Thursday, April 03, 2003

Intelligence cannot be measured by knowledge. Rather, it should be measured by an individual's willingness and effort to expand his knowledge as he sees fit, and put his knowledge to use daily.

Whenever I begin to feel that I am not doing anything with my life, I read either The Day I Became an Autodidact or The Teenage Liberation Handbook, both of which are books about taking control of your own education. Both books begin with the assumption that education and schooling have nothing to do with one another, a concept I adore. After an exchange with Angie (who, by the way, I consider extremely intelligent, even if I don't agree with her on anything), I began to question whether I was living up to my own expectations. Because I'd given "The Bible" (Grace Llewelyn's Teenage Liberation Handbook) to Lauren last year, feeling that at 14 she needed it far more than I, I settled down with Kendall Hailey to read about her life as an autodidact once again.

As usual, I am inspired to greatness. In answer to that inspiration, I took a long bath and forgot about bills and paperwork for an hour. When I left the haven of the bathroom, I wondered briefly at myself for getting so worked up over a filthy bathroom sink yet refusing to clean it, and then started to think about my short film. It only exists on paper so far, but I've had my first semi-professional feedback and am still reeling three days later. (To the few of you who read this and have also read my script, I value your feedback immensely and have already made some changes based on your suggestions; all of the notes I received this week were about parts of the story that none of you touched on, so I feel that your comments were invaluable.) Three people read the script, which I had sent to work with Will under a false name. I assumed, correctly, that my readers were be more honest if they didn't know it was mine. Two people thought it was hilarious and urged Will to read it, giving notes on things that I definitely agree could be improved. My favorite feedback came from an intern at Will's office who hated the screenplay, feeling that the story was unclear. He is a film student, and of course believes that there is a proper way to tell a story and if it lacks certain elements it is flawed. My script lacks every one of those elements, and I could not be more delighted to be told that.

Gertrude Stein said once (and Kendall Hailey quoted) that she wrote for herself and strangers. This could only possibly be said to be true of me if those strangers are of the zombie-film-lover pursuasion already. This is, I think, slightly peculiar of me, since I don't even watch horror movies very often (unless they are made by Peter Jackson or star Bruce Campbell), but Will has said that it is my lack of knowledge of "the rules" that makes me a good genre writer, and he is the only critic whose opinion matters to me in the long run. He may not be a stranger, but he is certainly strange, in the genius way.

If anyone has a few thousand dollars and is harboring a secret desire to make short films, call me. I've got a great project for you to invest in, as soon as I finish some minor rewrites.