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Thursday, September 24, 2009
5:12 AM

Why Didn't He Interrupt Me Last Week?


Disclaimer: If this is your first time reading this here blog, I politely ask that you skip this post and proceed to reading the entries below. I don't need newbies thinking this blog is my fake ass diary. Thank you. -- Mgt.

I could learn a thing or two from Kanye West. That is, lessons outside of the importance of accessorizing, embracing color, and "giving face."

I've always chalked up his "I'm greater than thou" shtick as nothing more than the overcompensating ways of a person harboring deep seated insecurities. That could very well be true, but my overly critical ass negated one important fact: Those antics actually work.

I, however, did not last Friday.

I came to LA this year to make a full fledged effort in pursuing my screenwriting dreams. In addition to reaching out to people who may be able to provide insight and/or point me in a helpful direction I applied to nearly every writing program imaginable.

Each broadcast network offers some sort of writing program. They’re a great way for aspiring writers to get that all important in. That is, an in that doesn’t require giving your jaws any weight training.

Over the past few weeks I learned that I was a semi-finalist for one of these said programs. And more recently, I was alerted that I advanced to the final round of applicants. That required me to come in for a sit down interview and sell myself on why I deserved to be in this program.

Now, I typically do well interviews…or I at least I used to think I did.

Last Friday proved that I am not up on game the way I used to be. I went in there confident. I just knew I would seal the deal. Make my way. Kick off 2010 the way I longed to.

None of that happened and it’s my own fault.

Basically: I didn't sell myself. More specifically: "Own the fact that you're a good writer and belong in a writer's room."

As I was talking Friday I couldn’t believe the nonsense coming out of my mouth.

Had you heard me speaking you would've looked at me like:

As soon as I left the interview I was wondering what in the hell did I just say.

Thankfully, the program runner - who I reached out to previously before this program's deadline - waited last to call me to explain exactly why I didn't make the final cut.

I didn't appear confident enough in my talent as a writer and overall comedic sensibilities. It was almost like this program was mine to lose...and I did by failing to prove that I belonged.

I have been getting on God’s nerves for weeks asking to be placed in this program knowing good and well he has more important things to do – like mopping up Atlanta.

But in hindsight, God had already given me a gift everything I needed to get in. I didn’t take ownership of the talent, abilities, and potential that I've been blessed with. Because of that I failed to attain something I desperately wanted.

Screenwriting is new territory for me. I’ve had no formal training and over time I’ve developed an anxiety about it. I come from an editorial background and with the exception of participating in a comedy writing program with Chris Rock and Comedy Central three years ago I essentially had to teach myself how to write in this format.

Why I allowed myself to become that pressed about it is beyond me. I've never placed that much emphasis into formal training. I appreciate my college experience for what it was, but I think I grew more as a writer by simply sitting down and reading good writing -- and of course actually spending time writing.

Now if I thought that in college why all of a sudden did I have a hang up about not taking Screenwriting 101?!

Instead of owning the fact that my very first spec got me in the second round of national film competition (of 4,000 applicants only 10% made it that far) and as a finalist for a network writing program I sat there looking antsy as hell.

I know I don't suck as a writer. I know that I'm funnier than the average credit score from The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I'm a non-threatening black man.

It was all there...wrapped with a pank ribbon (I wore pank to the interview...pause yourself). Yet I didn't seal the deal.

And now, I have to go back to square negative seven. In the end, I'll be fine. Better than fine. Yadda, yadda, bullshit.

As much as I hate losing, I can take something out of this experience. For so long I fought so hard to never appear cocky that I in turn started to seem insecure to some people.

That’s not who I am and that’s certainly not what I want to project to others. I've reflected on words shared to me this week and come to realize I may seem a little anxious or green to those who don't know me.

Even when I pitch pieces, while I know that I'll deliver good copy I'm not always certain I sell it as well as I'll ultimately turn it in. This is not good for a writer with ambition like mine.

I'm glad the program runner (who is lovely) said to me: "I believe in your talent, you're truly a funny guy and good writer."

Far too many of my friends say I never give myself enough credit. It’s time to admit that it’s valid criticism. I'm disappointed that I didn't appear to be sure of myself. I know that I'm a good writer. I need to be proud of what I've accomplished in 9 months.

Ugh, I sound like I wrote this post after a eating a fortune cookie. If you follow me on Twitter then you know how much I loathe schmaltzy stuff. Forgive me for sounding like a Hallmark card.

For this post, though, it seems a bit necessary to prove my overall point: Don't be anxious about your gifts. You'll only do yourself in.

I did and now I have to work that much harder to find another opportunity to advance.

Hopefully that day will come soon and I will embrace my inner Kanye and learn to smize in interviews. I still don't know what happened last week. I went in there grinning then all of a sudden became possessed by the spirit of a loserbitch. Maybe someone put a root on me? (Ciara, I see you.)

As much as I hate learning a lesson like this at this stage in my career it’s something I needed to finally grasp so that it will never happen again. I'll see to it that it won't. I got student loans to pay off. Hangups don't keep Sallie Mae away.

Thank you for indulging me in this rant.

Feel free to send your connections to literary agents, development executives, and showrunners below.

The Cynical Ones.
posted by Michael at