Random Musings

Support the Starving

“To celebrate the success of those whom we care about is great; but to remain supportive of them when success seems far away is greater. Everyone loves the platitudes about how good lessons can be learned from failure – but in reality, people only admire that from afar. No one really wants to be close to the lesson being learned, or worse, be the one learning it. We say we admire those who persevered through difficult circumstances to finally win – but we seem to admire it less the closer or more involved we are to the person who is persevering. No one WANTS to fail, but sometimes a derailment of one’s plans is unavoidable. Things happen; stuff goes awry; and it’s often how one responds to those situations that makes the difference. But it may take patience, and the understanding of a great secret: there IS no such thing as failure. It doesn’t exist. There is striving to achieve, and choosing whether to stop. That’s it.” — James A. Owen
This author continues to completely blow my mind everytime I read one of his posts. The quote above was a post via Facebook he made only last week. There was no speech about what he wanted to say or no special recognition in trying to make that post stand out.  He simply wrote it. That fact alone I find amazing, that he just sat down and wrote something so motivational on Facebook — not a book meant for gems of advice like that (which he also does; I cannot wait for him to release his next book!).
His words ring so true. I cut the quote short, though I might throw in some more snippets of it later within this post, but I don’t think doing that cutting it down diminishes the power of his words at all. He is basically trying to emphasize the important of support that is needed for a person who wants to pursue being a writer. But I think this could be applied to any person who is trying to chase their dreams. After you do become successful, then many people will clap you on the back and tell you how they’ve known you could do it all along; how they’ve always believed in you. And that may very well be true. And while that might be all jolly and good, it isn’t what that dreamer wants or needs. It is during the rough stages, when everyone is telling you you can’t do it or that you’re not good enough to make it, that you really need that support; really need that person to be a solid rock that you can stand on as you fight your way to trying to get to where you want to go. Those people never realize how much they are needed and how much they can affect or help you on your journey. I think so many people only focus on those who are already successful that they give no notice to the ones who are still trying to make their way. People spend too much time feeding the full rather than supporting the starving. And that sucks.
It also reminds me of the song “Prove Me Right” by Memphis May Fire, off their latest album, “Challenger.” One of their verses is: “Where were you when they had no faith in us/where were you when they shut us out?/It’s funny you show up now….” They are basically saying that the people who weren’t supporting them while they were cast aside as nothing have no right to claim anything, saying “we did this on our own/thanks for nothing.” I think it goes well with Owen’s quote of calling out those who only show support once fame — or more often than not, money — starts accumulating. The support should be constant, from the beginning, not just when the dream is captured.
Yet the other point Owen makes is a new one to me, but I really like it. He claims that failure doesn’t actually exist. You can only truly “fail” if you give up. That is such an empowering idea, because it puts all the control in your hands and switches the perspective a bit. I’m just going to stick with the writing example just because I know most about that. Based on Owen’s ideas, viewing never getting published as a failure is wrong — or impossible, even. It is when you stop trying to get published that you fail. While it may sound harsh, I find it rather inspiring. I can take comfort in the fact that I am still a writer 50 years down the road, even if I’m not published, as long as I’m still putting in the effort to better my talents and never stop trying. I think it is also an idea that will help you eventually reach your dreams, because it enables you to continue to use your talents. And as you continue to use your talents, you continue to improve them, which increases your chances of correcting the mistakes you were rejected for earlier. Owen’s mindset allows you to not view rejections or less favorable outcomes as failures but as stepping stones to improve your craft until you get to where you want to go. And I think that’s a pretty cool way to think.
Basically, Owen is just a motivational genius. That’s all you really need to know. So if you need some inspiration, definitely look into his work. It’s nothing short of legit.


