A Writer’s Time: Making The Time To Write – Dr. Ken Atchity [FULL INTERVIEW]


Film Courage: Ken, I have a quote here from the late
author Philip Roth and quote is the road to hell is paved with works in progress. Dr. Ken Atchity, Author/Producer:
Yes, that’s worse than good intentions. What’s that a question like
it’s a statement and a question I guess in that do you have any ideas on that I
know it’s it’s kind of a thing I’m just throwing out here but well I think
unfinished works are that the kind of characteristic debris of the writers
life of any visionaries life I mean that the discards that Leonardo da Vinci had
in his studio were prodigious and you you just have a lot of ideas and you
can’t do them all and one of the methods that I’ve developed over the years is to
actually set aside a new idea and give it a two-week rest and and check in with
it in two weeks to see whether you even remember the idea and and the key to
doing that as a writer is not to write it down see it’s like a basic rule that
I have is that if you have an idea and as a writer your immediate goal is to
write it down get it down because that’s what writers do if you can train your
brain not to do that you’re gonna have much better product in the long run
because you’re not writing every single thing down including every bad thing so
by not writing it down when you revisit it two weeks from now if you don’t
remember it that’s great that means one lousy idea went away as opposed to
trying to do something with every single idea that you have and so I think that’s
part of what creative people learn is how to manage their own minds and
because I was an accountant son I long-ago analyze the creative process
the creative mind and decided that they weren’t just crazy the way a lot of
people think they actually is a method to creativity and in fact it spreads
across every discipline whether you’re a physicist or a mathematician or you know
an inventor or a writer or an artist creative process has the same steps in
the same general pattern so if you can understand the process then you aren’t
nearly as neurotic as you are if you don’t understand it you know one of my
goals was to not be crazy Salvador Salvador Dali said one of my
favorite things about this he said the difference between myself and a madman
is that I am not mad and I love that because it’s it’s exactly what I’m
talking about it’s it’s understanding the method in your madness as
Shakespeare put it and if you can understand that then you don’t have to
be unhappy and neurotic in order to be a productive writer
speaking of which writing things down do you make lists I do make lists but kind
of limited I mean what I what I have instead is a very complicated method of
time management that involves a chart that I make regularly and the chart has
room for some lists but most of what I do is doing the same things in
compartments of time that I believe are the right compartments for what I do I
know in our last interview which was about a year a year and a half ago we
talked about one of your books and you talked about time management and that
you know creative people that get things done they’re very aware of time so then
I started to monitor myself am I really as aware of time as I should be do it
maybe I’m not a where I where enough and so it became this new thing where you
were talking about before that just that most people that are very productive
they know exactly how much time something takes them and and I thought
that was interesting because I thought I was aware of time and then when I
started listening to that I realized no I’m actually not because I don’t know
how much time and I’m you know and it ends up where I’m not giving myself
enough of it so it can’t consume me too aware of time though where it becomes a
hindrance yeah I think that’s possible in today’s world especially with all the
Apple watches and technology devices for keeping track of time
and that’s a whole separate subject but it’s very connected with creativity
because time is all we have I mean there there are two things in life you can
manage one is work and one is time and work one of them is infinite and the
other one is finite so without even talking further about it you think about
that and realise that by definition you cannot manage an infinite thing right
then infinite element can’t be managed but a finite one can but for some reason
along the way as we grow up in in the world we think that the wrong one is
infinite and we think it’s time and it’s not true the only one that time is
infinite for is God for the rest of us it’s all too finite but what is infinite
is work work is completely infinite because good work produces more work you
know as my son once told me dad you’ll never catch up I was telling Emily I
really hope I can catch up this weekend and he goes you you’re gonna never catch
up and I he’s right because work is infinite if it’s good work it generates
more work if it’s bad work it generates more work so no matter how you look at
it work is infinite you can’t manage work you can only manage time and you
can manage time if you know how to compartmentalize it in a productive way
that works with your particular mind what I mean by that is that I think that
the first step in manage managing time other than keeping track of your time
like you were talking about I when I gave classes on that and when I’m
consulting with individuals about their time management I always start by having
to make a weekly chart of their time you ask people how many hours are there in a
week and they don’t even know because they just never occurred to them but
there is a finite number of hours and every week and what I want to know first
is what do you do with those hours exactly how many hours do you spend
sleeping eating you know walking exercising talking on the phone texting
emailing and and working on the things you’re supposed to work on and doing
errands and doing all the other things that you don’t really want to do but you
kind of have to do to be human so once you know that the next step is to figure
out attention span because when I was a professor a say of students who would
come and say they were failing history and they didn’t get it because they’re
spending six hours a day studying history and I go wait a minute six hours
a day yeah because I’m failing in it I go well it’s very possible that you’re
spending too much time not too little time because what happens during those
six hours is probably not the most productive way of studying history and
we would rearrange their pattern so that they would actually study history only
one hour a day but do it in an uninterrupted way and and here’s what
you do during that hour etc and so what we’re trying to figure out is what is
your attention span for an individual subject so if we know that this person
can pay attention to history for one hour and after that you know her mind
starts wandering then it’s complete waste of time literally to spend more
than one hour studying history at a time that’s what I call a compartment of time
so if it comes to your writing how much time can you write being fully focused
and not thinking about the outside world etc and that’s the compartment that
where your attention span is at its max because if you’re doing anything where
your attention span is not at its max you are basically wasting your time and
your energy and those both of those things have a negative kind of
depressive effect on your motivation they’re not good so you really want to
figure out your attention span and then you want to arrange your life in
compartments of time that have to do with attention span
and when it comes to being conscious of time one of my rules has been from the
very first time I started thinking of these things when I was like 19 so I
stopped wearing a watch because I realized that the only way I was going
to be productive with my kind of interests and activities was if I lived
in my own time and did not live in everybody else’s time but everywhere you
look there’s a clock on the wall there’s big big bin on the horizon there’s you
know television monitors with countdowns on them there’s everything out there
reminding you of the world’s time and the world’s time is not your time you
don’t have all the time in the world you have your own time so I discovered a
method years ago which is simply the stopwatch method which is that instead
of using clocks use stopwatch and you tell yourself for example I’m going to
write for an hour and a half today no matter what and I’m going to monitor
that on a stopwatch and I will turn the stopwatch on when I’m actually writing
and what I’m not writing like if the phone rings that I have to take it or
the house burned down that I have to deal with that then I will turn off the
stopwatch until that particular interruption is over with and then I’ll
go back until I get my hour and a half on the stopwatch and it doesn’t matter
you know whether you’re doing it 3:00 p.m. or 3:00 a.m. or 8:00 p.m. etc as
long as you get that hour and a half on the stopwatch you are you know you’re in
good shape so sometimes I have three or four stop watches around depending on
what project I’m applying them to and of course I’ve got my computer stopwatch
and I really look at the time except if there’s an appointment or something that
I have to be aware of because I’m really focused on you know my time which is the
soft watches time and that’s what I need to be focused on if I want to you know
be in that unique category of people who create things and in my case manage
people create things so you mentioned a conversation you had about work and how
it’s good work or bad work has never really finished
and you know we’re in this new age of these sort of gurus and these like
success articles on you know five tips to make you more productive whatever so
something David was talking about was a sustained obsession he said that he’d
read and heard from so many people that most successful people are just obsessed
with their work they’re workaholics you think that’s true there’s a lot of truth
in it and I’ve gone through that same thought process especially when writing
a book about the creative mind and I don’t think that workaholics is the
right word for it I call it the Type C personality and because the workaholics
comes from the concept of the selya’s concepts of the type A and type B
personality and from what I can make out the type A personality is the unhappy
workaholic who can’t do anything in life except work and who basically is making
himself and the people around him miserable because of his work cuz this
obsessive need to be working all the time and then there’s a type P
personality who never is very well defined and and somehow doesn’t become
an ideal SL yeh describes him but is somebody who’s well adjusted and doesn’t
feel the same crazy pressures with the type a feels and I thought well the
problem with that theory is that it leaves out people who absolutely love
their work and who are able to live you know other full lives at the same time
and I started thinking about that and realizing there are a lot of people like
that and there I call them type sees in one of my books and the type C is the
creative personality that loves to work would probably be rather be working than
anything else but isn’t negatively impacted by that at all instead they
just thrive on their work I mean there’s example I saw a long ago as Pablo Casals
the great you know cellist was so crippled with arthritis when he got to
be older that he had to be carried from his bed every morning to his piano bench
and because he warmed up every day by playing a piano for half an hour an hour
and but but he got to the point where he couldn’t walk to the bench he had to be
here he carried to the bench and then stacked on to his bench and his arms had
to be lifted onto the keyboard and then he would slowly but surely start playing
for an hour and at the end of the hour he got up and walked too you know to the
kitchen for breakfast and he did this every day in his last 10 years and he
was reactivating his body through the Curia – you know the creative process
that he was very well in tune with and I realized that type-c personalities are
people who have this you know creative affliction or whatever you call it this
gift and but but understand it as opposed to those who don’t understand it
and who have often tragic endings like Sylvia Plath or Hemingway or Virginia
Woolf or many others in the creative world who never understand their process
who think that every time they finish a book it’s the end of the world and they
go into a deep depression this is very common in the creative world is to be
depressed after you finish a work so when you really think about that do the
solution is obvious never get to the point where you’re finishing at work and
that happens on the negative side for a lot of people can never finish their
book or never finish their article or never finish their poem because they’re
afraid of finishing fear of finishing and and as a tenured professor I was
always on committees judging other people who couldn’t finish anything and
one of my colleagues who like me had published many books we were both on the
same committee judging another Kawa colleague who had not finished a single
book and my colleagues said to me you know you and I would would write a book
in the time it takes him to research a chapter of a book and I said yeah
because I always do my research last you know I write the book first and then do
the research and so I already know it’s going to end
but and to get back to this finishing idea of finishing a simple solution to
this postpartum depression is to when you know that you’re almost done when
you know that your and the home stretch of a book or of a screenplay or whatever
it is stop take a day off take two days off because the energy of finishing is
so huge that it will easily be recalled when you sit down again to allow it into
this compartment that you’re using but take a day off instead and it starts
your next project truly get into your next project because every creative
person has another project that’s dying to be next so sit down and start it and
go on it do it to the point where you can’t wait to go on with it and then
stop and go back and finish the project you were finishing and you’ll discover
that there is no no no more any postpartum depression because you
haven’t allowed it you simply managed the time you know the finite commodity
at your disposal you’ve managed the time so you don’t
have to deal with that because being depressed is basically most of the time
a waste of time for an artist you can allow it for a
while if it gives you great ideas and deepens your pathos and the things that
you need to draw on but it’s basically too much of it is a waste of time and
you know one of my mentors years ago John Gardner the novelist said people
should just start doing more it gets rid of all the moods they’re having you know
if you’re in a down mood get up and run around the block and literally that
works I mean if you get your body going and run around the block it’s hard to be
in that kind of morbid depressed state you were in before so managing your
moods like that it’s what separates a productive happy creative person from a
productive unhappy creative person you notice I’m not talking about the
unproductive ones that’s a whole different subject but I’m talking about
people who are creatively productive and have
careers they’re still divided into the unhappy ones and the happy ones and it’s
a matter of understanding I think how your mind is working that makes you part
