Monday, April 06, 2015

Eavesdropped Quotes, Hidden Thoughts and the Decision To Do Something about It

I went to WonderCon this weekend.  It's a comic book convention that's put on by the same people that put on Comic-Con in San Diego every year.  Except it's smaller and still focused mainly on comic books, science fiction, the artwork, writers and artists.  
I was tweeting some of the things I heard people say to each other as I was walking through the convention.  One, for instance...
"The only thing I can give you, Henry, is piles of corpses."
I thought they might be talking about one of those massive, online video role-playing games.  At least, I hope that's what they were talking about.  
"It just wasn't a good parking lot experience."
I could understand this one.  It's the implication that the woman saying this rated her efforts to find parking that I found interesting.  
And this one...
"Do you sometimes think you're too old to be doing..."  Followed by vague hand gestures in the air to indicate the totality of what was going on.  
This was from a friend of mine that I'd met in college who'd come down to go to the convention.  He's been a comic book and sci-fi nerd like me for as long as we've known each other.  He's written his first comic book that's he's working on completing and getting published.  He came to the convention to geek-out, like me.  But he was also hoping to learn more about what he needs to do to get work in the industry, also like me.  
My answer to him was a succinct as I could make it.  No.  I didn't think I was too old.  I'm doing what I'm doing because I enjoy doing it.  If you enjoy doing it, then let that be the reason for doing it and...
It was at this moment someone got their head twisted off on The Walking Dead, which was on the TV in the hotel room.  We didn't come back to question after the gross-out.  
To give a longer and less succinct answer, sure...  I wonder if I've taken too long to get to where I want to be.  Or, perhaps more precisely, I wonder if I've taken so long that the gate-keepers out there will look past me to pick younger, presumably hungrier and more "hip to the world" (if that dates me send me the currently used phrase and I'll insert it) than I am.  
"They keep picking the younger ones..."  
This I heard on a panel called The Art of the Pitch.  A panel about how to pitch a story in the TV industry.  One of the themes behind the panel's message was that you don't pitch your story, you pitch yourself.  Take what makes you unique, something that will make the producers, directors, story editors and/or show-runners you're pitching to empathize with you.  It's the part of you that's in the story you wrote.  
Toward the end, they started taking volunteers to give them a one minute pitch about themselves.  I was sitting in the front row and heard that being said.  I started turning around to get a look at the people being chosen.  It seemed to be true, though not entirely true.  There was a freshman in college who had been bullied into believing that she didn't deserve what she wanted.  A young Morman woman who pitched about how she was staying true to her faith while still pursuing a career in TV and motion pictures.  The oldest one was a woman who was a planetary scientist, who wondered how she could bring that up even if her story had not a single drop of planetary science in it.  
I didn't try to volunteer, so I can't say I was rejected.  I have been thinking about the advice from this panel.  About pitching myself.  
It's really what anyone who dreams of doing something does every time they do it.  It's really what everyone does every single day to everyone else around them.  A desire to be notice.  To be accepted.  To have people feel for you enough that the close the gap between you and them.  
"Someone falls into a hole.  To sympathize is to look into the hole and say, 'that's too bad.  To empathize is to get get down into the hole with them and say, 'I've been here before, too.'"
That was from one of the panelists at the Art of the Pitch panel.  
I've been struggling to figure out how to pitch myself since then.  What makes me unique?  What drives me?  What brings me to life?  
I think it should be easier for me than it is.  I've lived long enough to figure these things out.  But my brain couldn't seem to put anything together.  And I really felt that I should be able to put something together.  
"Consider the air cleared."  
I heard this from another friend of mine.  An artist that now works for an animation studio as a storyboard artist.  His dream job.  He'd come to WonderCon as well.  We went to dinner after we talked about an opportunity to my attention to get some work.  I was grateful.  It is something I want to do.  But...  There is this history, you see?  The relationship between us has been strained because of how our working relationship came to an end.  
While talking about inconsequential things over our meal, I found myself facing my hesitation over accepting his help.  Something in my thinking became clearer.  
More than my age, which I couldn't change even if I wanted to, the thing that I needed to address was my "Be-ing" nature versus my "Do-ing" nature.  It is my contention that there are two types of people/characters in the world.  There are "Doers," these are people whose impulse when they encounter a problem or obstacle is to take action to change or remove it.  In contrast to them, there are "Be-ers."  These are people who adapt to the circumstances, find ways to deal with it, who endure.  
Being one over the other is not better or worse.  There are times and situations when the best course is to take action, and when you just need to be patient, adapt and wait it out.  This is about someone's base inclination and, more importantly, when it it's time to change to tactics you are not automatically inclined to thing of using.  
I am basically a Be-er.  Ask anyone who knows me.  I've been told I have the patience of a saint.  I think, though, that now it would be better for me to pick up the fire brand of a crusader.  
I took that realization and used it to do something.  I told my friend my feelings had been over what had happened before, and how I was feeling about it now.  I told him that it was important that he understand where I was coming from before he continued extending his offer to me.  
He did.  He was aware that I was not feeling positive toward him.  He didn't know the exact reasons.  He offered his opinion that I should get paid for what I do.  I said to him, "I appreciate that.  I just didn't want to accept any help until I'd cleared the air between us."  
That's when he replied with the quote I wrote down above.  
This was the breaking point.  The climax of the story.  We talked some more about various things.  I kept noticing that I was feeling lighter.  My nervousness, which I couldn't understand before, was gone.  All the things I'd heard throughout the convention, all the advice the panelists gave, all the points of view I had encountered talking to other writers and artists, all seemed to make sense.  
Except for the thing about the corpses.  I still don't get that.  
So...  Here it is.  My pitch.  
Hi.  I'm Erick.  I'm a 54 year old nerd that beings practicing at it for about 40 of those years.  I'm into spaceships, aliens, the idea that something lives in the shadows of my room and the belief we don't escape from reality into this realm as we do revel in an alternate dimension to find the power to change or endure what reality inflicts on us.  I am the wizened old shaman of the tribe, who has seen and imagined more things than those that are just starting out on their path.  I will do my best to bring that wisdom to whatever project I put my magic to.  
That's my pitch.  Hope you like it.  


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