Story of a Modern Child

So today in my screenwriting class, our professor showed us a film that was comprised of interviews with successful and unsuccessful screenwriters who talked about the tricks of the trade. Time allotted for us to only see ’bout half the film, but they basically said this: you will write dozens of screenplays before your idea is considered good enough to be put on the big screen; you have to write a dozen screenplays considered good enough before you can actually make a living as a screenwriter without the assistance of a second job; after you do manage to write a good one, the directors, producers and other “political” figures will change it, ignore it or bash the majority of it; after your story has been crucified by everyone you will work with, you are thrown to the sidelines as nothing, where it becomes a “how far away can we keep the screenwriter from their own script?” type of deal. For me, this gathered a few reactions, which I decided to share with you all.
Firstly, it served as a reality check that slapped me on the face that continues to sting even as I write this. Those who know me well know that I’ve always had my vision focused on being a writer. As I’ve gone through almost a year and a half, I’ve broaden my dream to look at different kinds of writing that I could pursue, but my heart is still set on writing. (Though, let’s face it, I will always truly want to be an author.) But I didn’t realize until high school how hard this line of work is and how little of a reward it offers monetarily. Whether I became an author and publish books or adapt books into screenplays, there is roughly a 95% chance that I would have to get another job to support myself, because unless you reach J.K. Rowling status with an instant bestseller, you won’t make it on writing alone. (And even her first draft of Harry Potter got rejected by numerous publishers; guess they’re feeling moronic now, eh?) Yet here I am, an average white girl from a small town who is already thousands in debt trying to get a degree in Creative Writing because society requires me to have a college education to survive; to even get a chance to look at the job market. Yet after I get this degree, the line of work I want to pursue won’t be able to support me? That thought alone is not only infuriating, but it is terrifying.
Which brings me to my second point: the writing world is cruel, ruthless and relentless. Being a writer is not something you do for the money. If that is your plan, you’re obviously choosing the wrong profession. And I think that is something that sometimes people don’t realize, because we constantly only hear about the best-selling authors who have had their books translated into 120 different languages. Books like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and dare I use it as an example, Twilight, take the spotlight and disguise the world of writers as a glamorous, fantastic environment. And while they do deserve the spotlight (with the exception of Twilight), people assume that spotlight means instant success, which is definitely the case. After informing people of my major, some are like, “Oh, cool!” Others are like, “What, you’re majoring in storytelling??” While in jest, lemme just kill the belief that being a writer is easy right here, right now. I want to murder that idea with a quick slice through the jugular, so that the lies it spits to society spills down the throat and away from everyone’s consciousness. Sure, most people can spin a pretty phrase and plenty of people can come up with an idea for a simple plot, especially since they unconsciously draw from ideas they’ve been exposed to previously.
But I think it takes a special type of person to want to do what a writer in the 21st century is forced to do. They create a storyline, which cannot be overdone, cliquéd or stolen from someone else — otherwise, they’ll be ridiculed for not being original enough. Yet it also must be familiar enough that people are intrigued enough to read it and can relate to it. After they come up with that, they have to go through the pain-staking process of actually writing the bloody thing. They have to find their style, which is a battle in itself, because once they do, then they have to fight to maintain it and not conform to what society may want, expect or like. After they manage to write it, then they have to find someone who likes it enough to publish it, with hopes that people will like it enough to read it. And if you make it to the shelves, as soon as you make it back off, you are constantly judged on your ideas, writing style, and contents by people both qualified (whatever that means) and people who could never have done what you just did. And you will have people love it and people hate it. I even did just that in this essay listing my examples of best sellers (look at picture below if my opinion wasn’t clear.)

Pinned Image

So basically, a person will either have to be insane or super passionate to want to be a writer. I think I’m a tad bit of both, but even describing some of a difficulties a writer would go through, my desire and decision to want to do that with my life hasn’t wavered or faltered a bit. Which leads to my last point: no matter what, go after  your dream. Despite being completely terrified that I’m not going to make it as a writer, that I won’t be good enough, or realization that I’ll prolly have to get a second, unrelated job, I still have every intention to chase the dream that I’ve had since I was kid. People focus too much on getting the degree that will get them a high paying job later on. Or getting the degree that your parents want you to get instead of something that you want to do. So you want to be a nurse because you like helping people? Then do it. You really like movies? Be a film critic. You can’t imagine your life without writing, because you have a chance to inspire people you’ll never met? Go for it. Don’t let the world and how it runs hold you back from what you want to do; what you enjoy to do. It is your life and your choice on what you want to do with the time you’re blessed with. Might as well enjoy it!
“All there is to writing is putting a word on the page, followed by another, and another, until you’re done. It’s that easy and it’s that hard.”
P.S. — The title of this blog, “Story of a Modern Child”, is actually a song title. It is a new song by We are the Ocean, which really has a good message that fits with this line of thought, so you should check it out. 🙂