of the happy group and you don’t have to be part of the unhappy group despite a
lot of urban myths to the contrary that basically say the artists got to be
suffering and tortured and all of that that’s really not necessary you get more
attention that way I know Julia Cameron talks about and I’m butchering this I’m
sure but that the unhappy blocked artist gets a lot of attention and Pat’s on the
back and friends around them where is the productive happier person finds
themselves sometimes alone because it’s little threatening or it’s it’s just
hard to you know yeah but being alone is wonderful so happy and the happy
productive one artist loves being alone and he loves being with people too but
loves being alone because that’s truly when he’s are under the most command of
all of his powers and facilities when nothing can interrupt him and he’s
focused on the work that’s great and getting too much sympathy I mean as the
literary manager who’s managed hundreds of writers over my career I think that
you the ones who are unhappy and looking for attention you really get tired of
them fast if you’re dealing with them all the time I mean if they’re in your
family and everything and you only have to see them once a week okay fine you
only have to see them at Thanksgiving dinner okay even better but if you’re
you know somebody who deals with them every day sooner or later the ones who
are constantly complaining go on to your life is to a shortlist and those are not
the ones you’re looking for and they’re what I call pseudo artists who ends up
end up not being productive most of the time you know who but who are longing to
be artists but don’t have the mental discipline to to actually do it going
back to Philip Roth again seeing interviews with him toward the later
years of his life he had moved from New York City – sort of the Connecticut
woods to be left alone and all of the journalists said isn’t it lonely here
for you and he said it is but I enjoy it there’s no there’s no friction there’s
nothing because guess he guess it was after port noise complaint or one of the
he was just receiving so much attention and he was bombarded with people’s
opinions and this was just an easier way for him to continue and I know this is a
common thing of sort of taking yourself off the map so that you can create but
yet the loneliness was worth it versus the friction yeah and obviously
it worked for him because other people who would go off to live in the woods
end up not being productive because they they think that’s gonna solve their
problem I mean I learned this the hard way because I had to finish a book early
in my academic career and I decided I’d go to my parents late college and just
sit there and finish it and of course I almost got nothing done that summer
because one thing led to the other people would stop by to visit because
there was the lake and you know the lawn would need attending or the cabin itself
needed fixing and I used every excuse I could possibly think of to avoid sitting
down to write and this is where I worked out a lot of the the theories that are
in my view of creativity is that summer because pressure is what causes
creativity to work best lack of pressure actually works against creativity so as
a producer I’d much rather have a low-budget film to deal with where every
single thing that you do has to be a solution to the fact that you don’t have
enough money to do it so it becomes more creative and you tell the crew that you
know we have to have creative solutions to these issues because money is not
going to solve this we don’t have the money
and of course studio films don’t have that issue they have endless pockets and
so on but nonetheless you can see that if there was more discipline to them a
lot of them would be better than they are when you see it a film that has six
or seven writers listed you know at the beginning as screenwriters you know that
this was just caused by you know they they didn’t work with
writer number three long enough they just fired him and brought in rider
number four and that was the expensive way to do it and but there’s there’s a
challenge in the pressure that comes and time pressure is the number one pressure
more than financial even that works on behalf of creativity if you only have a
limited amount of time I always found that I did my most creative work half an
hour before committee meeting because I hated committee meetings and I still
find that when I have to go to something that I’m not wild about going to I have
suddenly extremely creative an hour before that and rather than resenting
that I my my creativity around that so that that’s when I do it whenever I can
and I think that that’s what we have to learn about our minds is how to how to
kind of trick them into behaving the way we want them to behave you know to
producing what we want them to produce so you talked about the type C
personality and then in your book how to escape lifetime security and pursue your
impossible dream a guy to transforming your career is it chapter six a day in
the life of type C and I was wondering if I could talk about that how is that
Dana life is it a structured day is it well it’s different from you know it’s
going to be different for every type C and it’s going to be different from from
people who are not type C’s and how it’s different is that the type C’s has
learned how to arrange his day to fit his type to fit his mind to fit his or
her mind some people are night owls and some
people are you know early birds and the early bird writer is not going to write
late at night because she not comfortable writing away at night she’s
comfortable in the morning so if she gets up at four o’clock she’s gonna give
herself as much time as she has attention span for to do her writing in
the morning which is when I love to do mine because no one
interrupts you from Florida to 7:00 in the morning but if you’re a night owl as
toking was he wrote Lord of the Rings completely after one o’clock at night
because he he was so busy all the time before then and had a family and
everything else so he wrote in the middle of the night and sometimes he
wrote all night and and just went to you know went off to school to teach without
any sleep at all but that was okay because he was doing what he loved so
his his day would be arranged differently than you know the day of
someone who was on a clock that’s not their clock somebody wish to show up for
a nine o’clock job it’s not on their own clock and their day is going to be
probably one that they’re upset with most of the time whereas if you’re you
know if you’re type C and you in charge of your own life you’re gonna rearrange
it around the patterns that work best for your mind and that I think that’s a
crucial part of becoming a Type C is having your own kind of day okay I go to
a lot I go to meetings to sell the properties that we’ve developed and I
don’t like going to meetings because it takes a lot of time to get there and
once you’re there there’s a certain amount of wasted time and then you do it
the thing it’s always fun you know even though you dreaded it so I try to
arrange my day so that I’m doing something that is very productive like I
wish I didn’t get any work done and my wife is telling me what are you talking
about you went to three pitch meetings that’s it you know two at three
different networks yeah I know but I don’t feel like I got any work done I
mean that’s that’s just your mental view of things and so I think that everyone’s
type there every type C day is going to be different and what you really need to
do is if you’re interested in pursuing this for yourself as you need to figure
out what is your ideal day I mean is it important to you to go for a walk is it
important to you to meditate is it important to you to spend next time on
your creative work and is it import do you just
next time with your family and all of those things and you sit there and
rearrange your date to make that work that’s what time management is all about
and how do you do it you know no matter how busy you are
there are busier people I was reading Michelle Obama’s book and nobody could
be busier than the president in the United States and the first lady of the
United States but somehow they they made time for everything they needed to make
time for which tells you that there was time management at work because
certainly if anybody had infinite things to do an infinite work to do it would be
those two but if they can do it you can do it too I think philip k dick loved to
write at night and he would stay up all night and i’m not sure if some of it was
maybe chemically chemically induced but then when he married another wife she
wanted him to write from nine to five she said i’m very middle-class who’s why
I like these hours and so he eventually got his own apartment which he called
the hovel and it was dirty and he felt that he did his best writing when when
he wanted to in this you know sort of dirty apartment and it just lent to what
he was doing so it’s just interesting how yeah you know we’re the Hubble
syndrome is is interesting because I think every creative person can relate
to that President Obama called his the whole and it was always a room that had
to be found in any house they were in where nothing could be touched you know
he could do whatever he wanted and usually their papers all over the floor
and everything like and it was there that he finished a book or a speech and
so on and the Hubble is the same idea and I noticed that you know I’ve always
been the same way by the weekend my office is a complete mess there are
things all over the floor and and then by Monday it’s all shipshape and when
you think about that it’s nothing but the externalization of the creative
process because the creative process is making order out of chaos you know in
st. John’s Gospel says in the beginning was the word and the Word was with God
and the Word was God he was the beginning with God all things were made
through him you know and he goes on and talks about
the light let there be light etc so when when the artist creates something he is
taking a bunch of little things and creating order out of them and so the
externalized version of that is is living in a messy place and
straightening it up when as much as you have to whenever you have to and if
there’s some external force that is forcing you to straighten it up then
that creative person is not in charge of their own life and they can be you can
always find a way to do it there’s a touching short story by Doris Lessing
called to room 19 I think that’s the name of it – room 16 maybe in any case
it’s it’s one of her greatest short stories and it’s about a housewife who
longed all of her life to have a room of her own and and it was because she
couldn’t she couldn’t be herself in her family and she couldn’t do what she
wanted to do and she didn’t feel free and I won’t tell you how it ends because
it’s not a fun ending but it’s a very tragic example of what happens if you
don’t take charge of your own creative life interestingly enough Tolkien wrote
a very introspective piece called leaf by niggle strange title but niggle was
the name of a painter who had this amazing vision of a spectacular forest
and his vision was so clear that he could see every tree in the forest
clearly every animal in the forest every leaf on every tree in the forest and
because he was so busy he never got around to painting more than a single
leaf that’s the way the story ends up you know ends up and it’s really
Tolkien’s agonized argument for why he had to write in the middle of the night
because he determined that he was not gonna be niggle you know even though he
wrote something like 40 books on linguistics and different languages and
of course Lord of the Ring and the silmarillion and many other
great works he felt that he had barely gotten to one tree in his forest and
only that because he rode all night so that that is a terrible thing to kind of
carry around is the the belief that you can do amazing things but you don’t have
time to do them and the answer is that’s not right you do have time I mean where
did Michelangelo find his time where did Lonard eventually find his time you know
they all had the exact same number of hours that we have and your job is to
take your vision seriously and find those hours to make it happen or someone
like Alice Monroe who when she first started out was I guess raising four
children and she didn’t want the other housewives in the neighborhood to know
that she was a writer because she thought she would get the weird label
which she ended up getting and she didn’t care anyway but um I guess when
you you win a Nobel Prize it doesn’t it takes all that away but yeah but she
would do it when the children were napping and if the other housewives
knocked on the door you know she would put it all away she didn’t want people
to know but so I realized that stigma is probably no longer today no it’s it’s
fill there is it yeah it’s it’s it’s a it originates in people’s families and
and it’s it’s when you you you announced to your father or your mother that
you’re going to be a writer or you’re going to be a circus clown or you’re
going to be a dancer or you’re going to be an actress and
that is where it starts because they you know the normal response is what are you
gonna do for a living and that haunt you there’s another book
one of my books my talk about learning as you go into the creative life
learning who your true friends are and learning who your friendly associates
are because you lose most of your friendly associates when you make a
decision to go from a irrational life to a creative life and once they that class
I gave a regular class at UCLA that was called keeping your spirits up for
creative people and one time there were a bunch of actress
in the class and I said at the beginning of the class I said let’s go around the
circle and everyone introduce themselves and tell me tell me your name and where
you’re from and what is the worst question that you could be asked at a
bar or a cocktail party in LA and and have you respond to it and when when
lady said you know she was from Arkansas and her name was Joe and the worst
question that she had in LA was when he gonna go back to Arkansas and work in
the post office again and I said howdy we answered that that’s terrible
and she goes usually by bursting into tears and leaving the room and I said
well hopefully this class will find some help for that the next woman said her
name was Jenny and she was from California and she said and the worst
question I have is what have you been in big lately that I’ve seen and I said
yeah that terrible question – she goes and I understood what is your answer she
goes the Pacific Ocean and I always loved that because it showed that here’s
a creative person who has figured out how to protect her mind from the
inevitable things that are going to happen in the big world people are not
born with sensitivity they don’t walk out of our homes on the way to a party
going I’m going to be particularly sensitive today and the first thing they
say to an actress they meet us what have you been in bigs that I’ve seen it’s not
because they’re mean or that they’re nasty people but maybe they are but it’s
probably because they aren’t being sensitive and you having that answer
instantly bonds you with them and makes them respect you for respecting yourself
enough to not take their questions seriously you don’t ever have to answer
any question that somebody gives you unless you feel like it so when she
answers it that way she disarms the whole situation whereas
