In the interest of full disclosure, over the course of the past year I really gave selling-out a go. It was fun and I recommend everyone try it at least once, maybe twice if you’re really raking it in. I also recommend that you know when to piss all over the desk and split before the suits have time to call security, which these days is less like the doughnut-munching, rent-a-cop variety and more like the strapped-to-the-gills, T2000 variety that’ll shoot first and frisk your corpse for ID later. One of the unfortunate by-products of the new world police state. Anyway, though I didn’t get the chance to actually make such a sartorial and potentially biohazardous statement in some beancounter’s stuffy office, it was strongly implied when I made the calls and sent the emails that finally extricated me from those do-it-for-the-money gigs that had started to consume far more of my creative time than I’d initially intended.
I can’t say it was all for naught, though. In art, as in life, there are lessons to be gleaned from all experiences, pro and con. Without seeing it coming, the creative discipline required to crank out material fast enough to grab the cash and jump to the next thing soon affected the way I approached my ‘own’ stuff – as if there’s a distinction. Over the course of a few months, I cranked out eighteen novels in a very different genre than what we discuss here. The concepts and characters were mine, as was creative control, with just a couple of guidelines: 1) 40% of the narrative had to be hardcore sex, and 2) no rape or murder. Well, the first rule proved no problem, but that second one gave me pause. I could probably craft a tale wherein no one was raped, but no killing either? Hold the presses – literally. I thought about it and realised I’d never written a story or shot a film where someone wasn’t dispatched of in decidedly unkind fashion. As a guy who’s never committed homicide, what did it say about me as an artist, when you really looked at the body of work? Was I being honest? Was there even a blanket honesty to adhere to? Should I be writing about a man walking his dogs or going to dinner with his wife? These were questions not often asked in horror, but there I was, confronting the mirror and waiting for an answer. It was sort of like Jameson Parker’s last scene in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, as my finger drew closer and closer to the glass… or the portal to hell.
This episode led me to what one might call a sort of midlife crisis. Or, as close as a 40-going-on-18-year-old can get to one. Was I spending those hours doing work I was proud of? Was I properly serving the Muse? Be honest, I told myself. Nah. I was writing hundreds of thousands of words I’d never read again or show anyone, under an array of nom de plumes, selling old material from the shelf to be bastardised in various forms and mediums, playing under-written characters in under-produced TV movies. Sure, it was padding the wallet, but it wasn’t exactly bolstering the spirit. After a while, you’re on autopilot and only look at the decimal point. And that’s not why we take up this line of work. Art’s supposed to galvanise, not drain us. As I found out, when you treat it like a job, it soon feels like one. So what did I do? I did what any of you true believers out there would probably do. I pulled the plug on the bullshit, found the beaten path and rekindled my love for this madness. I think I just cashed my last royalty check for a while, but that’s okay. Things, as they say, are cooking and the pot’s coming to a boil. We’re dusting off the lights and cameras for a bloody little romp around year’s end and I’ll say more when I can, so keep an eye right here for the scoops. Until we meet again, remember: every creation run amok has a mad scientist who believed it could. That was off the top of my head, I kinda dig that. It’s good to be home.
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