Josh Barkey... Lazy Pants?

My friend Austin says I'm a lazy writer, and he's usually right about these sorts of things.

If you want to make good art, you've got to tell the truth - so if I'm lazy, then I ought to admit it. But with all the friends and family who've been cheering me on over these past two years of full-time writing, it'd be embarrassing to have to admit that I've not used that time particularly well.

Naturally, then, my inclination is denial. Ergo, I've compiled a list of my accomplishments over the (as of today) preceding twenty-four months. Without further doo-doo...

Since June One, Two Thousand and Twelve, I have:
  1. Posted to this blog over four hundred and fifty times.
  2. Read around fifty novels.
  3. Written my first novel.
  4. Written three-quarters of my second novel. 
  5. Written five or six new short stories.
  6. Edited, rewritten, did the cover art, laid out, and self-published my first book - a short story collection I call "IMMORTALITY (and other short stories)."
  7. Marketed said book out the wazoo, and watched as it inched it's way to like number 500,000 on the Amazon bestseller list.
  8. Attended a weekend-long seminar on existential film at an Arts conference in New Mexico.
  9. Read over two hundred and fifty film scripts.
  10. Watched over two hundred and fifty movies.
  11. Written ten short films.
  12. Acted as full producer (which included overseeing a kickstarter campaign) for one of those short films, LOCKER 212.
  13. Assisted in getting two more of those short films in the can, TWO FOR TEA and GNOMES (for which I'm sorta-kinda giving myself a co-Director credit).
  14. Written notes on ten or fifteen scripts (shorts and features) for friends, including a few full polish-passes and one complete re-write. 
  15. Written four new feature-length film scripts (and re-written them countless times).
  16. Written a treatment and the first twenty pages for a fifth feature-length film script... a script which I actually got myself hired to write.
  17. Worked out most of the major story beats for a sixth feature-length film script. 
  18. Put up with every conceivable kind of vituperative language from my dear, sweet, succulent friend, Mr. Austin "I'm-Always-Right" Herring.
I know, I know. Sounds like I've not been lazy at all, doesn't it? But grant, for the moment, the possibility that I nonetheless am lazy - just that a lot of people who call themselves artists are even lazier.

Also, I've left out an important bit of context... which is that Austin doesn't say I'm lazy about actually sitting down to write - just that when I do sit down to write, he thinks I'm lazy about making myself write well - or at least, as well as he thinks I'm capable of writing. Austin's been working with me to develop this script that he and I beat out the story for about a year and a half ago, and he's been yelling at me mostly for avoiding conflict in  my scenes. I'll created these great moments with HUGE potential for serious conflict, he says, and then I'll fizzle it - just let my characters off easy. He says it's because I'm lazy. Because I don't want to work as hard as it takes to write as well as I can.

And he's right.

Sort of.

I don't want to work that hard. It hurts my brain and it hurts my heart and why-oh-why can't my first (or fourth) drafts just be good enough? Why isn't it okay to ignore the voice in my head that's telling me that this or that scene is boring, or dry, or flat?

The answer, I guess, is that I need to tell the truth.

First to myself, then to my readers.

But it hurts.

It hurts so-so-so bad.

And I'm afraid.

That, unfortunately, is the deep-down-dark secret of this story. That contrary to what Austin thinks, I'm not actually too lazy to do the hard thing... I'm scared. I'm scared to make my characters suffer horribly. I'm scared to get them into serious predicaments that I don't know the way out of. I'm scared that I'll fail and they won't get out and they'll be stuck in limbo, wallowing in freakish misery... forever. I'm afraid of trying to tell the truth about myself and about the world as I experience it... but not quite making it. Because who will love me, then?

Maybe that's what laziness is.

Maybe it's just another word for fear of failure. Fear of being tried, tested, and found unworthy.

Maybe that's why so many people just won't do hard things.

I'm not a lazy-pants - I'm a scaredy-cat. And even though I don't really know how to stop being such a scaredy-cat all the time, I have to say (Dear Austin) that I am trying. I am trying to love myself enough and to believe enough in the possibility of unconditional love that I can keep pushing through the pain toward the truth.

Here's hopin'.


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