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The Anti-Muse

Twenty years ago, my co-worker and friend shared the dream of being a powerhouse Hollywood producer/director team. We spent our time daydreaming about movies, kicking around story ideas, and then eventually working on our own little, short film.

It was a great time; we had a lot of fun for a couple of young twenty-year-olds running around with a MiniDV camera. The first movie was written following Robert Rodriguez’s advice “Find what you have access to and use it” and we figured it would be a great way to work out the kinks, learn about the equipment, and plan for much better movies down the road.

A freak ice storm cut our filming short, so we pivoted to our next project. I put together an outline and I wanted to end the short film with an impending alien invasion. I figured I had a ladder, and I could find some cardboard, so I’d cut two massive circles and allow the shadows coming across the actors to show the invasion beginning before cutting to black. My friend immediately trashed the idea.

To me, it was no big deal, I mean not all ideas are home runs and my idea was far from original, but I thought it would give me a more complicated shot to practice on. Nonetheless, I decided to move on from it, but before I started putting together another script, some family drama took over and I moved a state away.

Over the past twenty years, we’ve collaborated on a podcast and a couple of proposed websites and the entire time he’s pumped me up as being the “best writer he’s ever known.” I mean, that type of compliment goes a long way for a guy not used to getting compliments, but I realized today, I’ve been gaslit.

Outside of the first movie project we worked on, every single one of my ideas or content has been trashed by my friend. I’ve written articles for proposed websites of his (that never launched) and yet, even today, he took a shot at how I wrote the article. I began thinking back to everything from podcasts, photography, short stories, monologues for a play he was auditioning for, scripts and not one of them has been given any sort of praise over this time. It’s blown me away that I never noticed it until now, but this guy is my anti-muse.

I mean, if I’m honest, because I’ve given his opinion so much weight since we started out doing creative things together, and despite him not accomplishing anything outside of a bit of photography, I’ve literally let him derail me over and over again. I’ve let his critiques and comments dig their way into my head and made me give up on so much. I consider myself a pretty independent guy, but damn if I haven’t let someone control me in some weird way.

After our last interaction regarding something creative, I haven’t shared any information about anything I’ve been working on. Then we had a conversation this morning, about a post that I wrote two years about a NASCAR event I attended when I was nine years old for a website, he was trying to launch a while back. I realized someone people belong on the outside when you are being creative. Whether it’s jealousy, anger, arrogance, narcissism or whatever, they just don’t bring any value to the process.

I learned a lesson today, it might have taken me twenty years, but I’m glad it finally sunk in.

Published inSelf-Reflection

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