Monday, 21 September 2009
Play It Cool
Chatting with a few writer friends the other day about When Writers Go Bad. Not when writers lose it, in terms of ability, but when they lose it, in terms of self-control, and start firing off emails.
You can see how it happens. The writer is left alone to stew in their own devices. And then, after weeks, months of waiting, they get told that their script wasn’t quite what the producer was looking for, that it will have to be re-written, that it will have to be shorter, simpler, that it might even be easier to give up on it rather than waste any more time.
And the writer, who like all good passive aggressives has been conscientiously bottling up his emotions for months, detonates – and does what they do best, typing extremely rapidly and extremely heatedly, with their better judement obscured by a combination of red mist and, more likely than not, alcohol.
All weapons at their disposal will be used. Sarcasm. Irony. False modesty. They will accuse others of unprofessionalism even as their glass house shatters around them.
It’s something that can happen to even the best writers. ‘There but for the grace of god’ etc. Because writers are egomaniacs – you have to be – and many are sociopaths – but it’s not compulsory – and everyone has an end-of-tether threshold. I’ve written before about the frustration of silence.
But the trick is – and I speak from bitter experience – not to send that email. To give it a night’s sleep, swallow your pride, stick the cork back in the bottleneck, and remember that life’s too short to hold grudges. Because we all know about the cases of Writers Who Went Bad and who made themselves unemployable. That’s the lesson to be learned.
And don’t slag off people who have given you work on the internet. That’s the other one.