People who don’t write are fascinated by the process. They imagine our work to be a joyful, transcendent experience that fills us with satisfaction because we are not shuffling papers in an insurance office. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. If one had to find a phrase that best encapsulates the creative process, it would be “self-loathing.” Any artist worth his salt hates himself as he fills the blank page. “How dare I think I’m producing anything new or worthy? “Who do I think I’m kidding, telling people I’m a writer?” “Hey, I’ll bet I’d make a decent term life salesman.” These are some of the demons we fight as we struggle to fill the blank page. But then, miraculously, we get to the finish line, and we are suddenly ecstatic. Even if we hate what we wrote, the inarguable fact that we completed the task is cause for celebration. And who knows? Despite how unworthy we felt during the process, the work might have actually turned out well.
We beat up on ourselves for a couple of reasons: One, we are aways judging our creation against the excellent work of others, and two, with every word we write we expose a piece of who we are. Vulnerability comes at a price, on the page, as in life. The new twist is that despite having exposed and tortured ourselves, once we finish, we are expected to be our own cheerleaders, marketing and selling our newborn babies to the world. Cheerleading is antithetical to everything for which a writer stands. Those of us in movies and television gladly pay agents and managers ten percent, not simply to get us work, but to say “Bruce Ferber is a great writer,” as opposed to Bruce Ferber having to say “I’m a great writer, you’ve got to read my book.” But Bruce Ferber, like the rest of you, now lives in a DIY world, which, truth be told, has its upsides. In exchange for having to gag as I tell people how funny and interesting my book is, I am free from eager executive-speak like “We desperately want to be in the Bruce Ferber business,” followed by “We decided to go another way.”
Buy my book. It’s fucking great.