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Writing is Writing, and Art is What You Like

I’ve often struggle about what I write, that delving into the artistic merits and importance of film and television and comics and trying my own hand at writing for those mediums wasn’t serious art. To some extent, the same holds true with music. I felt that about rock ‘n roll. I think it must have been in the 5th or 6th grade, when I was still naïve and influenced by the people I looked up to and respected, that I became critical of the kind of art that I considered “serious” and what was simply “pop.” In other words, expendable. 

I admire people who grew up loving genre films like horror or science fiction and held on to those passions as they grew into adulthood. I wish I‘d been brave enough to be vocal about what made me feel something rather than hiding it. But if I was going to be a writer, it had to be serious. It had to be ART. Even though I loved laughing my ass off at The Naked Gun and Blazing Saddles, I didn’t appreciate those movies for what they were accomplishing. And don’t get me started on television. In the 70s and 80s and into the early 90s, there was an opinion that television was “throw away” entertainment, a place where struggling actors began their careers before graduating to movies, and where aging Hollywood stars went to ride off into the sunset. When I reflect on the TV shows that still resonate with me, that still have special meaning, most of them are artistic triumphs, either in the writing, acting or execution. The Muppet Show, Bullwinkle and Rocky, MASH, WKRP in Cincinnati, St. Elsewhere, Cheers, Twin Peaks. Those shows are considered classics now. 

Listing my favorite movies of all time, you’ll see plenty of popular fare: E.T., John Carpenter’s The Thing, Singin’ in the Rain, and the aforementioned western by Mel Brooks. I chalked them up to guilty pleasures, like listening to Journey or Pat Benatar or Neil Diamond. Funny thing, all three of those musical acts are in the Rock Hall. 

This all leads me to where my head space was when things kind of fell apart in 2017. I written a few Hallmark movie scripts and submitted them to a production company as writing samples. The hope was that one might get optioned. My work on these scripts was insincere, though. I thought that anyone can write one of their movies. That was such a conceited attitude to have. I spent a lot of time working and thinking and pouring myself into those Hallmark scripts, only to be denied each time. How did my psyche react? If you’re not good enough to write a fucking Hallmark movie, you’re not good at all. I know, that goes against everything I know about writing. But my head was still in that space from the teenage Scott. The only serious films were dramas or existential foreign films. You know, the kind that get nominated for awards. I was a serious writer! I wanted to people to recognize me for my craft! Everything I wrote had to be perfect! This is why when folks complimented me on my film, Kings Highway, I found 100 faults with it instead of accepting the compliment and saying "thank you."

So much of my professional life has been spent chasing recognition and forgetting why I was writing in the first place, which was out of the joy of putting words down on paper (or in some cases a computer screen). And I found a light at the end of the tunnel. It came during the pandemic when I made a concerted effort to write a novel, not caring what people might someday think of it but just writing about something that I care about (music) and for an audience of two, my daughter and wife. Sophie and Julie have read every page of the book so far and as long they're enjoying it I'll keep on writing.

Will you get to read it? I would like that, but that's not the goal any more. The goal is to write and finish it some time in 2025. Will I get there? I guess we'll all have to wait and see.

Aloha

 


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