THE LOVED ONES’ GUIDE TO THE CARE AND FEEDING OF A WOULD-BE SCREENWRITER

Footwear vs. Readiness to spread the good news

This section is assigned reading for anyone who loves you and is within shouting distance.

When to give air and light

There will be a moment when your writer has left the planet. You can tell because there will be a hole in the air, a vacuum created by his or her leaving.  If you try to reach in and pull them back, you will get your hand bitten.  You will feel abandoned.  You will do anything – interrupt, offer hot food on a tray at the typewriter.  This is a mistake.  They are gone.  Trying to get them back from outer space (a) does not work and (b) will make you feel more abandoned.  Know this: It isn’t personal.  Just because they’ve left the planet doesn’t mean they don’t love you.  It means they are working, and if they are working, be patient.  They will eventually finish working and be back and love you madly.

When not to take protestations of love too seriously

They have written pages of genius. Their “lovability quotient” has gone up and they will want to dance with you while you’re trying to cut vegetables.  Put this outpouring of love in your pocket and lavish it on yourself tomorrow, when they are “worthless failures” and are incapable of sending or receiving any kind of love.

Postponed gratification

If your writer is out to prove himself in his script, he might be inclined to this symptom: he can’t love or be loved until the script is done. This is tough.  He will not let you love him and yet he may be demanding of your love.  Make a deal to have love until after the script is done, the script will never get done and you’ll never get on with life.  (He doesn’t like to be touched)

Crisis intervention technique #1

If you are feeling unappreciated and aren’t getting any cooperation from your writer whatsoever, open all the books you have in the house to the acknowledgement page. Notice the tone of indebtedness and apology all writers feel toward their loved ones – .

Be patient. You’ll get yours.

Happily ever after

I have a writer friend whose new wife was in terrible anguish. “He doesn’t love me.”  We talked about it.  She was willing to entertain the idea that he loved her, he was just writing.  Rather than thinking of writing as the enemy, she embraced it and helped him every way she could.  That made her feel part of, rather than apart from him.  Seven years and two kids later he’s a hotshot.  Hollywood writer and they have a great marriage.  I went to their house for dinner.  Jack was sound asleep in the hammock.  Donna said, without missing a beat, “He’s working on the second act.”

How to give Jekyll & Hyde equal time

As you know, this business of two people in love can be a real rollercoaster.

When you add writing to it, be aware that you don’t use the writing as a focus for troubles that really belong to other realms of your relationship. Inner Movie Axiom: Writing is not infidelity.

When someone writes a script, especially a first script, it is usually a sincere attempt to better himself in some way. If that is a threatening concept to you, honour your writer by bettering yourself right along with him.  Make a 21-day schedule of mutual activities of self-improvement.  One day, let him recite his Oscar speech to inspire you off the couch and into aerobics.  The next day, when he jumps down your throat, honour yourself by not stuffing your face.

If you can dream individual dreams together, isn’t that a lovely use of love?

A word about believing

There is something very exciting about being in on someone’s dream. When you can believe in the person and want their dream to come true, then you’ll be fine and they will too.

©Marshall Dodgsons, 1971.

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