the first girl is not doing such a good job because she shouldn’t be going to
parties until she can answer that question about going back to Arkansas
and working for the post office and that’s a another example of protecting
your mind and not protect in your mind having the introspection to
know how to deal and you were talking about like whether people react how do
people react to you’re deciding to be creative you know I always say it’s it’s
like there’s this guy down the street who’s been painting in his garage for
the last ten years and you know when the neighbors are talking they’re talking
about a mess he’s crazy you know he’s a crackpot
he’s been doing that for twenty years whatever and then one day they read in
the paper that one of his paintings sold for a million dollars and what did they
what do they say I always knew the guy was a genius
you know he had to be a genius to be working that hard but everything
suddenly changes when the world accepts your creativity but the only way you’re
gonna get to that point is if you absolutely control what you’re doing and
believe in it yourself and even if you don’t believe in it keep
acting as though you do and in words you don’t have to believe in things you
don’t have to feel good in order to work and you don’t have to feel good in order
to do good work you can work and normally when you work you get rid of
these feelings anyway so this is all examples of dealing with the creative
mind and how to get it to be your friend as opposed to be something you’re scared
of and don’t want to take off to a cabin in the woods well I noticed with the
star is born’ which is now up for an Oscar we’re just about a month away or
so that what struck me about the film was the loneliness of the creative
process and the lack of people around them when they were working on things
and whether it was his drinking or whatever it was but that it was so
lonely and it was just them and their material yeah they had handlers around
them and dancers and different things but when they were home it was it was
very lonely and I just thought that was very interesting yeah it’s a kind of
loneliness that you can’t really describe to people who are not part of
it and so after a while you stop trying to
describe it maybe you go to a shrink to talk to the shrink about it at one of my
clients is a shrink for creative people and probably half the people in the
Hollywood business go to him and and they all have the same problems having
to do with the unbearable heaviness of what they do and the fact that it is the
lonely process that no one understands like I’m a producer and people say what
does a producer do and I go I have to give a like Pacific Ocean kind of answer
to that because it is a long conversation and nobody understands it
and nobody’s really that interested anyway so it’s it’s just that’s what
you’re dealing with in the creative world you’re trying to articulate things
that are alien to most people who are not living creative lives and it’s it’s
a burden to bear but it gets easier to bear the more the light the more likely
you take it when you don’t take it that heavily when you have a dog or a cat or
you know something that you can it makes you feel human if you cook like I love
cooking and I love playing tennis and I’m not thinking creative thoughts when
I’m cooking or playing tennis I’m just doing those things so I think that you
you you learn you you have to give yourself the chance to be with your own
mind and figure it out and realize that you know you can control it you know I
always think the creative mind has these parts to it that the artist really needs
to be aware of and and the parts are there’s a great big bunch of it if you
imagine the mind like a big globe there’s a huge continent in the middle
of it that I call the continent of Reason and it is all the established
things in your life it’s your entire education it’s it’s your ability to tell
time and how many languages you can tell time it’s even language because if you
weren’t on that continent you would need a language right if you weren’t
communicating with millions of people you wouldn’t need languages so
everything that’s orderly it’s from that continent of reason and
then there’s these islands all over the place that are each individual and they
don’t have anything to do with the continent and on those islands strange
things can happen those are the like all the visionary islands of a mind and the
most most people are trained as they’re growing up when they’re when their
parents talk them out of being a painter and and talk them into being a dentist
you know or talking them out of being a ballerina and talk them into being a
teller at the bank you know those people are trained to be members of the
continent to be good members of the society that is the continent of reason
where everything is orderly where you show up at nine o’clock you don’t show
up at 9:05 you know if you show up at quarter to nine that’s good but quarter
after nine that’s the end of the job so those people are raised that way and the
artist refuses to be raised that way he wants to be he wants to visit all these
islands and he wants to somehow do something with those islands and
eventually he wants to introduce those islands to the continent because it
takes stuff from the continent like language in order to write a story it
takes stuff from the continent like you know color and lines and framing to be a
painter and if you don’t know those basic you know can conventions you can’t
be a painter but you so you you learn them but you your goal as an artist is
to make them different than anything that’s ever been on the continent before
right and eventually if you succeed and just as jumping way ahead then what
you’ve done is now a part of the continent if you’re succeeded and and on
that I’ve never heard that’s put more eloquently than in a brilliant little
book called Picasso by Gertrude Stein that everybody artistic should read but
one of the things she says in there every everybody thought that what Pablo
was seeing was different but he was only seeing what he was seeing he was not
seeing what anyone else was seeing he was just seeing what he was seen and
after a while he started painting what he was seen and only what he was saying
and before long suddenly we were seeing what he was seeing and that kind of
explains the whole process by which an original vision gets translated into a
classic you know Picasso was now considered a classic painter in terms of
the history of art and and only because he saw things differently and and had
the courage and strength to convey his vision and then finally his vision
started catching on because somebody bought a napkin for a million dollars
you know and he was no longer the crazy painter which he was absolutely before
that first cultural breakthrough that commercial breakthrough and that’s
that’s part of the excitement of it is to see how artists changed culture by
sticking to their eccentric sort of anti cultural stance yeah we’re talking about
the artists is-is-is anti cultural in the beginning because he’s pursuing his
own private vision and when his private vision begins to be accepted by the
larger culture then he becomes an established artist and that sounds good
to the persons who live on the continent of reason but to the artist that becomes
dangerous and and and fraught with peril because he was never interested in being
like the people on the continent and now he is one of those people so what does
he do he goes through periods of his Picasso you know he starts writing
different kinds of books if he’s a writer and his publishers don’t like
that because they like him to write thrillers because they they’re part of
the continent of reason and they have continent of reason invented pigeon
holes and niches you know find your niche young man someone once told me
find your niche because I was trying to do a magazine about dreams and the arts
and he was the editor psychology today and that word niche is the continent
telling you you’re too far out there you know that’s not going to work and okay
well we stubbornly continued my editor my co-editor and I in and we created a
magazine that lasted for ten years published in New York and so on but only
because we ignored him telling us to find the niche but when we found that
niche you know we have to think of like what are we gonna do next and that’s
what Picasso has to think about so he switches to his blue period and switches
to his cubist period and so on just because he’s now competing with
himself you know his part of the culture is now earlier Picasso and that is a
tremendous burden for the successful artist to bear think about Stravinsky
whose greatest works we’re his first works but the guy lived to be you know
90 years old but the Rite of Spring and and petrushka and the Firebird suite
were all written when he was much younger so how does a guy like that live
through the next 40 years with great difficulty and experimentation and and
switching from composing to conducting and lots of other things he wasn’t like
he didn’t have a worthwhile life but he was always nagged and haunted by the
fact that his art was in a sense premature when it comes to healthy happy
you know mental development this is the kind of issues that artists deal with
and it’s why a lot of people are telling you don’t do that just work for the post
office you know work in a secure position didn’t work for Bukowski no it
didn’t he was a good friend when he was around
and I he talked about hovels and chaos I once took my my five-year-old daughter
to his house to pick up something because he was speaking in a
poetry series at Occidental College that I was in charge of and she walked into
the house and she set it at the top her voice
they had this the filthiest house I’ve ever seen in my life and it’s true there
was toilet paper on the floor there were dirty dishes all over the floor it was a
mess but you know he wrote incredible poems
that moved everybody when I went to Italy as a Fulbright professor I was
surprised to learn that rather than Wallace Stevens and Hemingway elif which
I was prepared to teach in Melville they only wanted to hear about Bukowski his
books were translated into Italian all of them and he was you know he was a
mess and he was his personal life was was a mess and he kind of liked it that
way he never ran out of material to write and he’s one of the few who was
able to sustain a long career without feeling trapped by his previous career
he was happy kind of doing what he was doing over and over again I was talking
about publishers wanting a writer to constantly do thrillers because that’s
where his niche is and that’s where he should can do do fillers but the writer
goes no I want to write mysteries now I want to write romance the publishers are
not interested wait a minute we’ve made six million dollars out of you as a
thriller writer and I don’t know if you know you could even speak to the romance
audience well I like to try well okay then we’re gonna have to use a different
name so a typical response is for an artist like even like Agatha Christie to
have four or five pen names and write under many names Stephen King for
example because they want to write different things they don’t want to be
repetitive and forced their art into a mold that is part of a continent of
reason and that’s I’ve always seen that those are the two big things going on
with the artist my but then there’s a third thing which I call the managing
editor which is the part of the mind that sees this whole thing it’s similar
to you know meditators till I knew you there’s the third eye there’s The
Watcher that you have to develop to see your thinking and to realize that it’s
not you that there’s more to you than just the thinking well that’s kind of
what we talked about in one of my books the managing editor is the one who says
I’ve got to negotiate a deal between the continent and the islands so that we can
actually get this book done because we need things from the continent like time
which the continents in charge of because on the islands there is no time
things happen all in at once and there is no beginning middle and end just
everything happens at once but on the continent that that’s not allowed things
have to have a beginning a middle MN in that order
unlike the Italian director who said that movie didn’t have to have a
beginning middle it did have to have a beginning middle in but not necessarily
in that quarter he was giving an island response to a continent question and the
question was does a movie have to have a beginning middle in it he goes yes but
not in that order and that’s a the Managing Editors the part of your mind
that sees this and goes okay we’re gonna negotiate if you say I’m going to go to
this cabin and write this book no matter how long you know how much it takes I’m
gonna stay there until it’s done the continent freaks out because it’s going
oh I’m going to starve to death like what’s gonna happen if you never finish
the book what’s gonna happen so but but my intention editor works out a deal and
goes no we’re only gonna do two hours a day three hours a day and then we’re
gonna get to do it for ten weeks and at the end of that with that many hours
we’re gonna be done and here’s the path so it could play it so the continent is
allowed to relax because this intervening force has told the crazy
islands it wants to write this book you guys can come out and do this but you
can only you’re gonna have this much time and blah blah blah
within this compartment and that’s that’s what I think makes the same
artists as opposed to someone who’s not saying is working out deals like that
with themselves maybe not so formally but that that’s what they they do they
make bargains to keep their art coin well in the case of Bukowski the the
sort of slavery of his nine-to-five job if you want to call it that was the
impetus for a lot of his stories and it helped fuel him and it helped give him
that chip on his shoulder and sort of put a voices what so many people felt so
it’s almost as if it worked for him yeah and and well as Stevens who was one of
my favorite American poets and oddly similar to Bukowski in a very
interesting ways was selling insurance all of his life he was writing his
greatest poem like Sunday morning on a train commuting from Hartford to New
Haven wearing a three-piece suit because he was an insurance salesman and that’s
what he had to do and TS Eliot was working as a bank teller when he was
writing The Waste Land so yeah ordinary jobs can be can be used
to spark creativity and the artists like Bukowski in his later years found
himself more and more troubled when he had an unstructured life and didn’t have
to you know go anywhere last time we visited with you it was before the
release of the mag I believe last summer how has the release of the film and its
success impacted your life Ken well it’s a you know it one answer would be not at
all but that would not really be a good answer of fun you know a fun answer the
real answer is that it was disconcerting to be validated for something that I
believed 22 years ago and that I got a lot of other people to believe 22 years
ago including Doubleday to the tune of two million dollars in Disney to the
tune of a million a new line to the tune of a million plus and so on and then it
didn’t happen and suddenly all these years later it happens and people go you
must feel good to be corroborated and I said yes I do but the truth is it taught
me the most important lesson of all which I wrote into it
