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Sunday, 21 March 2010

This is Ourselves Under Pressure

She says it's only in my head,
I said "I know, I know it's only in my head."
-Counting Crows

There was this time in school when my interests went down a different road to my friends. I didn't notice it for years, then it suddenly started to be very apparent. They went to bars and got drunk, I went to my room and watched Billy Wilder movies on repeat. It seemed a bit strange at the time -- but it was the most natural of things. I was becoming who I am; the film guy. It's weird to look now; to think back to those times. It's weird how my coming out so strongly in favor of my passions; I could get weirdly marginalized by that. "So what movies do you like?" - my answers were not that kind that guys respected, and definitely not the kind that interested girls. It's strange because; years later-- that same feeling of being different, dare I say being a bit marginalized still comes through. Just the other day I got a ride home from this girl I've known for years; since we were kids in fact. And she asked me, "so where do you go out with your friends?" The correct answer being a list of particular clubs and bars that hit the cool list. I don't hit the cool list, I don't even know the cool list anymore. My friends and I, we go to see movies, or we go for drive arounds in cars, or we board planes and head to Poland or some place. Now of course, I find those things pretty cool - but in front of a twentysomething girl in the place I'm from-- those things don't resonate as cool. My responses were met with an awkward 'what? really?', followed by silence. I know that silence.

I should state right now that, when I used the word 'marginalized,' it's a bit silly. In the history of people in the world being marginalized; 'film loving young people' are one of the less important. But thinking about it right now -- I realize it's played a big part in my life. It plays a big part in a lot of people's lives. It's HARD to stand up and say "I don't know that movie," "I am going to earn a living being creative," "I love ABBA." (I don't actually love ABBA, but interestingly; felt the need to clarify that in brackets-- I'm even marginalized within myself; haha.)

It's hard to be what you want to be in life. In fact; rather than a generalization - let me talk about me: I find it hard to be me, in my life. I find it hard to write, hard to create, hard to be comfortable in what I do around people. I have complete and utter belief in my tastes, in my creative instincts, and in everything that entails -- but I get this nagging feeling sometimes that, until I get a million dollar pay cheque and a giant premiere, they aren't quite justified. This feeling didn't originate in me -- it's larger than that. It's a part of the world somehow. What I mean, is that-- in a success-oriented society, in a world that expects a hard day's work in the office -- the creative process and its journey ARE marginalized; they are seen as less than; and they're only given respect when they get reported on an entertainment show, or when Brad Pitt comes to your Premiere.

But then - as I write all this; I feel a bit like an insane paranoid. I think, when I was 16; I had to come across this attitude a lot: What do you really want to do? How will you ever make money? Why are you listening to Bruce Springsteen? Why are you watching that show on repeat? How long are you going to keep this up?. Now that definitely WAS real: but now, I feel it so strongly in my head sometimes--- I feel like the only thing stopping me from writing a screenplay that will change the world is this inner voice that says all the things everybody else said when I was 16; it causes this pressure so intense that I have no idea how to explain it.

I have played this character, you could say; and I've been doing it for many, many years- and the character is: Mr. I-am-talented-I-know-what-I'm-doing-I-am-who-I-am. This part of me, he does a lot of projects, he always knows where he is going, and he is expected to succeed. And in any given moment, if his definition of success hasn't been reached.. then he keeps working at it day after day, moment after moment.

So when I talk to some old school friend who says "what are you up to?", then Mr. I-am-talented-I-know-what-I'm-doing-I-am-who-I-am thinks "fuck, I'm not Spielberg yet. Come on; create, create, create!" ---- the voice comes out every time I take a job that isn't, y'know, the big dream; in fact; I even find movies hard to watch because a movie is a message that 'somebody wrote and directed me; and it isn't you, loser.' And talking of being marginalized; it's the 'Kid In The Front Row' part of me that gets pushed down by Mr. I-am-talented-I-know-what-I'm-doing-I-am-who-I-am. 'Mr I Am' says: "I need to create a project, I need to achieve, I need to get this career in gear!" 'Mr Kid..' says "I love movies! I love Chaplin! Ooh, I'm going to write something delightfully funny!"

