This week's Answer:
Jerome, I'm grateful that somebody like you went right
to the heart of things and asked this important question. It's
time somebody finally did. And I'd like to answer you,
but to do so would cause me far too much stress and I don't think I
can take the stress of being a script consultant anymore. I
asked my therapist about how I could handle this stress of being a
script consultant, trying to answer your e-mail about the stress of
being a screenwriter, but she told me that she couldn't help me
because she couldn't take anymore questions about the stress of being
a script consultant because it caused her too much stress.
It is a good question and, at the risk of stressing
myself out, I'll give it a try. Let me first acknowledge your
condition, Jerome. I'm validating your feelings, as my therapist
would say. She won't validate my parking ticket, but she'll
validate my feelings. How
does she expect me to stay calm and feel validated when she won't even
validate my G**d*** parking ticket!
But I digress. And I apologize if the above font
looks like letters clipped and pasted from magazines by a crazy
person. I wouldn't want you to get the idea that I'm not in
perfect control. I'm perfectly fine. All is well.
I've learned to embrace my feelings.
Even when I'm in the right and she's In
the wrong and should validate my parking ticket!
One thing I have
learned is... Sorry. One thing I have learned with
regards to stress
is that it doesn't help to pretend it's not there or to repress
it. It's much better to acknowledge and work with it and let it
teach you about yourself. It will show you where your
"buttons" are. buttons!
That's right! My dry cleaner lost a button from my best jacket
and they are going to replace it or I'm going to... Where was
I? Oh, yes. Stress can show you where you may be
vulnerable and, if you pay attention to stress, it will reveal what
you need to do to keep it at bay, to not take it in, to
kill it like the mangy dog that it is!
Screenwriting has its own distinct stresses that seem
to accompany the profession. There's the stress of the writing
itself. The stress of waiting for answers from producers.
The stress of negotiating for the best price for your
screenplays. The stress of finding an agent, a literary
manager. A therapist. And, even when you've sold some
scripts, there's the stress of possibly changing agents,
managers. Therapists. The stress of "Will I sell
another script?" can loom forever over your head like in
"The Pit and the Pendulum." (I'm not saying Hollywood
is the pits. I'd never say that. I might write it.
But I'd never say it.) Then there's the stress of "Sure
I've sold scripts, but will any of them become a blockbuster so I can
finally retire and move to my own private island so I can send a
Native American female to accept my Oscar?"
And there's the stress of being stressed. And
possibly the worst stress of all...
The stress of having no stress at all.
I think eleven doctors out of twelve agree that this
is the worst stress of all. The deadliest. (The twelfth
was too stressed to make it.)
So don't be that "twelfth doctor, " Jerome
and screenwriters out there. Stay calm, cool, and
collected. Keep writing and try not to stress yourself out over
the little things. Instead, save it for the big things.
Like getting your parking ticket validated.