they called the waiting room if I had been waiting for the Meg to happen or
for any movie that I started 20 years ago to happen I probably would be
miserable if not suicidal but what you do in the waiting room is you do
something else that that’s how you manage your time when you’re waiting for
something that can be annoying and a burden and the what you have to do is
other things so what I did was 50 other things as a result 30 movies have
happened and hundreds of books and a new publishing company and lots of other
things and yes it’s satisfying to see that the world endorses what Steve Elton
and I believed in 22 years ago that this was you know a hugely popular subject
for a story and all the way along brave people especially bill Avery who brought
it home and Lorenzo de Bona Ventura right said every other producers they
made it happen too but it just I guess what it shows among other things is that
don’t waste time hoping for something to happen do your
work and then put it out in the world and let the world take care of it that’s
one thing and then part of it is to trust your the work that happened when
you know when you create this baby the meg in this case if it’s a good baby
it will survive and it will show us muscles when the time comes
maybe it’s been in hiding for all these years but suddenly it comes out and
everybody knows it that’s great but what that tells the artist I think is to
focus on what’s at hand what’s in your workshop right now and do it well and
then don’t worry about things you can’t control
focus on what you can control and I guess that’s my main feeling about it is
that we did a lot of work on the Meg at the beginning we created its shape and
if finally came out and it did great and am I surprised
no I’m pleased but I’m not surprised because I always
believe it but I am so glad I didn’t hang my own personal psychology on it
because if I had done that I had been you know locked up I know it’s like like
like myself Steve went on to write eight more books on different subjects – and
built another career around his talent and he’ll continue doing that he’s
learned that less than two that was disappointing that it didn’t come out
back then well it felt like it at the time that in retrospect things are meant
to be and I always say to writers that I manage that every project has its own
clock and the only problem is you can’t see the clock so what you do is you put
in the works the best you can and and you screw the screws right you know the
screws on the cover and send it out into the world and wish it well and turn to
your next project which hopefully you’ve done before you finish this what project
and that’s what that’s what the Creator does they keep working on new projects
so this role didn’t or perfectly God creates another world maybe it’s better
how often do you create do I create well I’m always involved in at least two
creative projects I’ve just finished three screenplays in the last 12 months
and one book that was already published and a book that’s about to be published
and I’m always and never run out of creative things to do or you know that’s
what keeps me going is that creative juice that’s why I I’m drawn to helping
other people with that creative juice because I understand it having spent my
lifetime living it and kind of analyzing it if you could be remembered for one
quote what would it be your own quote oh my goodness
I don’t know I I see my quotes on the internet now honey I go well that’s good
that I said that that’s that’s good I mean I I think that I would probably
hope to be remembered for go for it and never give up
but neither of those are original my mother is when he told me go for it all
the time and never give up you know was Churchill that I think those are the
things that make a or you know creative writer saying is sticking to those two
principles and that not don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it or you
shouldn’t do it or even you shouldn’t do it this way because if you have a clear
vision of where you’re going you should stick to that vision until you can’t
anymore or just do it but Nike has yeah just do it you know it’s funny all these
these slogans I mean are universal they’re not just about the creative
world they’re you know athletes are extremely creative I mean people who
break records are breaking them because of their creativity and because they too
have understood their mind and they too have this kind of managing editor inside
the mind that knows how to hold off the world on one side and their vision of it
on another side people say this particular high jump record can’t be
broken but they believe it can and maybe they believe it because they had a dream
that they did it or maybe they believe it because they calculated you know that
if this and if that then I could do it and maybe they just believe that of
sheer stubbornness but they’re only one way to test a belief in the creative
world and at us to do it to just do it and and every time it’s interesting
people say this 3 minute mile couldn’t be run
you know this 2 minute mile whatever but when somebody breaks the record like
that within the next 12 months it is matched or broken by three other people
what does that tell you it tell you that the role of creativity in human
life is to keep us moving forward as a species it’s the creative people who
have the vision to say this could be done that hasn’t been done before this
could be done better this could be done different and we listened to that and we
there believe it or we don’t believe it but at the end of the day if it works
then suddenly everybody’s doing it and and the continent of reason is reshaped
by this eccentric little island vision that it came out of the blue and
suddenly people believe it I mean nobody would have known what to make of you
know tweets or Instagram or Facebook just a few years ago 2008 I think is
when a lot of this really began or earlier it’s slightly earlier 2006 and
now it’s hard to imagine the world without it and that’s how quickly the
continent gets changed by a creative change you know they people looking at
art after Picasso can no longer see things the same way because he came
along and changed our way of seen and that that’s the beauty of being involved
in the creative world was reading that a high school journalism teacher was
teaching her students how to decipher tweets and fake news and that’s
something that five years ago we wouldn’t have even been having that
conversations yeah I have a really strange theory about
this whole thing about fake news is that I don’t even know how to say this
because I I think Trump is is kind of a breakthrough cultural character I don’t
have any fond feelings for him and I could go on and on about that but he is
an eccentric creative person he is the most amazing producer I’ve ever seen in
my life and I can’t even imagine one more powerful than he is
a few years ago people around the world didn’t even know who he was
people in New York knew who he was but mostly in a negative way but in today’s
world whether you’re in Thailand like I was a few weeks ago or whether you’re in
an island off the coast of Samoa or in Latvia or Estonia or Albania you can’t
pick up a paper that doesn’t have the word Trump in it and his ability to get
the media to do what he wants them to do is almost infinite it’s astonishing and
people say well he’s a liar but the more I hear that over the last
few years the more I start thinking what’s really going on and my wife would
kill me for saying this is that he is changing or maybe awakening us to our
strange views of truth because I don’t think he knows this I don’t think it’s
conscious on his part but he instinctively knows that truth is
completely relative and if a society decides that it’s not relative then that
is a social decision just like the continent of reasoning saying we’re
gonna agree that this is true but he’s saying whatever is true we’re dealing
this truce what I’m saying at the moment and that’s the way I look at it it’s
true and he’s got a lot of people who believe that even though some of it
sounds just plain crazy but isn’t that the way creative people always sound at
the beginning so I’m afraid and kind of excited about the fact that we may be
going into a whole new era of post truth Europe you know no one ever quite
answered pilots question that he asked 2,000 years ago what his truth but I
think the world of Trump is a world that is getting closer to answering that than
we’ve ever been before because what if we just decide that to dispense with the
concept of truth we a lot of things would change
but they’re already changing because of him and I think it’s a very strange and
troubling situation but it’s also kind of exhilarating because maybe it’s time
that we we do have a different view of what truth is and maybe we can learn
something from the whole thing so I don’t know if this has anything to do
with our you know with our interview who paid well if we look at it writing and
and fake news I mean if you look at is it Randolph Hearst or it really Randolph
Hearst I think he would stage different things back in the day where you know a
woman would faint on the street and then they would write about it and it was it
was part of just generating content the thing is we didn’t have the internet
back then so it wouldn’t spread as fast and it couldn’t create chaos in other
countries or here and then it ratified well when you look at what’s happened
here the American people decided with their votes one way or the other I mean
I know it was the electoral college not the popular vote but a lot of Americans
voted for a reality show over somebody who was just a little too truthful or
whatever little too logical little too much of the continent of reason they
voted for the most entertaining of the two characters so they voted for
entertainment basically and that’s scary I mean it’s all these other actors are
talking about running and some of them are already have run and actresses etc
and the blurring of politics and entertainment is very dangerous but what
if it changes the world and what if it changes the world for it not only the
worst but what if it changes it for the better you know what if an enlightened
guy like George Clooney becomes president and he gets elected because
he’s George Clooney gets elected because he’s an entertainer you know what about
what if a guy named like Ronald Reagan became president he was a great
communicator though yeah well he was a great actor great communicator you know
he didn’t need to write his lines you know he knew how to deliver his
lines so I think all of that is very interesting and it’s it’s about it all
is about how the creative worlds intertwine with our daily existence you
know in any you watch you watch the broadcasters and I try to watch fox news
once in a while and I find it very difficult to watch it but then when they
come back to watch CNN or MSNBC I realize they must find you know I
understand how they feel that’s hard to watch because both sides of the coin are
manipulating views of reality to get messages across and that’s what writing
is all about isn’t that what creativity is all about like when a painter paints
something like Rothberg ‘yes who would have thought you could have painted a
painting with no figures in it at all just color and that’s the world we’re
going through so it’s it’s kind of like we’re on yet another frontier of the
human minds evolution and we’ll see what happens from it
I’m afraid that certain things are going to be gone for good
after this presidency we may not ever get any candidate who isn’t a visionary
in one way or the other and you know Trump is a visionary even if you think
his vision is dark he clearly is a visionary he doesn’t like the way things
are and he’s trying to break him up and only when things are breaking broken up
can they be put back together again so he’s a spoiler and the world is you know
history is filled with spoilers and huge catastrophes and huge changes for the
better have occurred because of spoilers and who knows where it’s going but I
think it’s interesting that the you know that the entertainment world being mixed
with the rillette world of reality it’s gonna make it much more challenging and
I think the Internet is largely responsible for that because you know
the first thing if you have a certain medical condition you instantly Google
and you first thing you read you know you go oh my god I’m gonna die you
I’m gonna die or I’m gonna die in this really bizarre way and then you read
something else that makes it look like everybody has this problem and it’s not
a big issue and then you keep reading and you get more and more accomplished
you know confused and you wait you go wait a minute this isn’t making sense
like everything is out there and how do you organize it and faced with that you
know you are facing the issue of creativity because the Creator is the
guy who you know or the girl who looks at things and goes this whole thing’s a
mess I’m gonna make something spectacular out of it I’m gonna make
sense out of it yeah and I think that’s why the world is getting more you know
more more interesting where it’s going I don’t know you know but it’s it’s going
to be interesting during the the McCarthy era you know many people’s
lives were disrupted and many people were silenced and lived in fear and I
don’t know if we’re in a sort of a parallel time it’s not the same in terms
of labeling someone a communist but it seems as if it’s there’s there’s some
similarities there and having to be quiet about certain things and with the
McCarthy era how did you see the evolution of film change story well
because we were on the subject of Trump and I’d like to say something about the
McCarthy era and how it’s different from Ari alright because I think that the
difference is during the McCarthy era everyone was afraid of McCarthy
apparently the entire Congress was afraid of him until they finally turned
on him but they were afraid of him and so was the entertainment business and so
was were the people of the country they were they were all more or less
controlled by him for a while and even the media was afraid of him because he
didn’t want they didn’t want him to turn on them and that’s a huge difference
because in today’s world the media is not afraid you know of Trump or people
who support Trump the media is attacking you
as much as they are supporting him there’s different media supporting hims
others attacking him and I think that’s a healthier environment even though it’s
it is a crazy environment I mean we are becoming crazier and crazier but if you
can hang on to your mental you know alacrity through all of this it’s a very
stimulating time and it’s very evolutionary time where we see where
things go with this because you know his attacks on the media have caused the
media to say well we’re not going to stop doing what we’re doing
whereas from McCarthy was attacking the media the media was being coerced into
silence some of the time and that that has not happened
which means that the the the kind of wall between government and the people
through which media operates has just about disappeared in the sense that no
one feels that the governor’s you know the people in the legislature and the
White House and the Supreme Court are separated from us by a this wall of
respect that they used to be separated by this unbreachable wall the media has
gotten so powerful partly because of the internet and and the cell phones and all
of that that that well is almost non-existent now and because of that
it’s going to cause evolution in this country and in around the world so I
