What did I write today? A little over 500 words for Chapter 2.
For the last few days, I’ve been seeing blog posts about this article written by Josh Olson titled “I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script” about aspiring writers asking professionals to read their work and how that’s wrong.
A lot of people agree wholeheartedly with his opinion. Well, at least agents and professional writers do from what I’ve read. I only read agents and author blogs, so maybe there’s another view I’m missing out on.
But this has been popping up so much, that I finally read the article and felt a strong opinion about it.
There are some things he said that I totally agree. Mostly the quotes you can find on the previously mentioned blogs or even being twittered around. And I agree with them, but I don’t agree with Josh Olson’s view on the whole situation.
Most of my life, I’ve been miserable and it took me long time to figure out how to be happy no matter what. I discovered it and though I’ve yet to master the art, I am practicing it daily. What is it?
Olson gives this story about how this bad writer asked him to read this synopsis and how he didn’t really want to read it, but would feel guilty because it was a friend of a friend who was asking. The writing was horrible, he agonized over how to critique it, and then after he finally gave the writer a response, the bad writer got insulted. Thus Olson thinks amateur writers shouldn’t ask professionals to critique their work for free. For him, that in itself is an insult and a “dick” thing to do.
This is how I understood it anyways.
I felt his words were a little contradictory.
He wrote this: “Because here’s the thing: not only is it cruel to encourage the hopeless, but you cannot discourage a writer. If someone can talk you out of being a writer, you’re not a writer. If I can talk you out of being a writer, I’ve done you a favor, because now you’ll be free to pursue your real talent, whatever that may be. And, for the record, everybody has one. The lucky ones figure out what that is.”
I believe this to be true. But if this is true, then what is the problem? There is no consequence of giving a honest critique because you either helped someone realize he’s doing the wrong thing or helped a real writer get better. True, the non-writer may not believe you and feel insulted, but that doesn’t matter.
Here is the point of this entry and the lesson I learned on how to be happy no matter what:
Your reaction to other people’s words have nothing to do with them.
Other people’s reactions to your words have nothing to do with you.
Take responsibility of your own feelings. If you say no (as politely as possible) to reading a person’s script or story, it is not you who are making them feel bad. If you’re the one who received a bad review, it’s not the critic’s fault why you feel like crap. And, most importantly, if you say no to a writer and then feel guilty, it’s not the writer’s fault why you feel guilty.
Do not blame others or yourself. You are solely responsible for the feelings you feel.
There’s a difference between blame and responsibility. Blame makes you feel bad or angry. Responsibility doesn’t. Feeling responsible gives you power while blame takes your power away. With blame, you can’t really do anything about the situation but feel upset, but with responsibility, you’re given the opportunity to do something about it.
The only thing I did not like about Olson’s article was that he blamed the writer for his situation and not take responsibility. Not only that, he generalized and blamed all the amateur writers that desire feedback or “a pat on the head.”
This is the easy way out and though it will probably make you feel temporarily better and feed your ego, it does nothing for your personal growth. Eventually, someone else will do something that will bother you or you will make a choice and pay the consequences of it (which is what happened to Olson). You will get angry and upset…again.
That article would probably never have been written if Olson just said no to reading the script and simply not cared what the person thought. Olson knows he’s NOT an asshole (or at least I hope so) and thus, it shouldn’t bother him at all. Its the writer’s problem, not his.
If he had put himself first, thinking of his work load and what was more important to him, Olson wouldn’t have read that “fucking script.” This does not make him an asshole. This would have made him a wise human being.
But it’s not the writer’s fault for asking. The writer, especially this one, is very oblivious to other people. He would not have known Olson was busy, or that he didn’t want to read his story, or understood that it put Olson on the spot. If he did, he wouldn’t have asked (if he asked while knowing, then he really is a “dick”). But we’re not mind readers. We don’t know until we ask.
What I’m asking is not easy. Trust me. I know this advice is true and yet even I have moments where I forget and blame others. Its hard to take responsibility of your feelings and, even harder, attempt to change them through will and mind power alone.
It’s hard. It takes practice. It will change you forever.
Finally, if amateur writers never sought professional feedback, how will we ever know when we’ve reached their level or if we’re even on the right path? If professionals never give amateurs a chance, how will amateurs ever become professionals?
How can a broke, starving artist ever know he’s great if he has to pay someone-who really-knows to tell him so?
If someone wants something from you and it’s too much hassle for you, say no. Don’t feel guilty. Or experience your guilt without blaming others or yourself.
If you ask for something and they say no or give you something you didn’t expect, accept what they give you. Don’t feel bad. Or experience feeling bad without blaming others or yourself.
Sometimes it feels good to feel sad or guilty or angry. Sometimes we enjoy it, and that’s okay. But once you get enough of it, move on. Don’t blame.
If you do this, you will feel so much happier every day or your life.
This I promise you.