I’d recently had a conversation with a dear friend comparing professions. As you may know from this blog, my desire is become a filmmaker and to give others the sense of wonder I grew up yearning. My friend is working her way towards becoming a counselor.
She marveled at my choice profession, amazed by the overwhelming goal of it all. This made me think, “Why am I not so taken aback like everyone else with whom I discuss this career path? Why do people react this way?” It almost became frustrating to hear people react surprisingly. Yes, I know there is little filmmaking in Maine, but I know this is what I want to do.
I myself marvel at her goal. To work one on one with an individual who is experiencing trauma and/or grief must be a daunting task, right? Then I began to notice the similarities. As evidenced by her volition, she is happy being able to help others. And for myself, my goal is to work at a job in which A: it doesn’t feel like work; and B: to help others who also look to film as an eye-opener, feel the same sense of wonder I did when growing up.
But how else are these vastly different career goals similar? The answer lies in Malcolm Gladwell and his theory.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hours theory” (Not official name), if you want to master a skill, then you must practice around ten thousand hours worth of said skill. To put that in perspective, if you worked in your desired profession, then you’d still need forty hours a week for nearly five years to achieve that number.
Now in my current status, much like John August of Scripnotes podcast mentioned in episode Six, I too count other elements of writing into this total.
My “writing” began when I was as young as three. I’d play with my Tonka trucks in the dirt near my porch, and envision the world of construction and forestry. My father was a diesel mechanic, so often times my Christmas and birthday gifts were die cast metal replicas of skidders, fellerbunchers, de-limbers, graders, and other sorts of deforesting heavy machinery.
These factions of metal toys fueled stories in the dirt. I’d start with small, simple scenarios, then move onto more complex situtations by introducing chaos– “we’re running low on dirt for the next haul!” Even if that really didn’t make much sense.
These narrative ventures continued as I became increasingly more infatuated with superheroes.
My action figures coupled with the plots of their respective cartoon shows, allowed me the skills to develop story elements between them. I branched out between different comics, and even further: crossing the streams of DC and Marvel, to create new stories (which fueled my adoration of crossovers and eventually Super Smash Bros., the ultimate crossover).
Ironically, I never read that much– even the comics I bought (uh… my Dad bought) were just skimmed and consumed mostly visually. This is a whole other story I will get into at another time.
From there, my short stories and poems through school jumped to writing my own comics with a friend, and then writing more short stories and eventually poems.
And finally movies become the next step in this writing journey. As you can see, all of this, coupled with the little reading I did, adds up to the beginning stages of developmental scriptwriting.
But what about my friend?
Well for my friend, she too has worked much of her life in her field without knowing it. She has cerebral palsy, which has affected her legs’ strength. Her whole life, she’s been working towards adapting to a world that was once inaccessible for the most part. Her battle has been an uphill one, but through every step she perseveres, making every day her bitch and proving to everyone that she too can live a normal life.
Her personal strife didn’t end there, and as she worked through more issues, she decided to help others and works as an Ed Tech at her high school alma matter. Here she works with students living with autism and down’s syndrome, helping them live normal lives. And now, she’s nearing the end of her degree as a counselor.
So in conclusion, I believe that her profession is a widely accepted thing to do. Whereas filmmaking is still seen as an upper echelon of goals, unattainable to most. And I get that. Few people are good enough to achieve success in this field, I myself aren’t there yet: I’m still halfway towards my 10,000 hours. It will be a tough road ahead, but it won’t be boring or frightening…
…at least not to me.
You can keep up with my screenwriting journey by following this blog, or by following me on Twitter.