really call Veit causing you know evolution we just can’t define yet where
it’s gonna go so I think it’s fascinating and I’m
sorry that didn’t answer your question exactly that Karthi but so when when
when McCarthy was I guess he was ousted I mean how did it how did it end I think
that the that the Senate finally got tired of him and realized how dangerous
he was and realized how see the problem was he was saying you know he was a head
of the House unamerican activist house on American Activities
these committee you know and if you attack him
you’re unamerican but after a while people started seeing the damage he was
doing by having the power to call anybody an American and I think that he
just was pulled down by his own he went too far and he was pulled down by his
own momentum and and people just got fed up with him yeah and they saw too many
people victimized by what he did and so I think it was a natural evolution but
it was certainly a painful one so those who were blacklisted how did their
careers then turn out once well they were out of it until you know after he
was no longer in power and then they were sort of creeping back into the
picture but they were never fully exonerated until after I think everybody
was dead you know because that’s how long it takes for bureaucracies to
change you know whether the Brock receives the Academy of Motion Pictures
or whether it’s the US government it’s still a bureaucracy and it takes it a
while to make sure the coast is clear and makes some changes and so I think
we’re in very interesting times and creative people should be you know just
sucking up all the all the inch all the facts from every direction to try to
mold it into something that makes sense I mean one of the interesting things
about the Trump ear is that I can’t imagine people writing a story about it
you know about writing a satire about Washington anymore because it is larger
than life already and that’s because an entertainer took over you know an
entertainer is running the picture you know running the show and he he knows
how to make himself bigger than life all he has to do is say a new crazy thing
the next day you know we have complete peace with North Korea everything is
settled everything is cool and Iran is you know building nuclear weapons and
suddenly the fact what was happening yesterday with his being accused of this
and that people it’s not on people’s mind because
Media is controlled by him saying this new thing and they dropped the old thing
they don’t drop it completely but it goes down the Shelf to where it’s not as
important and because of that it’s very hard to write about him in any way that
is I mean I find myself much as I love The New Yorker fine getting bored
writing reading the anti-trump stories because what else can you say what else
can you say it’s it is a reality show that we’re all kind of glued to but it’s
entertainment and then fortunately or unfortunately it is changing the shape
of American life and where it goes is up to the people of the United States like
what are we gonna do at the next election and you know at this last
election people decided they wanted a change but not as big a changes could
have happened well then you throw the Cambridge analytic a monkey wrench and
if if we think that that is true then how easy how easily let are we if all
that is true if we were somehow blindsided by messages and people
knowing our sort of emotional polls and then trying to play to that and how
what’s the question I’m not sure there’s a question it’s just a statement yeah
and I think it’s it’s already happening because Facebook already knows all that
stuff Google already knows it all being Google knows when you’ve got a cold
because you you know you you Google what’s the best cure for a cold today
and and they know you’ve got a cold and in fact there’s a study that shown that
they can predict how many people in a city like Chicago have a cold right now
simply by what people Google and they keep track of it they keep track of it
all mostly with our permission well there’s voice-activated ads as well
no so you could be talking about kitty litter and then the next thing you know
you’re bombarded with ads for for you know cat products yeah and it’s now it’s
global which is interesting I mean I we just got back from Japan and Thailand
and suddenly I’m getting ad from Thailand and Japan and I don’t know
why I guess I guess I went on the Internet
in those countries right so now I’m you know they’re bombarding me with spam and
although that’s very annoying it’s also very interesting and exciting to think
that we are really becoming that global that and that wired into one big global
brain you know there years ago a Jesuit philosopher named Taylor de Chardin
wrote a book called the Omega Point and in it he predicted that the human race
was heading for the Omega Point and that point he said was a point when we are
only present we are omniscient and therefore we are only powerful
all-powerful which are the three characteristics that Thomas Aquinas
defined as the characteristics of God and omniscience means we know everything
that’s going on well we’re not quite there yet but we’re pretty dang closed
right because people are sending us videos from South Sea Islands and from
Sakhalin north of Russia and from the South Pole of the North Pole and we’re
omnipresent because we can be in the streets of Iran during a revolution you
know we can be in the Tiananmen squared etc and and power comes directly from
that look at this girl who escaped Saudi Arabia and went to a hotel room when she
was about to be taken into custody by the country she was in and just tweeted
until the country was forced to to take her to a safe place and to avoid
returning her to Saudi Arabia this was this is power and she had this power in
her hand and she knew how to use this power and
this will become more and more frequent I mean it is already everywhere but next
generation will have it down to a complete science of how to use this
power to change the world and you know he ER de Chardin was excommunicated by
the Catholic Church because of this book because he was basically saying that we
were evolving toward godhood that after all why wouldn’t we be doing that since
it says in Genesis that God created us in His image and likeness so if that’s
true why wouldn’t we be evolving toward being like him or her right why not and
the church excommunicated him because it was not a good thing to say as far as
they are concerned but of course he’s now massively respected even in the
Vatican for his predictions he wrote all of this in 1910 before before radio had
taken off but television was you know just a anion and the mind of somebody
and social networking and all of that was not yet conceived but he predicted
it all he predicted that all people would be in simultaneous communication
with all other people and that the world would become what form a single
consciousness and the interesting thing about how creativity fits into a global
consciousness is that if creativity is not nurtured that global consciousness
will have no form other than what what the media give it and the media are
completely untrustworthy for a single reason their attention span is
microscopic it changes on a whim somebody important dies and suddenly
we’re no longer worried about this case going through the Supreme Court for
three days you know we cover McCain’s funeral and
that’s a little strange when you think about it when you think about reality
like what’s more important this particular bill that means something for
millions of people or watching every moment of a senator’s funeral or
president’s funeral well that is a media decision is not based on any deep human
reality it’s based on sponsorship it’s based on what they can get people to pay
the money to run and that’s what they do so if it wasn’t for the creative people
we wouldn’t have you know a source that wasn’t based on nothing but immediate
you know feedback of what we need to keep this channel open to keep CBS going
we have to do this programming and not this programming whereas the creative
person is like what I’ve got nothing to do with me you know this person is
involved in making statues out of paper and you know probably doesn’t even know
what’s going on in the world half the time so creativity is it more important
than ever was because it’s the different part of us it’s the part that maybe
foresees the future and gives us a better future to go to record or a worse
one because it does um it does us a huge service when it gives us a dystopian
view of the future because maybe they have a warn us from not going in that
direction I remember reviewing some of science
fiction books years ago for the LA Times and some of them were predicting the the
the wet deal of weather changes that we’re going through now and what could
happen to the world and I’d like to think that a lot of the legislation
that’s occurred over the last thirty years was planted by some of these
creative visionaries saying this could happen and you know why people can say
it’s not happening is simply because they don’t a lot of people don’t
understand the importance of truth and that’s that’s what I think we’re
drifting into is a world where truth imagine if the media were in charge of
truth because everybody has an opposite view of it I mean one of the things
that’s most annoying into these roles was watching a panel of people arguing
on television because they’re not listening to each other and they’re all
making interesting points but there’s no dialogue there’s no exchange there’s no
move forward from this conversation which is what dialogue used to mean two
things coming together for the purpose of moving forward and we’re not living
in that world right now except in the creative path when a novel is written or
a great painting is unveiled or a statue is unveiled
makes us look at everything differently what are three rules that someone needs
to know about screenwriting well three rules I mean that’s just an arbitrary
number but let’s let’s go with it I think the first thing that a
screenwriter needs to know is everything has to be connected everything else
that’s the biggest difference between a screenplay and a novel in my mind is
that in a novel you can get away with saying something on page one that
doesn’t connect directly to something on page 158 and so on but anything you say
in a screenplay has to connect everything else you say in the
screenplay if it doesn’t the audience is going to
go you know what I don’t get is why that guy was wearing a red baseball cap and
that’s the first thing and then in the fourth scene he was wearing a blue
baseball cap and then after that he wasn’t wearing a baseball cap that’s the
guy that’s the kind of thing that people say when they’re having a drink or
coffee after a movie right so every single thing has to connect with
everything else it’s much more challenging because it’s almost like
building a building where if one thing isn’t connected properly the whole
building could collapse so I think it’s the first thing a screenwriter has to
know and I think the second thing is screenwriters should know is that in
chronological order and logical order and psychological order they have
absolutely nothing to do with it the only thing that matters is dramatic
order that that’s all the audience cares about if you hook us properly it doesn’t
matter where we go in the story after that hook because we’ll figure it out
we’ll be so hooked that we will figure it out
you don’t have to even say ten years later or five years earlier or whatever
you can help to say that maybe but you don’t have to because we’re not stupid
you know and that’s the third thing the audience is the main character in the
story not the characters and pleasing the audience is what made the great
directors what makes them great is they know what the audience is waiting for in
the birds you know like one of my favorite examples Alfred Hitchcock
has what’s-her-name Tippi Hedren walking out of the creaky wooden steps to the
Attic because she hears a noise in the Attic and um she’s wearing underwear
because women are always wearing underwear in the last scenes of you know
usually white underwear right the last scenes of horror film like Sigourney
Weaver an alien so she’s going up there despite the fact that she’s locked in
this house alone because she’s afraid of the birds who have like tried to get in
through the windows whose beaks you know come through the windows so why in the
world would she go up those steps you know she why would she do that so if
you start thinking about character or logic or you know psychological order
you don’t get the whole thing you know what is wrong with her
this is what you’re thinking you the audience’s you’re watching this and she
gets halfway up the steps and the noise gets worse and she stops and listens to
the noise and why is she stopping well there’s a real good reason she stopped
it she’s stopping because we need time the audience needs time to catch up with
the story because we need to remind ourselves we
need to first say all these things about how stupid she is and why isn’t she
wearing clothes and why doesn’t she test the flashlight that she got from behind
the couch she doesn’t even turn it on she’s just got it of course at the top
of the steps it’s not gonna work but that’s typical and we’re going through
all this in our heads but when she stops on the last step before she goes to the
door where suddenly all of our inner dialogue has stopped and we’re going
okay actually I paid $22 to get you know scared out of my mind
and that’s where we are now she’s gonna open the store and I’m gonna be scared
and when you’re ready for that then she can open the door but a person who
didn’t understand that the audience is the most important character in the
story would have her walk up the steps would
maybe you have our test the flashlight would have a whole different way of
doing it but everything that a good director does is based on the audience
not based on the characters or or what happens logically in the next order it’s
based on what the audience is paid for what are you here for and am I get a
Lewis shoe or not because on that middle step where she stops you want to leave
the theatre you know is the last time to come one of these stupid movies is
really but okay get up and leave but if you’re still there then she goes up
another couple steps because he knows exactly what’s going through your mind
and his job is to get you to that point where your mind is blank and you’re just
waiting to be scared because that’s what you paid for and that’s what I mean by
you know the it’s called a lot the psychology of the audience that is the
most important part of I think the screenwriting is knowing that like what
does the audience want to see here not what not what do I have to do first and
what do I have to expose first what kind of exposition do I need it’s like how
can I grab the audience by the throat and never like no let go of it what’s
the formula for writing a great story I think that the a great story starts with
finding a character in a strange situation and working that character out
of that situation and Faulkner said that that’s the way his novel started is that
a character haunted him and he allowed it to haunt him until he’d answered and
tell questions started coming up and he gave the example of you know a novel I
wrote one started with a girl sitting in a tree with muddy Underpants and her
knees were bruised and she’s looking in the window of the house from the tree
