Friday, December 18, 2009

Dealing with a Friday F**k You situation

Fifteen years ago [yikes], the Judge Dredd movie starring Sylvester Stallone wrapped production at Shepperton Studios. There were long months of post to follow, special effects to be created, re-shoots to be filmed and more. Maybe people working on the picture had a feeling it was going to be a hit the following summer, maybe they didn't. Nobody knows anything, right?

Anyway, it was during production that I first heard of the Friday Fuck You. My boss was 2000AD's point man for dealing with the film, he fielded many of the random calls, requests and what have you that came from Shepperton or Los Angeles. Late one Friday evening he got a call from one of the producers, who sounded like a real cigar chomping megalomaniac. There was a problem.

I can't recall the nature of the problem, and it doesn't matter for the purposes of this anecdote. The producer perceived the issues as coming from us, and it was now getting dumped on to him. He asked if this as a 'Friday Fuck You' phone call, where somebody dumps a big, fat steaming pile of shit problem on to you last thing on a Friday, before vanishing for the weekend.

You spend the next few days spitting tacks but, eventually, your anger subsides. Come Monday morning, tempers will have cooled enough from the Friday Fuck You phone call for everybody to have moved on. Ideally, you want the FFY to be left as a message, enabling the dumper to make a clean getaway while the person getting dumped on deals with the FFY phone call's fallout.

Now that we have email, the FFY is so much easier. Compose a carefully worded email, wait until one minute before you're due to leave the building, hit SEND - and run. No muss, no fuss. It's especially effective if you've got to simultaneously got inform a lot of people that they haven't gotten a job, a place on a workshop or another coveted opportunity. SEND - and run.

The problem with an FFY email comes with being one of the recipients. Getting a Friday Fuck You can turn your exciting weekend into long days and nights of homicidal sulking, cat kicking and relationship raddling. So, here's a few tips on how to cope with getting a Friday Fuck You email. First of all, don't take it personal. [Easy to type, much harder to do.]

Don't look on it as a rejection, but as evidence maybe you weren't ready for this opening. Was your submission the very best thing you've ever done? Better than the dozens or even hundreds of other people's submissions? You'll never know, so don't torture yourself contemplating. Move the fuck on. You didn't get it, that's over, find something else on which to focus.

If you're a writer, you can't depend on others for validation - that's the path of madness, folks. Validate yourself, take responsibility for your own work. Concentrate on the things you can control or influence - your choice of story, your levels of skill and enthusiasm, the amount of effort you put in. Don't send stories out before they're ready, that just invites a FFY.

Remember that a lot of openings are driven by subjective judgements. I can guarantee your writing will not be beloved by everyone all the time. You will hear NO far more often than you hear that beautiful word, yes. Deal with it. Sulking isn't helpful, it isn't pretty, and won't get you want you most desire [unless you enjoy pissing off your nearest and dearest.]

Now, there is one long-term response that will probably serve you best of all. It's no use on the day you get a Friday Fuck You email, but might help later: success is the best revenge. Try harder, write better, improve your skills, redouble your efforts, refocus your strategy - and you will eventually succeed [talent permitting]. When you do, remember that FFY.

Remember the burning pit of angst and self-hatred that threatened to scorch your soul and psyche. Remember the lurch of disappointment, the quiet whimper of despair as hope was crushed, the venomous urge to hunt downl those reponsible for your rejection. Now, smile. You won through, despite everything. You proved something to yourself, and that's what counts.

Lastly, don't begrudge other people their successes. Be happy for them. Jealousy and envy are cancer of the soul for writers. They will eat you up and spit you back out, bitter and jaded and no good to anyone, especially yourself. Celebrate the successes of your writer friends. One day you'll having that glorious moment, if you work hard enough. FFY? Get over it. Onwards!

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