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Fires that burn, fires that cleanse...

Funny how I'm writing about fires here instead of in Bonfire, where this kind of musing should usually go, we are.

So, when did I forget how to be excited over anything?

Permit me to digress a moment.

I'm sure it's obvious by now I was a gifted child. The signs are obvious - bitter, neurotic, unemployed - but along with all that comes the expectation that great things come naturally to you. And they do. You're smart, you're creative, you're grooving, baby. 

But there's a downside to being smart enough to coast through school: there's no struggle instilled in you. There's nothing to fight for, because it all comes easy. Therefore, if it doesn't come easy, it's not worth it.

Yes, it is circular logic. Yes, it is immature and unrealistic. But you're talking to a guy who scored a 5 on the AP Calculus exam without trying. You're talking to a guy who had his college education handed to him because he scored high enough on the PSAT to become a Merit Scholar. You're talking to an upper-middle-class white Jewish kid who managed to whine and scream his way out of most household chores. You're talking to, in other words, a spoiled brat with a genius-level IQ and no motivation to do anything.

Which is distressing, because I'm supposed to be a filmmaker and a screenwriter. I mean, that's what I really want to do. I love making movies. I love the act of creating a world, of creating characters, plots, things, events out of thin air. I love realizing my writing on film. I love editing, I love filming, I love it all, I love making films.

But for the last year, my drive to sit down and write a screenplay has been gone. Kaput. Nothing to be found.

At first I didn't notice. Then, when I did, I called it a dry spell. Then I blamed my financial situation, or Lena, or the water supply, or whatever. Then I stopped blaming and started rationalizing. The Muse hasn't kissed me. And I'd better concentrate on other things. And look, PlayStation and N64 and the World Wide Web...

And last night, I couldn't take it anymore. I was futzing around on Photoshop, experimenting, learning, seeing what I could do. I pulled up WordPerfect. Stared at it. Shut the computer off. 

After a lengthy discussion with John, I finally realized what was wrong.

If you're a friend of mine, you've heard me talk about Paul Revere. It's my screenplay - my first screenplay ever. It's my baby. I love this screenplay. I put so much into this. For the first time in my life, I didn't do this half-assed. I didn't goof off and do it at the last minute. I put everything I had into making this screenplay the absolute best thing I could create. And when it was finished, I got an A in class and Geller the Magnificent proclaimed it wonderful and it got sent into the Writers' Guild Scenario contest...

...and it didn't make the finals of the Scenario competition and one agent said it reminded him of Friends and magical movie agents from Hollywoodland didn't fly out of the sky on little angel wings and give me a big bag of money for my work.


You know, once you look at neuroses, patterns of behavior, and useless paradigms, it all looks rather stupid, doesn't it?

I did the creative equivalent of taking my Tonka Trucks and going home. Ever since then, ever since something didn't materialize right then and there, ever since I realized I might have to actually strive and work to accomplish what I want - which, if you'll remember, I've never had to do before - I haven't done jack shit. Because people didn't fall on their knees and worship me for writing this amazing screenplay. Because when I coast I get congratulations and when I bust my ass I get squat. Because I poured so much into this 117-page opus of mine that I was offended and disheartened when the world didn't jump to make this film.

And the thing is, this behavior pattern - coasting, never really doing anything because it'll all work out in the end, I'll just throw something together at the last minute - underscores my entire life. It's caused so many problems for me in my life. I continually sabotage my own success because I refuse to take any action.

I gotta break this cycle. I gotta get this stupid glad-handed honors-class temp-job khaki-wearing monkey off my fucking back and soon. Although I think that recognizing it's there is a good first step.

Wow. That's about as revelatory as I've ever gotten in a public forum. Soon I'll be broadcasting my life over the Web.

-- sjc