and she’s crying and he said so I started asking questions about it like
why were her knees burst well know why were he’s not first they were not versed
and it’s because she climbed this tree and
she was little and didn’t have any problem climbing the tree why were her
pants dirty well because her brother had pushed her
in the creek and that’s why she ran home and why was she looking in the window
because she was told not to come in the house what was she looking at in the
window well it was the funeral of her grandfather and so on and when he had
all those questions asked he could then answer those questions and the thing
about Falcor that kind of illustrates my view of creativity is that he didn’t
write this down you know I always say that if you trust your mind the story
will form itself in your mind the minute you start writing it down you’re
interfering with your mind because you’re now dealing with pieces
of paper and we start feeling possessive about pieces of paper and we want to do
something with them we want to put them in order but what if one of these piece
of paper is the good one at all well he’ll forget that he’ll forget the
thing about her knees you know for example if that’s not a good one but he
leaves it all in his mind because that way it’s free to form almost like an
embryo anyway it wants to form and once it’s fully formed then you sit down and
write it out I always said people will never have
writer’s block at all if they simply never sit down to write until they know
until they know what they’re going to write when they sit down and if you know
that in advanced and you just start dashing it out that’s why you’re you
limit your time forty-five minutes an hour and at the end of it you can’t wait
to write more perfect now go to tomorrow and do it then because that energy will
be there already whereas if you sort of run out of things to write you’ve
misused your time management you know so I think that that’s how a story starts
is by some character that haunts you until you have to write about it and
then you go and apply all the other rules about storytelling on top of that
but basically it starts with a character and no matter how great a writer you are
if you don’t have a an intriguing character at the heart of it it doesn’t
matter you’re not gonna hold your reader you’re
not gonna hold your audience the audience just wants to see people what’s
your process for developing characters how do you go about it well a character
kind of develops itself and what you need to so basically what you do when
you’re dealing with that is you’re kind of like a checklist rather than you’re
developing the character you’re let the velvet character develop himself but you
you say you know what she has to have the the following thing she has to have
what’s her problem you know for example is that clear because if that’s not
clear your story’s not get it hook the audience and what’s her you know what’s
her problem interfering with I called this mission
in life like usually it’s her motivation in the story their problem is
interfering with her mission life you know she’s somebody who wants to become
a nurse but something via what happens in the opening scene that seems to make
her if you want to save this person you have to do something violent back and
therefore her motivation if she’s going to save this person interferes with her
mission those are two kind of part of parts of the checklist and you go on to
talk about how does she change this is called her arc you know what is the arc
of her change how is she different at the end of the story because a lot of
times we are covering stories you know they’re submitted to us and we go well
you know the characters don’t change she’s exactly the way she was at the end
is she is at the beginning so why do we we don’t get off on that you know we
don’t we’re not satisfied by a story where the characters don’t change so
these are kinds of checklist that you apply to characters once you get get
them going starting with that intriguing situation and then adding along the way
to you know but by just checking them against traditional
characters that work well do you think the notion of the antihero has become
stronger in our culture now yeah I think that you know the antihero has been
around for a hundred years or more maybe longer than that actually maybe all the
way back to the Odyssey because maybe Ulysses is kind of a an antihero he’s
most of the time he’s lying and he’ll avoid a fight by telling the
story that disarms the fight although he gets in a few fights but nonetheless
most of the time he’s kind of an antihero that way because his purpose is
his mission you know is to get home and it’s not to just defeat this person and
defeat this person so he chooses his battles and I think an antihero
has been with us wherever and it will be I mean characters and you know in a lot
of TV series like Breaking Bad you know definitely an antihero right in Oz arcs
I mean that I think that anti heroes are all around us and one of the things that
kind of we don’t notice is that over the years the audience starts preferring
anti-heroes on one you know one part of the audience anyway prefers them to
heroes and they are therefore I’m so familiar to us that we we don’t even
notice that they’re anti heroes anymore the other part of the audience I guess
the younger part that’s interesting too because it is I think a younger need
prefers heroes over overt heroes Ironman and you know spider-man and all of that
but I think as people get older and more experienced of the complications of life
they start realizing that what’s more interesting to them is an ordinary woman
you know working at the post office becomes a hero against her will
because she she doesn’t have a better choice and that a lot of people can
relate to you know I think the older you get the more you can relate to that
it’s easier to relate to heroes when you’re younger and still think you can
conquer the world so I think there’s you know ample room for both and one of the
things that people don’t think about is the fact that oh we have so many
channels now so many ways in which stories get to us in today’s world that
we are hugely sensitive to little story cues that make us instantly decide
whether we want to see a story or not you know take take the remote that
allows you to fast-forward you know you might catch the beginning of a
commercial by mistake because you didn’t fast-forward through it but if even a
second of it catches your attention you might watch the whole commercial which
is a story right but or you might fast-forward because it didn’t catch
your attention and just the fist occation it takes for a person to do
that indicates how tuned in do we are two stories you know like you turn on
your you’re surfing the channels and you run across the news bit and you hear a
couple of words and you go to the next channel because I don’t hear that story
again I’ve heard it I heard it enough or I I can’t stand this guy’s story you
know I always thought the most typical human question most characteristic human
question is what is your story and if we if we face people from you know another
planet that would be our first question it would be their first question unless
they already knew our story but in our case we’d want to know what is your
story and first question on a date right like you’re going you finally agree to
go on a date because you want to know like what is your story
and after the day you go you know I didn’t like her story just didn’t like
her didn’t like her story didn’t get it what happens with the jury you know the
two attorneys telling stories the journey is to decide which which of the
two stories to they by which they they don’t buy so the fact that we’re just
surrounded by stories I think means that storytelling is probably the number one
human science that everyone needs to learn and know and the more you know it
the better you are I mean you can tell a story and
you know a couple of lines like one of the shortest stories in American
literature is Richard Ratigan’s I think it was called the Scarlatti tilt and it
goes like this have you tried living in a one-room
apartment with a man who’s just learning to play the viola that’s what she asked
the police when she handed them the empty revolver you know the whole story
is they are right and one of my favorite jokes is I want to die peacefully in my
sleep like my grandfather and not like the passengers in his car in the car he
was driving you know so there’s a three-act story in one sentence and you
know you get it you don’t have to tell a 20-minute joke to get the point across
and jokes are jokes or stories commercials or stories songs or stories
and songs become hugely popular because they tell a story that millions of
people are relating to at that moment in time so it’s very exciting to be you
know in this world of storytelling and and seeing masters of it you know coming
along what about the artist is the antihero whether it’s the writer the
musician the filmmaker where their own backstory and makes them the antihero
and so maybe people gravitate toward their work more if they knew they had
more of a cookie cutter existence and they write this great thing well okay
yeah he had a charm life it was easy for him but if somebody has more of an
antihero sort of art to their own life and they’re putting out work do you
think people gravitate toward them more you know I really don’t get your
question okay it’s very esoteric and it feels like you’re in a graduate seminar
yeah and I’m gonna fail because I didn’t even get it oh okay I like I think of it
as portrait of the artist as a young man but yeah try it again okay sorry I think
it’s my San Francisco influence is seeping out sorry someone like a John
Lennon okay we know he had his own troubles
you know his troubles with the government you had different things
going on turbulent love affair different things what it made him more
interesting would we have been as drawn to him
absolutely I don’t think I mean that’s really his kind of Post story in a sense
because we didn’t know who the Veals were at the beginning right we didn’t
have any idea who they were we just fell in love with their music and did did it
make them more interesting when we started finding out that they have lives
and crazy girlfriends and you know feelings about the government no
actually it made them more human and which is not necessarily a good thing
for an artist you know they’re in a tradition of the Catholic Church artists
could say they were divinely inspired and that was cool I mean that was really
good PR that was like very good spin to have but when you found out that they
really weren’t divinely inspired or that they were inspired by the devil and that
could be a good spin to but it what happens is that when a piece of art
catches you it catches you I think completely separate from its maker
because it’s it’s like a living thing that suddenly you know exists I mean
I’ll never forget my first reaction to yesterday you know that amazing song by
Paul McCarthy I think right it’s like the minute you finish hearing the song
you go that song always existed I’ve never heard it before and they say it
was just release but debt is an eternal song and and that’s the power of a work
of art because it’s it is now part of you know it’s live it will go on living
for some time we don’t know how long but sometime and that when you think about
it I don’t has very little to do with the
artists very little to do with your knowledge of the artist and when you
start knowing things about the artist it starts a bit deflating your view of the
art it’s funny because I used to run a poetry series at Occidental College and
I could invite all my favorite poets like Bukowski to my C
and I learned that there was a two-edged sword in some cases I loved it
like pukowski but in other cases I won’t mention when I discovered that the guy
is just a drunken miserable egocentric guy who who has all these pre-madonna
needs and so on he’s just a poet you know coming to read it at college I
couldn’t read his poetry the same way anymore
and I thought you know thank God I didn’t invite you know some really
favorite poets of mine that I hadn’t invited yet because I don’t want to find
out what they’re like and that’s kind of the way I feel about it it’s like the
artist and his work are two separate things if you create a great work it
goes its own route and knowing about him is you know maybe it’s a plus maybe it’s
a minus but in any case if I had to choose I’d rather not I’d rather not and
I don’t believe it all in a kind of academic approach that says you have to
understand the artist in order to understand the art I don’t really think
that’s true I think you have to understand the society that the art
appears in before you can understand the art but I don’t think you can understand
you know you need to understand the artist and I also have a real hard time
dealing with okay let’s revise the past and say that
all of Woody Allen’s films are forbidden because he’s a creep you know I I just
have a real problem with that because those films live on their own in my
opinion and have nothing to do with with Woody Allen anymore he created them and
I think that’s true all the way back to the beginning of time is that we don’t
have to know who Homer is in order to understand the power of the Iliad or the
Odyssey you know as some professor said years ago the Iliad in the Odyssey were
not written by Homer but by someone else with the same name you know or the
Shakespeare controversy like who cares who who Shakespeare was his plays are
amazing and yeah it’s curious to know more about him but nothing I could learn
about Shakespeare would change my mind about his plays I might change my mind
about his plays based on something but not on what I knew about the artist
so that’s how I feel about you know learning about the artist I don’t think
we need to you don’t think it romanticizes who they are let’s take
someone like a Marvin Gaye and you and you hear his stories and he was on top
for a while he wasn’t he went away I guess to Europe or forget where he went
but he came back and we’re starting to get his career back and then tragedy
ensues so does that make us more attracted to his work not me no no I
mean it might make me curious enough to look at it but then when I do let’s say
I’ve never heard his work before right and I I then go listen to it because I
heard something I hope I first of all I find it hard to listen to it objectively
and therefore I kind of resent that this is the way I came to him hmm
you know and let’s say you know Rainer Maria Rilke was a poet I love like I
learned something about him and I go read his poems and I read it now through
the lens of what I learned about him and I don’t like that way I like to look at
the work of art itself and I used to teach a course in which I showed you
know examples of works of art and asked the class what they thought they were
worth and I showed old Babylonian statues along with electrical circuitry
and along with you know strange mix of images and a slideshow and it was very
interesting to see what the class reactions were to something they knew
nothing about nothing because then during the rest of the course it was
about learning about these different things which one was ancient which one
was now which was a work of art on purpose which one is just interesting
looking and the artist it really comes down to artist what people agree is art
and the purity of that is why I think create create creative people are
superior in a strange way to the media because that’s just a pure thing like
