“I’m a writer.”
Those words strike fear into my heart.
Not when I say it, when I hear it from someone else. I get this sudden chill as the doubts run through me:
“Shit. He’s a writer, a proper writer. I bet he’s studied and everything. He’s going to find me out. He’s going to talk to me for two seconds and realise I don’t know shit, haven’t got a clue. He’s going to mention some clever writing term I don’t understand and expose me for the fraud I am.”
Panic sets in, my breath grows ragged, my palms start to sweat, I make really bad jokes – I can’t bear this.
Then, somewhere among the rapid-fire stream of bullshit flowing from my nervous mouth is a gap and this ‘writer’ gets the chance to say something, and I realise …
it’s okay, he’s a twat.
He doesn’t know shit. Sometimes I get as far as reading something someone else has written before coming to the same conclusion and I remember the truth of the situation:
99% of writers can’t write.*
But hey, that’s okay because 99% of actors can’t act. I’m not experienced enough to draw the same conclusion about directors or producers, but I’m betting it’s about the same.
I’ve sat there with writers, who ask questions which are the equivalent of a mechanic asking “Is this the engine?”, and realised why so much shit gets made.
And I’m not talking about the shit which makes it to the screens, that’s the cream of the crap river which spills out of the movie industry. Even the stuff which makes it to DVD is a small portion of the total number of badly filmed turds which do the rounds.
The worst films? Usually from people who are writer/director/producers – one guy who can’t do three jobs and there’s no one there to tell him. I used to wonder why nobody speaks up, why don’t people stop these fucking appalling travesties getting made?
Sometimes it’s because they still get paid whether it’s good or not, but I think it’s mostly because no one knows any better. Even when a film’s made I hear the people involved raving on about how wonderful their masterpiece is.
It’s not, it’s shit.
Which is why I really like working with people who can:
- Confidently tell others their last project was shit
- Explain why it was shit
- Tell me what’s shit about what I’ve just handed them
These are the people I want to work with, honest people who know their limitations and want to improve themselves. With one or two exceptions*, I’ve been very lucky.
Now come on, own up. How many of you reading this think you’re in the 1%?
I like to think I’m a good writer, but then I like to think I’m smart, good looking and still young enough to be ‘with it’.
If I was I wouldn’t use words like ‘with it’.
Still, I know my limitations – I just wish I could shake that sudden rush of anxiety I get when I meet other writers. After all, 99% of us are all wallowing in the same mud.
* Rest assured, I’m not counting myself in the 1% who can.
* I’d like to think you know who you are, but you probably don’t