Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Writer or Filmmaker? - Nick Mamatas - Biggest 'Ah-Ha!' Moments in Writing

     Do you wish to be a writer? Are you sure? I won't waste your time with yet another lecture about the inevitability of rejection and either poverty (for full-timers) or mere hobbyism (for writers who must keep their day jobs). I certainly won't pretend that only special people are worthy of becoming writers—all sorts of human filth manage to get published somehow. I really just mean to ask the question because many people don't wish to be writers, especially when it comes to horror and science fiction.

      Many aspiring writers really want to be filmmakers. Just as it is easier than ever to publish thanks to Kindle and POD, it is easier than ever to be a filmmaker. Film isn't even involved most of the time, thanks to digital video. No more long hours of trying to tape a half mile of plastic together to make a movie. You can shoot with your phone and edit with your PC and boom, you're a filmmaker! Of course, many aspiring filmmakers don't actually want to be filmmakers.

      Ultimately, too many aspiring writers and filmmakers really want to be...vampires. Or vampire-slayers. Or exorcists. Or sexy ghosts. Or werewolf bikers with a harem of stripper succubi. In science fiction, they want to own asteroid mining concerns, or fly into an anthopophilic version of outer space that is full of other human beings with funny forehead bones and high sex drives, or be a cyberpunk badass with futuristic kungfu and glowing energy knives.

      If you would rather be a filmmaker than a writer, I would encourage you to make films, even though they cost money to make and require a certain level of social intelligence as the medium is necessarily collaborative. Will your spouse make dinner for twenty people every night for twenty nights?

      If you really want to be a demon biker surrounded by topless models, well, you should just get a bike and learn how to talk to girls. If you wish you were a vampire, cut the carbs and invest in a velvet wardrobe. (Try not to be seen pushing a mower on your lawn in shorts and an old Britney Spears T-shirt on Sunday mornings though.) If you want to be a world-beating badass it's probably too late, but anyone can do push-ups and take Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes. But yes, do anything at all you wish to do. Just make sure you really want to write. It's the only way you'll ever get any good at it.

Bio taken from Nick Mamatas is the author of the Lovecraftian Beat road novel Move Under Ground, which was nominated for both the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild awards, the Civil War ghost story Northern Gothic, also a Stoker nominee, the suburban nighmare novel Under My Roof, and over thirty short stories and hundreds of articles (some of which were collected in 3000 Miles Per Hour in Every Direction at Once). His work has appeared in Razor, Village Voice, Spex, Clamor, In These Times, Polyphony, several Disinformation and Ben Bella Books anthologies, and the books Corpse Blossoms, Poe's Lighthouse, Before & After: Stories from New York, and Short and Sweet.
Nick's forthcoming works include the collection You Might Sleep... (November 2008) and Haunted Legends, an anthology with Ellen Datlow (Tor Books 2009).
A native New Yorker, Nick now lives in the California Bay Area.

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