The Second Hard Part
It just never ends, does it?
For years I’ve been trying to be a writer, and tortured by the fact that I’ve never written a great script. I’m at peace with the fact that I haven’t broken in, that I don’t have contacts or fame or anything else, because that’s just life. But it really, really bothers me that none of my scripts are insanely, undeniably great. After all, doing great work is the one thing I can control, the one thing that isn’t contingent on any external variables. And if I don’t have any great writing, it’s going to make all of those other variables exponentially harder.
But after seven months of work on my latest script, I’ve finally done it. I’ve written a script that I can confidently call “insanely great.” I wrote tons of drafts and received tons of feedback and ended up with something that I find incredibly funny, and that only I could have written. Not saying it will go anywhere, but I would feel comfortable showing it to anyone in the entertainment industry as a representation of what I can do. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a great feeling.
The hard part was supposed to be over.
Now, as I’m trying to plot my next project, I’m finding that doing great work can make it a lot harder to start over. I have all of these ideas that I’m almost afraid to start, because I fear they won’t be as good as this last script. When everything I wrote was mediocre, it was quite easy to jump head-first into a new project because I had nothing to lose. In my head, I know that even my good script was a disaster upon the first draft, and that comparing new ideas against it is a bad idea. Even so, I’m constantly outlining ideas that I’m afraid to write because I know they won’t compare to my most recent work.
Obviously if I put seven months into these ideas, some of them will turn out good. I know that. But the whole situation shines light on what a marathon this all is. I’ve finally written something I’m really, really happy with, and now that’s having a negative effect on my creativity. I know that the process was ugly, that it was full of bad drafts and rewrites and people telling me what jokes weren’t funny. But my brain wants to remember the writing process as some miraculous bolt of creativity that struck me from Heaven, one that I’m unlikely to get again.
I’ll get through this soon enough, but I can’t help but laugh about it. The idea that success can be more discouraging than failure is not a lesson I expected to learn this year, but here we are. Can’t wait to see what contradictory wisdom I’ll pick up next.