WHEN THE TRUTH HURTS
Yesterday I got a call from a life-long friend. I had asked her to read the first draft of a screenplay – the first screenplay I had ever written. I knew that she had lots of experience with this sort of thing, so I knew that her opinion would be valuable.
I didn’t know that it would be painful.
She started out by saying that this was only her opinion, so I knew I was in for trouble. She said it was a “good first draft”. Then she proceeded to point out every flaw, every faux pas, every area in which it lacked substance – and there were plenty of those. Apart from all that – well, she didn’t say she hated it. (That I figured out for myself).
I must admit that I was pretty devastated. I had promised myself not to be defensive, no matter what, so when she inferred that the dialog was stupid, that the overall effort was an insult to my audience, and that the entire movie would be overly simplistic, I swallowed hard and thanked her for her honesty. We said goodbye with me plastering a smile over my face, hoping she wouldn’t pick up on the lump in my throat. I considered going back into therapy.
The trouble for me is that somewhere deep down inside (or maybe not so deep) there is a little kid who longs for approval. So along with my innate love of words, I carry an equally compelling desire to have someone say, “What a clever little girl you are”! I hand over my homemade treasures to anyone who will take the time to read or listen to them and keep expecting that someone will recognize and honor my talent and hard work.
And how’s that working so far? About the way you would expect.
We must remember that Van Gogh never sold a painting during his lifetime – except to his own brother, if memory serves. I should needlepoint that on to a pillow.
So the dilemma is – What to do? I am blessed and cursed with a desire to write. I can’t seem to prevent myself from seeking an audience for all this output. And when you think of the odds for any kind of success, you might think I’m just bonkers.
At the same time, I wonder what they said to Van Gogh? Did they tell him to hang it up and get a real job? And what if he had done just that? Would the world be a little poorer for not having his paintings of potato eaters and sunflowers? Would he have avoided cutting off his ear? Or would he have done something even more drastic, having cut off his own drive to create?
Well, I’m much recovered today. My friend gave me a lot of good, constructive criticism (even if it was hard to hear). I will go back to the drawing board, so to speak. I’m not ready to cut off my ear or my writing career. Not today, anyway. I’ve got too much work to do.
© 2005, Robin Munson