This past weekend I had the following Twitter exchange:
Me: I need to read more screenplays, so I'm replacing the magazines & catalogues in the toilet with a stack of scripts. Rt now, I'm reading Alien.
Response: Alien's great. But keep in mind it's not the style you want for a spec sale :)
Me: Thankfully, I'm not desperate to sell and I don't write for the market. That's an instant kiss of death.
Response: Why do you write?
Me: Screenplays? Because I’m fucking crazy. Other stuff, because I need it as much as I need a big bowl of gelato.
Why do we write? All writers have their own reasons. A list of reasons. A long list of reasons. We have to have that list because the question always comes up when we sit down to write. We could be doing something else that isn’t so difficult and painful. Anything really would be better. So we need to answer to ourselves.
Marlon Brando appeared in the Dick Cavett show in 1973. He talked mostly about Native Americans, but in the end, he wound up talking about acting, a profession he always made fun of. I think he said it best:
"We couldn't survive a second if we weren't able to act. Acting is a survival mechanism. It's a social unguent and it's a lubricant. We act to save our lives, actually, every day. People lie constantly every day by not saying something that they think, or by saying something that they didn't think.”
If you consider Brando’s view, writing is the antidote to acting I suppose. As human beings, we lie all day long. As writers, we sit down to finally tell the truth. I do write to survive and to get away from the “acting;” to say what I think and to express my truth.
I’ve always thought it would be horrible not to be a creative person. How do these people cope with life? By taking their kids to Chuck E. Cheese on the weekend? I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the urge to write, make films, and take photographs. What would I do with myself?
Then again, I could have done something useful with my life. If I had known how terrible the world was going to become, I’d have suppressed my artistic tendencies, gone to medical school and joined Doctors Without Frontiers. It’s too late to look back, so I do the best I can as I try to figure out why I’m here, other than just being plain lucky.