E DWA RD SA XON — D EA R SE LF T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L
»What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?« —
Dear Self, Pay attention to your education. When you get out in the working world you are going to need all that learning. Imagine that you are a plumber and school is where they hand out the monkey wrenches and spanners that you use every day. As a story professional those tools are an intimate knowledge of genre, character, and structure of the great films, plays and stories. Master the basics of written communication and learn how to be clear and economical in saying what you mean. It’s a lifelong process.
leagues you make while you are coming up are going to get more important to you as you move on in life. Don’t forget to have fun. You’ll have more of it if you share your successes, are grateful for what you have right now, and don’t take yourself too seriously. More than half of the good and bad things that happen are a result of chance. Yours sincerely,
Your stories are your legacy. Think about what morality or belief system you may be pushing or endorsing. Some sage said the job of great art is to »comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.« Be unreasonable in your enthusiasm. Work like you’re 10 minutes from a deadline. Do more than is expected and you’ll get promoted. If you like someone, let them know it. If you like their work, tell your friends. Don’t be afraid to light your hair on fire and evangelize about the virtues of a new actor, a song, a great TV show. You’ll want someone to do that about your work one day.
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Make things. If you write a page a day you’ll have 365 pages at the end of a year! Storytelling isn’t a job, it’s a vocation. A devote priest prays morning, noon, and night. We storytellers watch, write, and read on mornings, weekends, and in the wee hours. Be careful with people’s feelings. The mandate is to insist on excellence in the work while treating people how you would like to be treated. The friends and col-
Published on Mar 15, 2014