Self-sabotage: how have you gotten in your own way?

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  • Self-sabotage: how have you gotten in your own way?

    I was relating an anecdote in a different thread, and a few people suggested it would make a good topic, so here goes. My most mortifying, unforgivable instance of self-sabotage came years ago, when I put up a post for a road novel I had written on a website where the publishing industry hangs out and where film people come looking for material. I got one response: "Hi, I work for Heyday Films, we produce the Harry Potter films and we would like to buy the film rights to your book. Call me at..." So I call the woman up and proceed to have an out-of-body experience, during which I'm hovering above the room and I can see myself sitting at my desk explaining to the woman that "my novel is so internal that I just don't see how anyone could possibly turn it into a film." Needless to say, I never heard from her again.

    Another one was a close-call: after shopping my crime novel around for over a year to no avail, I finally get an offer from a top publisher in crime fiction, and I was literally debating whether or not they were a good fit for me because I didn't like the FONT on some of their titles. But I accepted the offer (before I got it, I was doing all sorts of visualization exercises to will it into being, as Jazzed suggested in a post), and now I am trying very hard, on a near daily basis, not to push that big red button in front of me called SELF-SABOTAGE (there was a hilarious Far Side strip about a red button).

    So what is that: fear of success? Hilariously misplaced sense of self-importance and "artistic integrity?"

    With screenwriting, I blew my chances at representation years ago with a rep who really liked my writing but wanted to take my script in a different direction. I was new to this whole racket back then, and didn't realize that developing a script with a rep is par for the course. No, no, I had to stay true to my vision.

    Anyway, let's hear your stories. But I seriously doubt anyone here can top my stupidity with the Harry Potter people.

  • #2
    Oh I can almost match the Harry Potter story. I was a finalist at Austin like ten years ago and a big agent at IPG wrote me out of the blue, asking to read my finalist script. My screwy mentor at the time had gotten it in my head that I wasn't ready to be read by that kind of agent yet, so I told her it needed a rewrite and could I send it after I did that. She never responded, of course.

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    • #3
      Nicely done
      I think people in creative fields have a mixture of tremendous ego and crippling insecurity. Anyone?

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      • #4
        Doubting my instincts. Most recently I doubted my instinct to write the (unfinished) novel in first person and actually started rewriting it in third person.

        Halfway through rewriting page one, an inner voice said: WTF? Stop this crap.

        Self doubt and self sabotage are a b1tch

        .
        Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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        • #5
          Writing what the reps WANTED me to write instead of TRUSTING MYSELF.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by sc111 View Post
            Doubting my instincts. Most recently I doubted my instinct to write the (unfinished) novel in first person and actually started rewriting it in third person.

            Halfway through rewriting page one, an inner voice said: WTF? Stop this crap.

            Self doubt and self sabotage are a b1tch

            .
            I have written from both POVs and I love them both. I find that it just comes to you intuitively. So you were right to go with your initial gut feeling. Of course you can do both, too, some novelists like to mix it up.

            I love those choices with prose, but I also love that with screenwriting, it's boom, right there, present tense, on the page / screen, writing what you see.

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            • #7
              I had a lot badge at one of the big 5 studios for over a year. I was an administrative assistant temp, working various short-term assistant assignments for people in every facet of the business. I worked for name brand actors and some of the top people in their film setup. That type of access is invaluable. I wasn't very proactive though and didn't leverage my position into lasting contacts. If I could go back and do it all over again, I'm sure I could get more out of it. On the other hand, I was so young and green back then that I really wasn't ready for any type of career. I'm actually almost relieved that I didn't have more exposure, as I only would've shot myself in the foot. I'm at peace with it. It was still a great and surreal experience.

              Beyond that, just the typical mistakes. I think every writer is destined to blow opportunities by sending material that isn't ready for the marketplace. I had a huge guy at Three Arts offer to read one of my scripts when I was somewhat hot off a contest placement. The piece I sent him was just an absolute stinker. That still makes me cringe a bit.

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