You can say “no”

2 Jul

Do you want to read my script? It’s not finished yet. I mean, the first draft is, but it’s very much a draft, and I’ve been half-assedly revising it for the past two months. It’s not great—I’m not even sure it’s any good, but there are actual words on the page, and some of them might make you smile. I’ve never written a script before, unless you count the modern take on Frankenstein I wrote in middle school. (The Undiscovered Prometheus. Now there’s a title people will flock to see!) Anyway, I could use some feedback—lots of feedback. So, do you want to read my script?

You can say “no.” I’d totally understand. And I realize this is maybe one of the most frustrating requests, because it’s pretty hard to deny. Saying “no” is an option in theory, but what does that really mean? No, I don’t care about your writing? No, I can’t take the time to read your work? The latter makes sense to me, logically. I am consistently bogged down with too much to read, and sometimes adding just one more piece to the pile is too daunting. But there is a weird obligation to say “yes,” right? There’s an expectation that if you offer to share your writing with someone, he or she is going to accept. And maybe not read it right away (or ever), but at least pretend to be interested. Not that you have to do that. You can say “no,” really!

I’m not even sure I want you to say “yes.” If you do actually want to read it, there’s probably an expectation that you’ll like it. Why would you offer to read something if you expect to hate it? (Unless you totally hate me, and you have a boner for criticizing your enemies. I get that.) I’m not just worried that you’re not going to like it—I’m worried that your disappointment will change your opinion of me forever. You thought I was funny. You thought I was a good writer. But this script, it’s shit. How can you read that and still hold the same opinion of me? I mean, if it’s really bad, you might even resent me for inflicting it on you. There’s a chance things will never be the same between us. So, yeah, I’m not even sure I want you to say “yes.”

If you do have constructive criticism, please be gentle. Like, really gentle. I know that’s a lot to ask, but I’m already anxious about what you have to say. I might break down if you tell me there’s a misplaced comma. Wow, that puts a lot of pressure on you! Now you don’t want to say anything at all. No, it’s OK, I can take it. I have to learn to take it. If I want to continue my career as a professional writer, I must accept criticism. It doesn’t help anyone if I never hear it—I have to learn from it and get better. It stings, though, no matter who says it and how. I feel insecure about most everything, but I am confident in myself as a writer. And then I hear that unkind word, and suddenly I’m not sure of anything. I’m going to deal with it. I’ll get over the anxiety. But that’s what I mean when I say “please be gentle.”

I’ve made things awkward. Damn it. Maybe you did want to read my script and you were prepared to offer some kind, constructive criticism, and I would have learned a lot from it and revised my work. Your input would have been invaluable. But now you’ve decided I’m too much drama. I don’t blame you. There are a whole lot of neuroses exposed in this word vomit. Please understand, though, that this is how I work through my issues. I have to put them down and explain it all or they will never go away. Writing is the first step to dealing. Still. Ugh. I’ve made things awkward.

So, do you want to read my script? You can say “no.”

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9 Responses to “You can say “no””

  1. cinemafanatic July 2, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Louis I’ll read your script!

  2. Neil Bolton July 2, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    I hate being critical, I’ll read it. Is it a TV or movie script though? I have much more experience in watching TV.

    • Louis Peitzman July 2, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

      It’s a TV script. I really do need criticism, though.

      • Neil Bolton July 2, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

        You have my email, I’ll give it a read and let you know what I think.

  3. jbenick July 2, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    I’d like to read your script. I’d offer only constructive criticism, if necessary. So, if you’re up for having a complete stranger read it, let me know.

  4. blacklisted July 6, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    I would like to read it!

  5. Satan July 6, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    i actually would like to read it.
    i’m an editor, so i do that whole editing, constructive criticism thing. feel free to click through to my blog and email me!

  6. Josh V July 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Yes.

  7. Cindy Buckley July 12, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    I really enjoy your twitter and blog, and I’d love to read it.

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