God, And Other Bad Career Choices

If you came here looking for an update on Joe, our screenwriting guinea pig, you're out of luck. His phone has been disconnected, and donuts left at his door have gone uneaten. I do have people checking mental wards hunting him down, but in the meantime, I wanted to take a look at the genesis of a screenwriter.

No kid starts out wanting to be a screenwriter. An astronaut, yeah. A doctor, sure. A movie star, why not. Even a director in diapers. But a screenwriter? Nope.

That's because screenwriting isn't one of the glamorous jobs. Firemen get to climb ladders and wear a big shiny hat, but what do screenwriters get? A keyboard. And anyone over the age of two seems to have one of those these days. Which is precisely why everyone thinks they are qualified to write a script.

No more, I say! It's time to glam up the screenwriter image and shine a spotlight on just how hard it really is.

Screenwriting, it's not brain surgery. It's harder.

A brain surgeon starts out as a kid with decent grades who doesn't faint at the sight of blood, and likes to play doctor with the girl down the road. He or she graduates with a high enough GPA to get into a decent post-secondary situation (either through smarts or parents with big pockets) and puts the ole' nose to the grindstone for a few years in order to squeeze into medical school. If he can handle the twisted initiation rites years of residency, where he diagnoses poor schmucks under severely sleep deprived conditions without actually killing somebody in a way that would leave the hospital liable, someone in authority will eventually let this kid cut into someone's brain, and they'll be bringing home a nice payday by the time they're 30. And this is true even if the schmuck graduated in the bottom of their class. (Remember that last bit the next time you need brain surgery, and picture those bottom-of-the-class nose picking, paste-eating morons that beat you up regularly, and pulled your pants down in front of your sixth grade crush. That's the guy cutting into your skull.)

Yep, brain surgeon. It's a pretty straight line from start to finish. When six-year-old Johnny announces to the world that he wants to be a brain surgeon, everyone, and I do mean everyone from his doting parents to the strange old lady in the grocery store who smells vaguely of fried chicken, rally to support him. "What a smart boy you are!"

Not so with the screenwriter. When little Richie announces to the world that he wants to write movies, everyone gets very quiet (unless, of course, he comes from a family of artists who have already done more than their share of hallucinogens forged the way). Behind closed door whispers of, "Let's pray he'll grow out of it," or, "He's gonna turn out just like your junkie cousin!," will haunt him. Therapists will be called in, drugs will be tried. He'll learn to suppress his dream, and may waste a couple of years or decades doing something that makes him miserable before finally manning up.

Why is this?! Why does society encourage kids to saw open skulls for fun and profit, but goes out of its way to stomp out any desire to create?

One word. Fear.

A screenwriter isn't content to cut into people's brains and hold the power of life and death in his hands. A screenwriter wants more than that. A screenwriter wants to be God.

Who else creates entire new worlds from nothing, molds people more real and meaningful than 98% of the pathetic excuses for humans that walk the earth, and takes pleasure from destroying said worlds and torturing its inhabitants all for the sake of entertainment?! No one.

This scares the crap out of people; most of whom would rather live in a safe little box where cutting into a living brain is good but delving into the depths of hell the human condition in order to create something of beauty is bad. So they spew out stuff like, "Don't quit your day job," or, "There's no security in that. How are you gonna raise a family?"

Do you think God gives a flying frak about job security?

Be bold. Be brave. And if anyone gets in your way, write them into a script, then stomp the living hell out of them. Plague, STD, brain eating zombies -- whatever your twisted omnipotent mind desires.

Don't settle for playing God, when you can be God.




Cool and slightly disturbing image by country_boy_shane

7 comments:

  1. Great article! Spot on! I'm glad I discovered your blog and have bookmarked it. Yes, fear drives many away and that's okay. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to move forward in the face of fear! I only know and want the artist's life and was lucky my parents supported my filmmaking endeavors at a young age. "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." Amen. It's another day and we fill our blank pages.

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  2. Hey Scriptcat,

    I'm glad you liked it and you found your way to my little corner of the net. I'd attempt to craft a well written reply, but I seem to have been sucked into your blog, and plan to spend the next little while reading. Good stuff!

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  3. ... even more true when you consider, nobody likes to acknowledge the screenwriter even exists; the director, sure, but screenwriter? Who's that guy?

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  4. ... even more true when you consider, nobody likes to acknowledge the screenwriter even exists; the director, sure, but screenwriter? Who's that guy?

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  5. Pyro Joe,

    So true. I'm sure even God has trouble picking up drunk chicks at last call. Bet he pretends to be a fireman.

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  6. Just found your blog, and if this article is any sign, I think its going to be one I follow. I'm simply an 'aspiring screenwriter' for the moment, but I do love articles that give people encouragement. Pyro Joe certainly has a good point; everyone talks about Wes Craven when the movie Scream comes up, but I rarely hear 'Wonder what Kevin Williamson's doing now?' Not that I don't like how Craven makes the movies.

    But then again, I'm not looking for a writing scene where I have to be in a spotlight. Guess that makes me atypical of most people. If they had to choose taking backseat to a director or writing a book to become a best-seller, most would go for the major recognition choice.

    Not that I'm saying I think what I write would be 'best-seller' material. But I think most writers dream big, even if they recognize the likelihood of that not actually happening.

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  7. Hi Jonathan,

    I'm glad you found your way to my blog and got a little something out of it.

    All I can say is keep dreaming big. Those who do, find a way to make it happen.

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