Monday, September 11, 2006

fudge figures out where it's at

aaron sorkin.

no, seriously. i was reading his interview in the times today. aaron sorkin, that 'celebrated writer of the most widely-acclaimed television series in film history,' whose new sitcom - the premise of which sounds rehashed to me - 'is highly anticipated not because of its premise or even its cast, but solely because it is the work of mr. sorkin.'

stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

i feel like that micky mouse cartoon. you know the one. waaaaaaay back in the twenties, when mickey mouse was just a leggy little steamboat pilot (can you be a steamboat pilot? maybe he was a steamboat captain?) actually, i think he was dreaming of becoming a steamboat pilot. well, that is me. i'm telling you, there were little stars in my eyes as i read this article.

'of course, life is rather busy for mr. sorkin these days,' ran the general gist of it, 'as he is being flown out on location for the movie he is currently adapting. also he must oversee the production of his new play, which is already a smashing success, if only because he wrote it.'

'gee!' went a little voice in my head, sounding not unlike mickey mouse himself. 'i'll bet it sure would be nice to have his job. yes-sir-ree, having the whole country breathlessly waiting while you write up whatever story you want and getting flown out to watch people film it and being interviewed by sycophantic reporters, that's the life for me!'

unpleasant drug problems aside, sorkin does seem to have it made in the shade. what could be more fun than just sitting around writing up snippy bits of dialogue? and as the new york times solemnly reminds us, 'mr. sorkin does not work cheap.'

yet i know very, very well that there may be millions of others out there doing exactly what he does and barely making a living.

i realize this is what you need day jobs for, of course, but increasing exposure to the actual responsibilities of a journalist have brought me to an unsettling conclusion: i'm really not cut out to be one. news journalists, like political commentators, must possess a keen sense of curiousity, at once comprehending the structure of the world around them and instinctively detecting its weaknesses and loopholes. i myself am so clueless that i actually tend to fall through them. i could not detect my way out of a paper bag. anyone who has had to listen to me plan the defense of my traffic ticket will be able to tell you this.

more importantly, perhaps, i have no desire for those kinds of abilities. i've always been happy living in my head, and i don't want to come out. i tend to attribute more importance to little, day-to-day things, like the type of hat my professor wears or the way a friend structures her conversations, than Big Ideas like Reflections on the September 11th Anniversary and How To Get Out of Iraq and Will The Democrats Regain the Senate.

in those arenas, i fall short, because while i agree that they are important, they're too big for me to comprehend, too big to make sense of.

yet here i am, bumbling along in my journalism degree anyway, urging people to write articles about topics with which i am only passingly acquainted, because Everybody Needs A Day Job.

i wonder if this is how people rise to their level of incompetency. does everyone spend their lives working jobs they are mediocre at, because there seems to be no market for the skills that mean the most to them?

or can't we grab one of aaron sorkin's dreamy opportunities?


Blogger PsychoToddler said...

having the whole country breathlessly waiting while you write up whatever story you want

Ahh...the life of a blogger...

2:43 PM  
Blogger Ralphie said...

Perhaps you should be a philosophy major instead...

2:58 PM  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Yeah, Ralphie, and that pays the bills *how?* I have a B.A. in French. That and fifty cents won't even get you onto the subway. Fair warning: Foreign-language skills are strictly ancillary. If you want to make a living with them, you must either (in descending order of glamourousness) (a) get additional education and/or training and become an interpreter, (b) get additonal education and/or training and become a translator, (c) become a teacher, (d) type 80 words per minute. I didn't have the patience to continue my education or to work with 30 kids at a time, and my fine-motor coordination was never *that* good. That's why I can no longer understand spoken French, though I can still read it.

Back when he was pre-k (pre-kid), the Punster used to enjoy teaching Israeli folk dancing. I'm sorry to say that he *lost* money doing what he loved, which would account for him still being an accountant.

"does everyone spend their lives working jobs they are mediocre at, because there seems to be no market for the skills that mean the most to them?" I think that, for many people, the answer is "yes." I've known folk dance teachers who went into computers, actors who went into stock marker investment brokerage, singers who retrained as bookkeepers, not to mention people who've been forced into early retirement because the jobs that they loved were in fields in which most employment opportunities have vanished.

Fortunate, indeed, are those who can actually make a living doing what they love. For the rest of us, as you were saying, "Everybody Needs A Day Job."

8:37 PM  
Blogger 30cal said...

'having the whole country breathlessly waiting while you write up whatever story you want'...

...and now, novel writing, from wessex, it's country folk-boy thomas hardy with his new novel 'return of the native', and now he turns to acknowledge this ver good-natured bank-holiday crowd...

...first word- oh and its not a word- its a doodle! a piece of meaningless scribble- oh dear, and he's signed his name on it...

11:45 AM  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I have about 30 seconds to do this before Yom Kippur—please forgive me for being The Queen of Negative Thinking and raining on your parade, as the old saying goes. (Oy. Sorry.)

It also occurred to me this morning, in a rare flash of brilliance, that you may be barking up the wrong tree. You may not be interested in political analyis, hard-news reporting, or “ambulance-chasing,” but you’d make a wonderful daily-life columnist. An Irma Bombeck for the Orthodox Jewish community, anyone? There is, indeed, a place for kol isha (a woman’s voice) in the Frumeh Velt (Orthodox world).

9:32 AM  
Blogger parcequilfaut said...


I'm older than you by about a decade, give or take, and I still have that Aaron Sorkin debate going on.

I write novels. One day I may get one published and become a glamorous media darling, noted for my curious reluctance to leave Nashville for any length of time, doing phone interviews with the New York Times Review of Books, spending all day at home with my cats and my computer except when I venture out for lunch.

That's not likely. That's why they call it a "dream".

Nor is it likely that I'll ever make enough money to live on teaching dance, tutoring math, or doing any of the other things I'm good-at-and-love. So I picked a profession with regular hours that pays, so I have time to do the other thing. I like the field I'm in (law); I've always liked it. It's interesting, and I'm a better writer than John Grisham (ugh), so who knows?

The thing to do is to figure out what you can live off that, while it may not be the Aaron Sorkin dream, will let you pursue the Aaron Sorkin dream while still having something useful to put on your resumé. Most professional storytellers, even before the modern period, had another job that paid the bills first; Hawthorne worked as a clerk in the Customs House, which had to have been mind-numbing.

Don't let the ASD go, because other people have done it and you've got a shot. But don't spend a whole bunch of money on an education that will turn out to put you in a job that will take up so much of your time with doing it and hating doing it that you'll not have the time or mental energy left to pursue the Big Dream.

I don't know if that makes any sense, since I just got off a ridiculous day at the law office. But I do have a suggestion for you: do National Novel Writing Month this year. It made me believe in my own abilities again, even if the book I produced last NaNo has serious flaws.

It'll work itself out, girl. Keep dreaming big and thinking smart.

4:15 PM  
Blogger outofAMMO said...

This is uninspiring..

5:10 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home