Thursday, September 16, 2010

Go Into The Story: David Milch: "The Writer's Voice" (Part 4)

Go Into The Story continues their series of great Milch excerpts. Today, humility and "parenting" the material:
I’m sure that a lot of you want to know what gets you “in” [the entertainment industry]. And the answer is this: If you generate a passionate, humble connection with your work, you’re in. And the paradox is that you don’t need whatever you thought you needed, and when you don’t need it, that’s when they want you. But them wanting you is, by that time, an utter irrelevancy. When I said, “The price sometimes is terrible,” of trusting in the world, of turning over our manuscripts, of offering up our child—a sustained commitment to the enterprise that you’ve begun sometimes has a terrible, terrible price. There are all sorts of distractions and accommodations made available to us in our journey, to take a lesser path rather than absolute loyalty and devotion to the separate life of our work.

The extraordinary thing for me as a parent was that every day my child taught me more. When we had another child, it was geometrically more. You think that your heart will burst if there’s any more love. And it just keeps growing, and that’s what will happen with your engagement with material, to the extent you are able to sustain a selfless connection with it.

The process will be variable, and there will be days when it’s not so good, and there’s deep instruction in that as well. If you keep coming back in humility—without wanting to belabor the analogy—as a parent, then you can’t ever say, “Okay, that’s it.” Even if you say it, it doesn’t stop. Even if you blow town, it doesn’t stop. If you say it’s over, that’s okay, but the child still lives.

As much as one aspires to selflessness in connection with the work—and selflessness does not mean the denial of the self—whatever our heads are telling us is ultimately irrelevant to the living thing, the living breathing thing with which you have entered into a kind of parental responsibility for a little while. And then, at a certain point, it [the thing] gets up and runs away from you.

I remember the first time that happened to me. At first I was terrified, and then I thought I could fly. You’ve entered into a connection with something else, which is not limited by your selfhood.