you created this is it is it something people embrace or
not if they do then you know it’s very very interesting you know it’s it’s a
successful work of art I’m not saying a work of art has to be successful because
some workers of art or not yet successful like Moby Dick didn’t sell
more than I think 12 copies during Melville’s life and then 20 years after
he died it became a best-seller and that’s because the world of 1906 when it
became a best-seller was ready for it you know it was right in that world and
it wasn’t ready yet for it in Melville’s world but it was the work of art even
before that some people recognized that and saw it that way so I mean I all we
could go on about this forever but I I don’t like the what I call the
biographical fallacy of having to know about the artist I think in fact I think
it’s a deterrent and therefore it makes it very clear to me that when people are
trying to reject a person’s true art you know career of art because he did
something bad that just seems nonsense to me likes to
me artists are kind of sacred and even priests do bad things right but they’re
still supposedly sacred and we’re just living in this post truth world where
everything you say is fraught with difficulty because you’re going to
offend somebody no matter what and I think we need to get vibe at so we can
keep talking because otherwise we’re all going to lapse into kind of terminal
silence well today’s Esquire today’s Twitter sort of brouhaha was about the
Esquire cover which and I’m butchering what it was about but the life of sort
of the white middle-class male team in the age of social media it shows a young
boy in a room that you know looks like a middle class home or whatever okay
that’s fine but I guess then yes we’re leaving out many people women included
whatever I’m not totally offended by it if we figure out a certain group of
people’s thoughts motivations whatever I then maybe we can figure out other
things and and have a dialogue about it but I mean
people were very upset over it and and so we were in this new age where
somebody’s upset about something every day and as god here’s the thing that
everybody you know people are upset all the time but the reason it feels that
way to us is because of social media and communications you know this I mean sure
it’s always been that way from the beginning of time people are set all the
time about everything but we didn’t know that you know it took letters months and
months to get across the oceans right and before that there weren’t even
letters how and how much upset can you show in a smoke signal right but in
today’s world every little upset gets tweeted you know gets email gets texted
and people are upset all the time so we are in a very challenging frontier of
communication where we have to learn how to continue talking given the fact that
every single word you choose can be objected to by somebody you know I
somebody one of my apprentices read a screenplay the other day and said she
absolutely loved it but you must take out the word raping on page 96 because
when raping is used in a non-sexual way to say the raping of Inca civilization
for example you are going to terribly hurt somebody in the audience who has
experienced it on a personal level and truthfully you know the screenplay was
written ten years ago before the me to move they didn’t that particular
sensitivity came to the fore and but we’re at the point where there isn’t a
word anyone could say that wouldn’t upset somebody somewhere and thank God
for comedians because they they have a way of turning that into fun you know
for us all thank God but we all need to deal with that because otherwise we will
lapse into silence or we will lapse into diatribes which is what’s going on now
where all we do is yell at each other and we don’t really listen because we
know we can’t actually talk you know three people can’t talk two people can
possibly talk I find with you know my friends like you go or three people kind
of be kind of careful for people for sure two people can actually talk
even if they’re violently opposed to each other but we’re losing the ability
to communicate because you know people say I was really offended by the tone of
your email what the tone of my email a cowboy so ingenious that I put a tone
into my email it was just like typing letters and they
were just six words and you thought there was a tone well this is the world
we’re living in and it’s why it’s so challenging your thoughts on work-life
balance well if you don’t see a difference between work and life it’s
hard to figure out how to answer that question but I guess my basic view of it
is that work is what you get to do when you’re not living and so therefore
whenever life interrupts work it makes me happy because you know grandkids are
coming this weekend and what could be better but you know if it weren’t for
work life would just kind of swallow you up and spit you out at the end of the
day so work is what I do when I you know when I get to and the balance is simply
to let life do what it has to do like the other day of one of my friend’s
father died and although I didn’t know him I I just decided I had to go to the
to the funeral even though it was the day where I had you know a couple of
pitches at the studios and so on but I just drove out to do the food to the
funeral because that’s okay and I didn’t think about work all day and and I
didn’t complain as I usually do that I didn’t get any work done that day
because once in a while you do have to pay your your regards to life and
recognize that it’s there but when I think about how many people who say they
want to work and do work and don’t do it and I go what are you doing they go well
life just keeps happening and I don’t quite understand that because that
person has the same amount of time that I do
and that we all do and it’s men of choice at a certain point I mean you can
I mean we travel we love to eat out we love to do home things we love to cook
we love to do all the things that people a lot of people like to do but we both
you know my wife and I both work very hard because we love what we do and so I
don’t know it’s a very interesting question but I’d I’d love you to be more
specific about what you mean by it I’m thinking of um an interview I heard
with Alice Munro and she says she felt like she had missed out on a lot of life
because even though she became a writer later on in her life I guess she just
had spent so much time writing and so she was gonna finally get to a point
where she was going to stop and she stopped for a year and she went right
back to writing so her feeling like maybe so much of her life had been
dedicated to work and then feeling like she’d missed out on life but then
realizing that the work was really the life I don’t know maybe I’m sounding
again like my no that’s that’s exactly that’s exactly the right kind of
complication when it comes to asking that question because the people who
love their work the type C personalities like Alice Munro their life is their
work it’s like a vocation you know it’s like a calling and if you don’t do it
you’re not living when you’re not doing it you are alive but if you are not
doing it on a regular basis and you are not living your life you’re living
someone else’s life where you’re living you know anyone’s life but the artist is
somebody who lives their life you know their own specific life that that she’s
shaped for herself and and and that’s why it’s an interesting question to
anybody who’s involved in in the creative affairs because have I ever
thought that way and I’m missing out on life you know maybe for a total of six
or seven seconds in my life I thought that I have had other thoughts like I
could be I could spend more time suffering
it’s a strange thought right but I had three sisters
they all stayed in my hometown and I didn’t and so they did a lot of
suffering with the family and plenty of occasions for it with 40 relatives
around and something was always going on and I felt like I could really be part
of that but then I remember very distinctly that’s the reason that I
wanted to leave because I didn’t want to be just doing that which I saw around me
as I was growing up I thought you know nothing outside the box is happening
here people are just being and there’s nothing wrong with that yeah I’m totally
all in favor of you know people and families who are on the phone all day
with the latest persons accident or the laces personal diagnosis of this or that
and what do we get to do and the plans for this that I actually love all that
stuff and when I’m there I’ll be in the kitchen you know with the mostly the
women talking about this rather than the men watching a game on the in the other
room I’m torn because I love that but I also distinctly knew that I had to get
away from that that I that I couldn’t let that consume me because at the end
of the day I always believed what those people say the one thing that you can’t
live with at the end of the day is the things that you might have done
you know the wishing that you had done a lot of stuff that you didn’t do I will
never have that problem you know all of my dreams have become plans and and or
movies or books or trips you know they I just always did something about them and
somehow it’s all worked out I go to family reunions but I’m not I’m not
gonna stay for four weeks and I’m not being drawn into all that except at the
big moments and maybe it’s total selfishness I think there is an element
of selfishness and creativity and selfishness is maybe it’s just an
ordinary word for it but there might be more you you’ve you for the termination
or something narcissism would be the worst word for it because
there are a lot of narcissists in the creative world who are mostly unbearable
I think but you do have to be willing to be yourself which a lot of people are
not prepared to do a lot of people are nervous when you do it and try to keep
you from doing it because they really wish they could do it but they don’t
have the courage to do it because there aren’t any there aren’t any railroad
tracks that mark it out clearly you know how are you gonna get to where you’re
going I don’t know well then that’s that’s very No
don’t you think that’s very troubling I think it’s very exciting yeah I don’t
think it’s troubling I think it’s exciting I think I can do it and that
makes people nervous you know people who are doing their thing in a continent way
a continent of reason traditional way they’re nervous when people are gonna
live above a garage and practice you know the drums until they’re famous that
makes them nervous and probably well it should I mean if my own daughter had
told me she won to be an actress I would have you know no please I would try and
not have said that directly but I would have had the same feelings that people
have so I think that you you have to be willing to be yourself and my
justification or rationalization for that is that you know the universe if
you believe in any kind of a higher force did create you and if you’re not
doing the thing that you’re dreaming of doing then you’re failing not just
yourself but the whole universe the rest of us – like a viewer a storyteller and
that’s what you’re meant to be and you’re not telling stories because
you’re afraid of this or that then you failed yourself you failed your dream
and you failed all of us to whom your story might be life-saving or the
funniest story they ever heard and you failed the universe they created you to
dream about telling stories I used to have students who would have weird
things like this I I really want to go to junior year in Paris
but I’m I’m afraid of feeling guilty if I do it and I go why would you feel
guilty well because my parents will have to pay for it and and my my brothers and
sisters didn’t get to do that and it’s like oh wait a minute let me think this
through with you you’re afraid of guilt right okay what is guilt what do you
mean well it’s isn’t guilt a kind of mental thing isn’t it kind of imaginary
I know it’s powerful but it is imaginary like most powerful things in human life
right yeah well so isn’t it fear of guilt also imaginary yeah so
either way you’re gonna be dealing with an imaginary problem right
you’re gonna go to Paris to feel guilty in the path in the future which is
speculative anyway or you’re gonna stay here and feel bad for not going so it
seems to me the choice is obvious go there feel guilty if you do and deal
with it and that kind of thinking is what makes somebody decide to break out
of the pack and pursue a creative life if they can’t think their way through
that then they just should stay home and you know do the job at the grocery store
or whatever it is that that will make them feel not challenged by that lastly
what about the fear of I think Norman Mailer said fear of mediocrity was
talking about how a lot of colleges train people to want sort of a mediocre
existence I’m not sure if that’s true they just maybe stability but then
there’s a mediocrity with some of that I know Flannery O’Connor said that the
problem isn’t that colleges aren’t you know inspiring people to become writers
that the problem is that the colleges are inspiring too many people to become
mediocre writers I’m not sure whether Norman Mailer was influenced by her she
was influenced by him but mediocrity is a is a retroactive judgment it’s not
something you strive for right so it’s something you if you’re talking about
artists he’s a meteoric mediocre artists well
that’s you can’t make that judgment until it’s all done in the case of
Melville for example you can’t even make it ten because when it was all done he
was buried and nobody knew who he was but then 20 years later he’s had become
the greatest American novelist so what I tells you is that the artist can’t think
about things like that you can’t think about whether you’re what you’re doing
is excellent or not you have to strive for excellence because if you don’t
strive for that you’ll never get anywhere near it but you don’t judge
yourself based on any of those criteria because that’s not your job your job is
to do your art and do that as well as you can at the moment the best you can
at the moment and let the world judge it or not judge it who cares your joy and
your mission in life is to do the creative work and and that’s all you
have to worry about let everybody else make up their minds and the fear of
doing that I mean the strength to do that means you’ve got to have a
sufficiently healthy ego not a huge ego or a little ego which causes people to
be egotistic but you have to have a sufficiently healthy one to truly not
care what other people think I once was getting divorced and you know was
worried about my children and you know what the world would think him
everything else and and I was standing I’m talking on the phone looking out
City of LA I had a million lights right and my uncle was saying just remember
that nobody is really thinking about you was the time there are some people out
there who you know know who you are and of them there are some who love you
and there probably some who hate you but most of the people out there don’t even
know who you are so relax you know and that is very relaxing is to think that
you no matter who you are there are other people who don’t know who you are
it constantly amazes me that people today haven’t heard of half the great
artists of the past but so what just if you do something great a focus on that
and it will make sense out of the rest of your existence and that’s all anyone
can really manage I think is their own existence

