Skyler White: Walt, please, let’s both of us stop trying to justify this whole thing and admit you’re in danger!
Walter White: Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn’t believe it. Do you know what would happen if I suddenly decided to stop going into work? A business big enough that it could be listed on the NASDAQ goes belly up. Disappears! It ceases to exist without me. No, you clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I AM the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!
Let’s say you wonder why people who voted a particular way have trouble realizing they made a mistake.
I remember how aghast I was that the end of “Breaking Bad” was in sight, and people still insisted that Walter White was a victim of circumstances, that he was only doing what he had to do. I can only think that they are telling you that, in those circumstances, they would do what he did. Or…that they would be willing to accept a murderous bastard as long as he put bread on the table. Or…I don’t know. But what was glaringly obvious to me: he was a bad man who had the misfortune to discover it (much like my view of Michael Corleone).
We are what we are. That ultimate being-ness may be ineffable and beyond ultimate purchase, but the best indicator is WHAT WE DO.
The next best is WHAT WE SAY ABOUT WHAT WE DO. That tells people what you think about yourself…or what you want them to think about you.
Start by assuming that the best way to be a human being is the WORST way to write: text and subtext are the same thing. Walter White is in a life and death struggle with his alter ego, “Heisenberg”, a ruthless gangster. At the same time he wants to think of himself as a good family man. He continues this self-deception on and off until the very end, when he manages to create utterly ruthless actions that somehow reinforce the notion that, at the core of him, he is “good.”
This is one reason why the “Sentence a day” technique works so well. There is simply no rational reason why someone cannot write ten words in a 24 hour period. If you say you want to write…write. It really is that simple. If your focus is on best-selling or prize-winning writing, there are certainly things you can do to optimize your chances…but in most cases what we want is to be the best writers we can be, by our own definitions.
What do writers do? They write. If they don’t write, they are not writers, in the sense of “to do”. They may well be authors, in the sense of “have done writing in the past”, but you have to decide: which are you more interested in? Money, fame, awards are for authors. So…you must have written. But if you love it, do it. There is nothing more miserable than writers who lose their way
- Writing for money
- Writing for awards
- Writing for reviews
- Writing to please your fans
All of these things are fine IF AND ONLY IF YOU ARE ALSO WRITING TO PLEASE YOURSELF. Otherwise, you are at risk of becoming a hack. And if you ever had the dream of being a writer for love’s sake, this is a road to hell, and some of the least happy people I’ve ever known traveled that road.
The trick to doing both is to look at two circles:
- Things you’d want to write
- Things you think the market will accept.
Where those two circles over lap…there you write. Heck, when I wrote my first episode of BAYWATCH my question was: what is real about this? What expresses ME? Otherwise I get nothing but money. And ultimately, the “kid” part of me that comes up with the ideas doesn’t give a shit about money. Little Stevie only cares about cool ideas. If HE is not happy…I’m in trouble.
I have to keep my path to “Little Stevie” open, and I do that by writing EVERY DAY, by clarifying my values and long-term outcomes, writing out my thoughts, and making daily progress on a primary writing project.
Today? Exchanging an email with a source of psychological expertise in the arena of serial killers for my new novel “Traveler”.
And…working on the proposal for my graphic novel with Charles Johnson. Basically, taking a successful proposal and re-writing it to fit my project.
But the trick is to remember that our behaviors lead to our outcomes. Our mental and emotional states drive our behaviors. And the smallest building blocks, laid one at a time, create the largest and most beautiful edifices which will ultimately be a testimony to the lives we have lived.
If you can own every step, be proud of all you have done, make your peace with the reality that not every brick will be laid straight or on a perfect time-table…but continue to lay at least one every day…
In time, your palace will be built. Once upon a time a friend told me that I not only build dream palaces, but I move into them.
This is how you do it.