Age Calls It “Creative” Writing For a Reason

Upon graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Playwriting, my mentor, Mr. Arthur Giron cozied up to me and asked the question heard around the world: “Well, what are you going to do for the next twenty years?”  Cocksure and filled to the brim with inflamed enthusiasm and a bulwark of self-confidence, I smugly replied, “Why, be famous of course!”  I had a produceable play under one arm, a New York literary agent under the other; copies of my scripts being eyed by regional theaters all over the country, and a handful of positive reviews of my recent MainStage production; not-to-mention the sheepskin from a meritorious and first-string school like Carnegie Mellon!  I mean really, really, what else did he think I would do?  Mr. Giron shook his head slowly while he stroked and fiddled with his moustache: “You’re like a new-make-scotch-whisky.  You’ve been recently poured into your used cask where you’ll age or mature (meaning you’ll absorb the character of the ageing oak casks heretofore used to ferment sherry); and just like new-whisky’s alcohol content diminishing year by year, so will the strangulating auspices of your of fame and fortune.  The end result is a smooth, complex, and enigmatic author with the depth of character fossilized by year after year of life’s experience bearing down on talent; similar to pressure applied to coal produces diamonds.  In other words, my dear boy, now you’ve got to live life to its fullest, absorb as much as you can.  It’s from there, your experience of life from which you’ll withdraw the dark, dense, and curiously smooth depth.”

They couldn’t have told me that before I signed the promissory note for fifty thousand dollars to pay for two years of post-graduate education?

Mr. Giron’s soothsaying was brutally honest and absolutely true!  For the next twenty years I was given the cold-shoulder by most of the legitimate theatres in America; my New York agent dropped me because I was a one-trick pony (I had only one produceable scripts so when directors asked: “What else have you got?” she had nothing to offer.)  And soon thereafter I rendered my writing as the needless folly of starry-eyed twenty-somethings  young men and turned my attention to the corporate world, leaving my writing to rot in a trunk in the attic.

Unbearable Cruelty

2menWe were walking a block-and-a-half home tonight after watching a recently released movie.  About thirty minutes from the end of the movie I closed my eyes and withdrew the custom-fit Etymotic ear plugs I wear around my neck every day, and tried, really tried to isolate myself from the movie.  I knew that it was already too late to stave off the consequence of watching a film which included the graphic horror that the characters (humans) performed on one another.  I’d swum well past the breakwater and already found myself caught in a riptide of emotion that I prayed I could withhold until after we said goodnight.

And then it happened: starting from deep in my core, an ache, dull, almost quiet; but it sank, then caught fire and spread throughout my torso, finally exiting by way of heaving sobs and weeping.  I wretched as though vomiting; it had to come out like bad liquor; all at once I wailed, it was impossible to breathe; my partner grabbed ahold and hugged me; and I asked the same question I always ask when this happens: Why are people so cruel to each other?meanpeoplesuck

Whatever degree of resistance we’re born with or develop as a means of survival, when it comes to cruelty I find it absolutely unbearable and I must, in order to keep my wits, distance myself as quickly as possible, or shut my eyes which is partially effectual by eliminating the video portion.  An apparent afteraffect of my mental breakdown in 2008, one of my widely known characteristics disappeared.  This capacity was a basic tenet of survival in my career: an unusual and boundless tolerance of unwarranted and often gratuitous domination, insensitivity, and publicly verbal assaults by senior executives.  Post-breakdown I was no longer immune from feeling, really, really feeling the appalling and sorrowful inhumanity most humanity ignores, approves, pities, politely acknowledges while respecting civil decorum, or determined is very profitable as entertainment and implants it in scene after scene of recent motion pictures, or spends millions of dollars to create brutal, vulgar, savage, and murderous atrocities then market to our children as toys, or a sympathetic and comfortable populace helplessly citing the excuse approved by concerned yet tolerant bourgeoisie and the proletarians alike, “I mean really, what can I do?  I’m just one guy?”

TRY EMPATHY AND INTOLERANCE AND ACTION against any expression of cruelty by a human being!

And if that doesn’t inspire you to get involved, how about when you witness any expression of cruelty by a human being?dalaikindquote

But if neither works for you, place yourself in an environment where one human being (them) has dominion over another human being (you), and experience how it feels to take both barrels of cruelty.  And not just once.  Any time. Any where.  And fighting back gets you fired, sued, incarcerated, or killed.

We’ve got groups throwing blood on fur donning women; hordes marching on behalf of the inhumane treatment of animals for experiments; prohibition of foie gras in Chicago due to the mistreatment of the goose.

Really?  I mean, really?

Our cruelty to each other must take precedent: It’s intolerable, inhumane, unjust, and in no uncertain terms has it ever been, or will it ever be fodder for entertainment or a toy for a child.