20 thoughts on “A Writer’s Time: Making The Time To Write – Dr. Ken Atchity [FULL INTERVIEW]

  1. Happy 200K. I appreciate all of your hard work in giving writers/filmmakers a leg up to succeed. What inspired you to start this channel?

  2. It's tough to get people to listen, that's the problem.

    I wrote what I'm now deeming a "slasher epic" or an original,
    high-concept 'event' horror thriller spec screenplay… something that
    both the genre & cinema have never seen!

    Something that can serve as a slasher but also be and do all of
    these other things… something that is actually scary and captivating due
    to it's hook – and something that will present an all new villain in horror!

    Nobody online knows the title or premise to this particular horror script
    of mine yet, although I'm going to unleash the Title on Stage32, Twitter, Facebook,
    & my instagram this October before I submit it to contests & producers.

    And when I say slasher epic, it sounds cool, as there is no real template for that
    #transcend #genre – but…
    that term has nothing to do with budget.
    Just quality X ambition X overall execution… and marketing also plays into that.

    I've been teasing my script on social media through unique photographs & posts
    for well over a year now – buzz is pretty good – even without a title and premise.
    Quite a few people want to read my script and are anticipating the title but I'm not
    going to post a PDF of it quite yet. If it doesn't gain traction and excel
    in contests and completely 1up the competition… then maybe I'll post it for
    people to freely read. Until then… I'm going to continue to push it… as it's time
    to go beyond… currently writing the concept as a novella.

    > https://www.stage32.com/profile/667776/photos

    > https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/projectcddemos/
    (Me… creating a new villain in horror)

  3. I'm so sick of so-called "creative" people giving Trump's sociopathology a pass because he gets a lot of media attention and that's hard to do. It's the same ideology that thinks if child abuse leads to classic films like "Chinatown" or "Manhattan", then it was well worth it. Disgusting.

  4. I thought it was pretty funny how "very difficult" it was for him to listen to people with different perspectives from his own (Fox news). Thanks for the big sacrifice!

  5. MAGA! This fuck's a muppet and needs to doff the pussy hat. The Democrats have done nothing but invert Truth as their only platform. They want to overturn and dissolve, no different than an enemy.

  6. I love watching Dr Ken Atchity's videos!!! They are so pleasantly interesting and uniquely educational!!!! This video is no exception!!!!

  7. Not every idea is great — but I'd still write them down. Just train yourself to be able to abandon an idea when it's not working. Put your half-finished crap into an archive folder on your computer and never go back there, unless you get another idea to add to something.

  8. "Everything suddenly changes when the world believes in your creativity. But the only way you're going to get to that point, is if you absolutely control what you're doing and believe in yourself. And even if you don't believe in it, keep acting as though you do. You don't have to feel good. And you don't have to feel good in order to do good work. You can work. And normally when you work you get rid of the these feelings anyway."

    "If you're a storyteller, and that's what you're meant to be, and you're not telling stories, because you're afraid of this or that, then you've failed yourself, you've failed your dream. And you failed all of us to whom your stories might be life saving. And you've failed the universe that created you to dream about telling stories."

    "There are no tracks. Well, isn't that scary? Well, no that's exciting. I think I can do it."

    "A lot of people aren't willing to be themselves. And when you do it they will try to prevent you."

    "If you do something creative, focus on that. It will make sense of the rest of your existence, and that's all anyone can manage really, I think, is their own existence."

  9. Correction:
    Salvador Dali said : "The difference between myself and a madman, is that I know I am mad."

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