I wanted to speak up about this because; every time someone accuses me of 'sitting around all day watching movies,' or of 'not having a real job' or any of those things; they should realize, they don't need to criticise me; I'm on it. I have so much I am determined to achieve; to the point that I find it hard to enjoy a good book, or a computer game, or a walk in the park; because I don't feel I have earned the privilege.

This crazy pressure is a little insane, but I would imagine it's something many people can relate to. This voice tends to get crunched up and hidden inside your head; hidden inside lines like "I am currently working on six scripts!" or "I had nine auditions today!" --- in fact; every Facebook status that says "I had my fitting today; can't wait for next week's shoot!" is someone saying "LOOK, I'M TRYING. I'M DOING EVERYTHING. I'M GETTING THERE! CUT ME SOME SLACK!"
I guess I want everyone who's ever knocked a creative person's efforts; I guess I want them to read this.. it might help them realize that, in all actuality- we're all working really hard. And for all you creative souls, I hope this helps you to see that, when the world beats you up and when you beat yourself up----- you're not alone. I'm working just as hard as you, I'm just as tired as you, and I'm here for you.

"We busted out of class had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three minute record baby
Than we ever learned in school
Tonight I hear the neighborhood drummer sound
I can feel my heart begin to pound
You say you're tired and you just want to close your eyes
And follow your dreams down"

Care to share?


  1. I got a lot from this. Not only can i relate to what your describing, but I think i have been on 'both sides' at different times of my life. On reflection, i know which side i am happier on. And thats the 'marginalised' side. And i doubt we are alone either...

  2. great post. it made me reflect on how i am relative to my peers.

  3. Wow, this was really moving. I can relate to almost everything you wrote, and I'm so glad you took the time to write about these feelings.

  4. What an honest post. I am not as creative but have a hard time fitting into the "real" world sometimes. I was just considered the odd ball of the family.

  5. When faced with the skeptics to my creative desires, the pressure to prove myself with a large check manifests itself in that pressure you spoke of-my mind starts to whir in overdrive, my chest starts to tighten, my legs feel fidgety, then I can't breathe because I know I can do it, but I haven't yet and it's so hard to go against the stream. To slip along into the norm would be so easy, but we can't because that same feeling would manifest itself again.
    Writers are notoriously self deprecating, which, to me, is the true mark of talented human being. Knowing we're all in it together is grand... Thanks for gathering all of us odd balls and black sheep in one place to encourage one another.

  6. Hey Kid,

    There is a good chance that the girl who asked "Where do you hang out these days" has a thing for you, and maybe she doesnt come out with it because her inner voice is telling her its not cool to like the "Film Geek", when in reality its your undoubted uniqueness and talent that draws her and no doubt many other girls to you.

    I am not so much a creative type but very much appreciate what you are saying and applaud your open and personal words. But please do take time out of what is probably a hectic day for you whether it be out working on a project or sitting at home trying to get away from it and put into context all the great things you do.

    You have clearly been struggling to a point to write a script, yet write so eloquently and humurously as Kid that I know you are so close to letting the words that will mark your future flow - As the Beatles once said... "Let it be".

    One last thing, when someone shows an interest in you be proud, Spielberg hasnt written a script a day for 30 years he's done it when the time is right, and if you look at it in that sense I am sure his ratio of scripts per day over the last 30 years or so has been pretty poor.... ;-) I am sure you have many other irons in the fire so when asked what you're upto just say "Really trying to get a few scripts out but its just not happening at the minute, but I am flat out elsewhere helping a group of old ladies film a documentary and also have an award winning blog".

    Keep it up Kid, if you dont achieve your goals then nobody will.... I love your work!


  7. Anonymous - thank you so much, what you've written is wonderful. Who are you? I'd love to know!

    "that draws her and no doubt many other girls to you" - I wish this part was true!

  8. Oh kid, what words you have written here, so poignant; it made me go quiet, and cry a bit; someone recently told me to get an administration job; it's consistent, script writing is not.

    I think if I did that, something inside of me would wither a bit. hugs.