The strength to say no

“The feminine soul-force contains a persuasive power that can nurture and induce cooperation from others, stilling disruptive energies by harmonizing differences in the spirit of collective good will.”

Clarity is essential. Well, okay, then I clearly have felt as if years of my life have been taken by others. Take this past week, for example,  with four requests for me to give away  my creative energy to projects I have no stake in. I am not being paid for my professional expertise and I’m not even interested in the subject. 

Why do people think they can just add their half-assed project to my plate? I mean really-am I supposed to continue giving away my time in this way? You’re not. Why do you expect me to?

I have put in the time that I needed to, in order to learn my craft. I only recently realized that I’m done with giving it away. I have put myself second for over 20 years. 

This is my biggest problem. Saying no and getting them to hear no. People I don’t even know send me their terrible scripts and horrendous treatments all the time. Most of the time, they haven’t even done the most basic research but  expect me to “work my magic.”  

Try presenting a project where you’ve really done the heavy lifting, showing professional and artistic commitment to the true creative process, because it’s your concept, not mine. 

Editors, “script” writers, wannabe producers and “directors” all hit me up. I give a lot of people my time, so I have no problem looking at a young artist’s you tube video, then sending a paragraph of feedback. 

I do have a problem telling someone very clearly what they need to do only to have them slough the actual work back onto me. Please don’t ask me to figure out where to cut 8 minutes when it’s fairly obvious that you haven’t even done the first editing 101 pass. 

It’s never just a little favor. They disrupt my day. I even tell one person what needs to be done for me to take on the analysis of his one-page synopsis. Instead of doing what I advised, he sends an entirely different project which is even more convoluted, asking me which I like better. How about neither?

Another person sent his script to me even though I said I didn’t have time or expertise to take it on. What does he do? Sends me another script. I tell him I have to get an agent before I read spec scripts (I don’t want to risk be accused of taking crappy ideas) and he then proceeds to give me unsolicited professional advice which would best serve his interests, of course. 

The delusional regard for one’s talent is something I can’t comprehend, I guess, being far more self-critical and exacting than I should be in my own work. But in this case I have no interest in reading a poorly written script called sexcapades. The cheesy name says it all.

I feel like saying: go find someone else to badger with your half-baked fantasies of making this piece of crap into a film or tv show. You can’t even flesh out your derivative idea. You don’t even have a story!  But you assure me that’s everyone is going to want it. Based on your faux-hype, this is the project I have been waiting for.
So I reluctantly say sure but I can only offer (a limited service as I need to do my own work), and always under-estimate the amount of time needed to read, review & give notes.
Then I get anxious, since it feels like my time is being frittered away. My background was founded on a wide-range of crazymaking experiences, much trial by error, years of paying my dues, and generously helping others, most of who never reciprocate.

 Lately, it’s been haunting me how much time I’ve lost to people like this over my career.

 I feel like I wish that I could rewind to get 10 years of my life back. The life I gave to my work, because it was survival. Freelance has a way of doing that to you. Making you starve for your art.

I realized this past week was not the way I want to proceed in my newly formed creative roadmap. Too many people made demands and I suddenly woke up and realized – The life I gave to other people’s advancement, I realize now, was at the direct expense of my own.
I wish I could find the right way to say no. 

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