Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ode to a Thesis

The immortal Oscar Wilde once said, "There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

For a long time now - about a year - I have wanted to complete my screenplay. Born from screening a late-night, can't sleep documentary that somehow burrowed itself into my cranial cavity and set up shop, this one really meant something to me. Unlike so many earth-shattering ideas that I leave by the wayside, this story had meaning. It needed to be written.

And it needed me to write it.

Not unlike its predecessor, which I finished the year before, this particular screenplay was inspired by true (or semi-true) events and people whose stores fascinate. For me, many of these stories have been lost to time, and, for some reason, I feel an inexplicable duty to bring these stories to light.

My professors call it a thesis.

I? Call it a...well...calling.

So while more balanced people who are not presently living under the burden of magical thinking go out with friends or spend time with their families, I, with my self-imposed cognitive quest, bang away at the keyboard on this old-but-still-kickin' MacBook, churning out tales of people who actually went out and did things instead of just sitting around writing about them.

I sometimes feel this is my lot: to be the chronicler for people greater than myself. To ensure that their legacy, not mine, somehow stands the test of time while somewhere far-less-important, my bones turn to dust as bones are want to do.

It's not a wholly thankless job. Some writers who immortalize the epic works of others are remembered in their own right for style or grace or manner. Plato, for example, remains a household name, despite his literary efforts being largely a spirited retelling of the teachings of Socrates.

But I am no Plato.

And what I write? No treatise on Socrates.

And perhaps that's why I feel as I do presently.

For others, I am certain that penning the last line of what amounts to three years of your life and study, would elicit some sort of intense emotional or intellectual response. Some feeling of pride or relief or superiority or...something.

But I feel none of these things.

In truth, I feel nothing at all.

By definition, a thesis is a noun, specifically "A statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved: 'can you support your thesis?'."

Can I support my thesis?

It's an interesting question.

I think so. I mean, I've spent more time over the past year with these characters than I have with my parents, my siblings, and my closest friends. Maybe combined.

And why shouldn't I? They were born of their mothers but their actions played out in my brains.

I decided what they wore.

I decided what they said.

I decided what they did.

I decided when they died.

And for a codependent creative like me, that kind of power is the ultimate dream gift.

Because there's not a day that goes by where someone doesn't say or do or die in a way that I wouldn't somehow modify.

And I think that this would make me happy.

But it doesn't.

Because this level of control doesn't deliver any surprises. And, as everyone hopefully knows, when the good things do come, they are so much sweeter if they arrive, not by force and in the way you meticulously pre-imagined, but rather by kismet-ic, chaotic circumstance in an unidentifiable package.

Maybe that's why the pride won't come today. Or the relief. Or the superiority.

Maybe that's why Hemingway put a bullet through his brain. Because, after all, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

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