

Because, for one thing, I hate letting people read my work. As soon as I see it in someone else’s hands, my nuts shrivel up and my guts turn to mud.

I hate it. It’s not what I want to be.

But I keep having these dirty little thoughts. I read a story in a paper and think “there could be a script there, if it was set in the fifties, and he was an animal welfare advocate.” I can’t see a blank piece of paper without thinking “maybe just a line or two - if I’m quick and I’m careful I won’t get hurt.”

It’s disgusting.

But denying it is just eating me up. I’ve spent eight years avoiding writing and taking jobs that bring me no satisfaction at all. My life has suffered because of it. When I meet people I’m an account executive dabbling with a script, not a writer with a day job. I lie about who I am. I don't talk to people any more. I’m a tightly wound coil of repression. When I go off, someone’s going to lose an eye.

I’ve tried to hide it, to live a normal life, but the truth is, nothing else makes me happy.

Mum, Dad, everyone, I think I’m a writer.

Category: Writing


  1. See! It is a common thing.

    I thought it was.

    I tried being a TV producer. I started out writing plays for Fringe Festivals. It'll just be a sideline. Then, I actually got to write a bit in my job. But it was only a bit. It was like being forced to exist on a methadone drip when you wanted the smack, pronto.

    Eventually, the fear of "what if it doesn't work out" is replaced by the knowledge that if you don't do it, You're going to go insane.

    I've already taught two students who right now is a way more important and successful writer than I am. And I think a woman I taught is about to become success number three.

    Luckily, the normal schadenfreude you feel when anyone else succeeds is blunted by the general fondness I have for my students.

  2. Bloody hell, that was quick!

    Yeah, I was getting along fine with not doing anything, until I was asked to start writing half our Society newsletter. All of a sudden, I've got my feet on the desk, fag in my mouth, faking an estuary accent and acting like the editor of the Daily Star.

    It was start.