Quit Writing about Yourselves Writers!
Whenever I hear someone say they are a writer I normally groan silently to myself. If they start talking about what they write then the groan may become more audible. The thing that makes me just want to kill people though is when writers write about being writers and think that people give a fuck. I realize I am technically doing that right now, but I’m a blogger so you already knew that I’m not a real writer anyway. My only true talent is being able to simultaneously masturbate and comprehend new sabermetrics.
There are some great stories out there about writers, don’t get me wrong. Midnight in Paris was one of my favorite movies of the year. But the thing about that movie is, Woody Allen is allowed to do whatever he wants, including but not limited to underage incest. Living in LA you come across a lot of writers, good ones, bad ones, and crazy ones. It’s fun really, and all of them want you to read whatever they have written. I can dig that. I like it when people read my stuff so I try to pay it forward. The only thing is that lately I’ve come across a lot of writers writing about being writers.
My plea to all writers is: Fucking stop it. I hate when writers assume that the life of a writer is so interesting that everyone ever would want to hear about it. Writers have two functionalities in society. That is to make stories that are either A) relatable to people’s lives or B) to make a really kick ass story that allows people to live out a fantasy or gain some new perspective. A good writer will find ways to combine these.
One thing that is not relatable to anyone, other than writers, is a story about being a writer. If you are trying to appeal to that audience then you better already be very established in that community i.e. Woody Allen, because writers are hypercritical. I’ve come across several instances of novices writing about being writers. I’m not going to name names here but I’ll explain the “stories.”
The first was a movie that was shot and made by people back in Columbia MO. The main character wasn’t a writer, I don’t think, but a supporting role was and that character played a prominent part in this movie. I hate to talk bad about this movie, not because I like it, I don’t, I thought it was an awful attempt at humor, but because everyone from Columbia seems to love it. Columbia is desperate for some famous people and something to brag about, but this movie is nothing to be proud of at all.
The second and third instances were student films by classmates of mine at Mizzou’s film school. The first was by another one of these beloved Columbians, a comedian who I guess has had moderate success in that scene. The thing in question though was just so unoriginal and boring, about a group of slacker friends and blah blah blah you get where that shit is going. The main friend however wanted to be a screenwriter and that’s what the short film revolved around. Now it’s possible that I hated this piece because one of the stars (I use that term as loosely as possible) was one of the bigger douches I’ve ever met in my life. Someone who got a little attention and recognition early on in a local paper and thought he was the shit ever since. You may think every kid in film school was like this but he took it to an extreme. He had a fucking entourage after having a said newspaper article written about his comedy and thought his Twitter account was the word of God.
The last was another student from Mizzou’s film school that revolved around a 35 year old writer who once had some success but was now suffering from a severe case of writers block and depression. We’ve all seen this movie in one form or another. However when you see it from the perspective of someone who has no perspective on that particular lifestyle (someone who is 22 and not an established writer) it takes it to a whole new level of suck. He was writing his own Adaptation, which, considering he was 22, is the equivalent of Glee’s best fanfiction writer penning City of God.
These three films taught me something. It sucks to be a writer. Not because it’s hard, although it is, but because you so often have to prove you’re not a douche. It’s a difficult task unfairly thrust upon writers because so many of their colleagues are, in fact, epic douche bags. Writers writing about being writers is not a new, creative concept, and someone telling you they’re a writer doesn’t make them creative.
Jesse Eisenberg put it best in the DVD commentary of the movie The Social Network:
“You don’t have to have a creative job to be creative. There can be a creative plumber if he is doing his job in a creative way. Someone with a job people conceive to be creative, like an actor, might not be creative at all if they are doing it in a non creative way.”
That’s paraphrased and probably completely misquoted but fuck you for double checking my work, he said it dammit! If you are a writer and are writing about being a writer, I have bad news for you: Your idea is not original or creative. It’s as if you were trying to think of an idea and thought, “Hey I know what’ll be interesting to everyone, if I write about myself! Everyone says I’m interesting anyway!” I’d rather watch a movie about a child prostitute, those movies usually win awards, so maybe all you writers should get on that idea. No one gets tired of baby hookers, ever.