There is something I have come to learn over the years: I am very lucky. My life is good. I love my job, and it gives me opportunities that most people would never imagine. But I'm also a human being, and one who is never fully satisfied, so even within this life - which is largely a dream come true - there are major dissatisfactions and moments of intense disappointment and feelings of opportunities destroyed.
But I've also learned something else: don't complain about that stuff. At least not on Twitter or in my writing or anything like that. See, many of the people to whom I'm complaining would be psyched to have my problems, and my whining comes across only as the ugly tears of a spoiled jerk. Yeah, covering Sundance can be a huge pain in the ass, but it sure beats working.
Someone needs to explain this lesson to Daniel H Wilson, who has written the most tone-deaf essay of the day. It's published at io9, and it tells the 'soul-crushing' story of how four of his books have been optioned for movies... and none have been made! Yet!
Here's a sample of his pain:
Then my stomach gets all hurty and I usually go lay in bed for awhile to process the fact that I'm not going to ride wave runners with Mike Myers.
In his next sentence he expresses that he understands he can't ask for your sympathy, but then you have to wonder why he wrote the goddamned thing in the first place. That's sort of the cherry on the whining sundae - he knows that nobody will feel sorry for him, and that's part of what hurts so much!
I'm betting that many of us would be thrilled to have four published books. Most of us would be psyched to earn a living doing something like writing crummy, trend-oriented swill (Bro-Jitsu: The Martial Art of Sibling Smackdown, How to Survive A Robot Uprising) intended for the impulse buy section of the bookstore check-out. And I think all of us would be over the moon to have FOUR OF OUR BOOKS, AND ONE OF OUR SHORT STORIES AS WELL, optioned for movies. Because that option comes with a check, and it's quite probable that Wilson has made thousands of dollars from never having a book made into a movie.
Imagine if you made maybe fifty to a hundred thousand dollars for doing nothing. And then wrote an essay to complain about that, while trying to sell copies of your new (previously optioned for thousands of dollars!) novel to people sitting at cubicles all day.
Now, I do get the idea that it's disappointing to not have your book become a movie. Setting aside the low quality of Wilson's work, any writer must be thrilled, in some way, to imagine a great Hollywood movie version of their story. It has to be a bummer to see that hope deflated again and again. As a human being I know what that feels like, because we've all had good things happen to us and then been disappointed that these good things weren't even better. It's the guy in business class moaning about how he's not in first class.
But most of us sit back and realize how lucky we are to have that good thing in the first place. I mean, think of the plus side to Wilson's situation: he doesn't have shitty movies based on his books (although quality does not seem to be his main interest. Toys are what he's into). Many writers have to live with horrible adaptations of their work, and with the knowledge that more people will know the bad movie than the original book. What's more, Wilson can option the books again! Except for Robopocalypse, his latest movie to fall apart, Wilson has the rights back to all his work. Many creators find themselves stranded on the outside, with someone else controlling the rights to what they made. I can name a bunch of modern comic book creators who found out that their characters were being used in movies when they read about it online. Wilson can make easy money in the future by letting someone else option the book. I wish I had a magic $50,000 generating thing laying around.
If Wilson was really serious about being a writer, he'd take this stuff and write not an essay, but a new book. He'd figure out how to work his feelings into fiction. And then he could option the resulting work, How to Survive a Robo-Dinosaur Pirate Invasion From The Future, for a few grand and take a vacation on a beach someplace.