‘Coraline’ is a book by Neil Gaiman – one of the western world’s most remarkable, and successful storytellers. And just because ‘Neil Gaiman’, it was turned into a movie. It is brilliant, of course. What is there not to love? Story by Gaiman, directed by Henry Selick [“The Nightmare Before Christmas” – And what was there not to love about THAT?! I loved it so much. I still want to become insanely wealthy and turn it into a stage show.].
Anyway, good movie, SERIOUSLY SCARY, and here’s the quirk: I’d forgotten that when I took my youngest son to it five years ago he had to get out. Too freaked! So I missed an entire quarter of the movie – most of the climax, in fact.
So today I’m suddenly going – “I don’t remember this bit! Or this! Or THIS!!” … (One of the joys of starting to lose your memory in old age, I guess.)
But today the thing I noticed the most was that, unlike most of the rest of my life, I didn’t finish by going – “Hell yeah! I wanna make a movie as good as that! I wanna make a movie that kicks emotional arse!!” I used to be like that. Every movie. I was never content to just be a passive plodding consumer of content. I wanted to be a creator of content!
And believe me, I have tried. I am a creator of ‘content’ in as much as I have written some 25 books. About 17 of them have been published. But I was never content with that. I’ve always aspired to do more, and be more famous. I’ve written some movies. Two of them to be precise. And done up ‘treatments’ for several more. I’ve put them around. I’ve bothered important people. Hell: I gate-crashed a kiddie party just so I could hand a proposal to Richard Taylor [of Weta Workshops, and the only Oscar Winner I’ve ever met.] Got a polite reply from Weta just a few weeks later: “Thank you, blah blah blah, very interesting, but we are already developing our own Steampunk concepts.” <sigh>
So; I’ve tried. and nothing’s happening. Not like I’m a talentless hack! Fook: I won a place in a short film script development program, TWICE, with the SAME SCRIPT, and both times they funded everyone-else’s little movies but not mine. Other people have wanted to do it, but – no money – or – busy elsewhere. Dead ends. I’m tired. That one’s dead. My award-winning script!
Next stage: I’d come out of a movie emotionally spewing for a different reason – “Fuck it! how come I still haven’t made a movie?! I’ve written stuff! WTF is wrong!? Why does the entire Universe think my stuff is not up to snuff? Maybe … (now here’s a thought) … because it’s not up to snuff?”
Now they say ‘Never give up.’ The Hollywood Message. the New-Age Message. It’s everywhere. But I’m starting to get the shits with it. Actually, I do want to give up. What could possibly be better than just sinking back into ‘Passive Consumer Mode’? Sweet, eh? Just vege out – watch another movie, catch up on the 4 years of Dr Who I’ve yet to see, Just become a sponge … Couch, chips, beer …. Mmmmmm.
But it’s actually very VERY difficult to give up; yet persevering is actually awful. I tear myself in half all the time, at every set-back; every un-result. Yeah, yeah, yeah: “Never give up …, keep trying …,one day” … but I guess I’m mentally defective or something; I don’t like that slick Hollywood schtick. Winning that game must require some sort of rhino skin that I haven’t got. <shouts> “I was not born an optimist!”
BUT HERE’S THE TWIST: My entire career as a writer (& the only ‘career’ I’ve ever had, incidentally), only really began because I had entirely, completely, given up on it. (Long story. Another time.) Every wonderful thing in my life only ever got started after I completely, genuinely, and to my deepest level – gave up. The spiritual people call it ‘Surrender”. They say it’s a good thing to do; the best; the ONLY.
Today, as Coraline ended, I noticed that I had changed. My old bitterness wasn’t there. Just a kind of tired acceptance – “I ain’t ever gonna make a kick-arse movie. And that’s okay. Not everyone does. Not my ‘destiny’. Yup, I’ll just enjoy what other people make …”
But I still burn inside to do stuff; create; write. I absolutely abhor the couch potato. So don’t worry, something’s always going on. That is the dis-ease I was born with.