I create context. I also write blog posts:

You Don't Have It

Posted: August 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

About a week and a half ago, I received one of those soul-crushing, heart-wrenching, cliche-enticing rejection letters that come so frequently when you enter things you’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears — or, in my case, over a year of hard work — into something you’re proud of. Not so much with the blood or sweat or tears for me, I’ll grant you, but quite a bit of red wine and concentration, and hey, maybe even a little sweat (I wrote quite a few pages sitting in my boxers in a hot apartment in Los Angeles). And it was a fairly personal script. I don’t know how anybody else writes, but I write about my own experiences, blanketed in the veil of another world, of course (to avoid offending nearly everyone I know), and for those experiences to be outright rejected hurt quite a bit.

And it was tough, and I’ve gone through some ups and downs since then — throwing away whole pages of dialogue, reworking entire acts, and even an erection lasting more than four hours; basically, just the stuff everyone goes through — and I’m still grappling with the “what does this mean” question that needs to be answered soon. Does it mean I suck and I should try selling insurance for a bit? Hopefully not. Does it mean that the reader was just the one asshole in the world that didn’t like my rose-smelling shit? Eh, as much as I’d like to believe it, probably not that either. It’s been a long week and a half for me, I won’t lie, and at points I’ve considered myself to be in a sort of “fragile” place when it comes to confidence and my ability to write and even my desire to write.

The key for me has been finding a balance, in getting to the heart of things. My script was rejected. Okay, nothing I can do about that. Do I think it was good? Yes. I love the damned thing. But to be honest with myself, was it the next Casablanca? No. There were parts that could stand to be improved, and frankly, if I wasn’t so completely burned out on it that I wanted to shred it even before the contest, I’d have to say that the whole thing could stand to be rewritten, every word of it. But that doesn’t mean it was bad. I think it just hasn’t reached its full potential. It’s probably never going to get there, either, because I’ve moved on and I’m working on something new.

I keep trying to tell myself that this next script is going to blow minds, change the world, and most of all, make that asshole reader cry himself to sleep.

It’s probably not going to do any of those things. In fact, as I’m staring at it now, it’s not going to do anything. It’s still just an outline, and even that’s a charitable way of describing it. It’s more a series of notes, of a bunch of “hey, this scene should happen at some point” sketches. And I’m anxious to get it into better shape, to reach in and squeeze it all through my fingers and mold it into something that I’m proud of, the way I would a good meatloaf.

That’s hard to do. I keep trying to rush myself, looking over my list of random scenes and saying “yeah, I can go with this!” And then I sit down to actually put pen to paper, and nothing comes. Why can’t I get started? Why isn’t it just flowing the way it normally does? Write it all down, the good stuff and the shit, and edit it later, I tell myself. But there’s nothing to write.

I think it’s because I’m gun-shy in the wake of the dreaded rejection. I think it’s because I’m worried about writing well. And that shouldn’t be what I’m worried about. I should just be trying to get the words on the paper.

And then the voice in my head that’s typically the logical one — it sounds like Jon Hamm — steps in to comfort me… sorta. “It’s not that you can’t write,” it (he) says. “You just don’t have it yet.”

And I’m brought back down to Earth again. “Yes, of course!”, the other voice — it sounds like what I think my voice sounds like — says, “it’s not that I can’t write right now because I suck at writing, it’s that I can’t write right now because it’s not ready to be written.” It’s back to the drawing board, retooling my outline, padding it where I can, and then putting it in order again. And then repeating the whole process.

Because, right now, I don’t have it.

Picture courtesy of moviestorm.blogspot.com.

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2 Comments on “You Don't Have It”

  1. 1 Nick Shein said at 7:38 pm on August 4th, 2010:

    Honey? You have it.

    It’s in there, maybe buried, maybe bricked up like that poor fellow in The Cask of Amontillado (“The thousand injuries of Fortunado I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge”) but it’s in there.

    Rejections suck; it’s not to take away from the suckiness of your rejection. And, honestly, I don’t know how I pick myself up and dust myself off after the particularly crushing ones, so I have no good concrete advice–except, well, you just do. Sit down and write something else, maybe (like a blog post, or another brilliant two-pager).

    Have you thought about doing some prompts/writing exercises just to get things flowing again? That’s about as concrete as I can get right now, except to tell you that yes, you have it.

    Hugs, cheers, etc.

  2. 2 don said at 10:11 pm on August 4th, 2010:


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