the circular runner

Being Defeated By a Blank Screen and a Flashing Cursor…

In humor, life, media, observations, teaching & education, writers & books, writing on December 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm

It might be a sign of our virtual times, but I’m getting a beat-down by nothingness. Specifically, the nothingness of a blank screen on my scriptwriting software. How the hell does that happen? It’s been a week, and I keep managing to do anything but write my spec script. Jesus, what is wrong with me? I know what I have to write. I have the plot lines all mapped out, and I’ve even gone over them with a professional writer who gave me the OK.

(The fact that I feel the need to mention this is part of the problem. Why do I even need that someone else gave me the ok?)

I gotta say that getting a pummeling by a blinking cursor is a humbling experience. It reminds me of some of my GED students who are tough as all get-out and yet are complete mush-pots in the way that they won’t even try a new math problem without me sitting there and giving them permission. Maybe, it’s about guts. Maybe some people are just more brave about trying new things than other people. But I suspect things run deeper–for both me and my students. The young people who come to me lack confidence in the smarts-department. I don’t know why that is–probably no one ever stopped to tell them they were capable, which is a crime but it is what it is. For me as a writer, I can’t exactly cry a river. It’s not like I’ve had crazy success, but I have had some support from generous readers and teachers. That said, I do have something in common with my students: we all are fearful of trying because we fear failure.

As a teacher, I’ve gotten into some arguments with my colleagues who also work with GED kids because their way around that fear has been to not push the students too hard–the thinking here is that if you don’t push students too hard, they will eventually try on their own. My thinking is that we should push the living shit out of them (in a nice and gentle and nurturing way) because the world doesn’t wait around. The difference is that I try to be there for my kids and to let them know that it’s not only ok to try, it’s ok to fail–whatever fail means.  I will be there for them so that they can get up and try again and keep trying until they hit the mark.

Well, those who can, do and those who can’t, …GOD, I hope that saying is wrong. I know that what keeps me from actually putting words to paper–unless those words are a blog entry explaining with other words on the page that have nothing to do with the words that would appear on my script–is a fear of failing. I can’t handle the pressure because the pressure I have building up on me isn’t just about the damn script. Just like my kids who are freaking out about adding fractions, it’s not the thing in front of us that holds us back. For them, it might be their pasts full of bad teachers and crappy learning environments. For me, it’s my screwed-up sense of the future. I turned 40 a couple months back, and before that, I never once was much about looking back. But now, trying to get myself to try to write a spec script, all I can think about is the fact that I’m trying to do something that most other people do when they are in their 20s. That I will have to put up with the odd looks and TSK’s. It’s dumb. It’s futile. And I know full well that I’m only pushing back the inevitable because at this rate, I’m going to be 41 and trying to write my first script, which is one year worse than my current situation. I tell my kids the same when they tell me that their little brothers in the fourth grade are learning fractions. They don’t admit it because they’re too tough, but I know they’re basically saying they’re stupid, or at least they feel like that. I tell them that they’re learning at their time, the right time for them and that they shouldn’t compare themselves.

Good thing they don’t read this bog. But then again, what’s that saying again? People who can, do, and teachers? What is it they do or don’t do. I forget.  I must really be getting old.

  1. I agree with the notion that people should be pushed until they are uncomfortable (because nothing great was ever accomplished with ease), but I also think it is important to keep a certain level of positive reinforcement in the mix.

  2. man… I loved that… it was certainly some circular thinking…

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