Monday, March 10, 2008

Writing Partner broke up with me

There's something I've been meaning to talk about for some time but didn't want hurt someone's feelings. As of this afternoon that's no longer an issue so I'm finally free to discuss it without repercussions.

This will be long.

When I met Writing Partner I was in turmoil. I was right in the middle of my chaotic period, when I felt like I couldn't get a grip on who I was or what I was supposed to do or how to handle my relationships with men.

Then I met WP and he said he was completely happy with himself. He said he'd figured out how to love himself and he could teach me. He had all the answers to life.

So I started letting him tell me how to live my life. And when I forgot to pay a bill he nagged me over and over and made me feel like a loser. So when I accidentally forgot to pay a bill I didn't tell him about it because I didn't want to get yelled at. When he found out he called me a liar and told me he couldn't trust me anymore. I told him it wasn't his business. He reminded me that he was just trying to help me be a better person and I was ungrateful.

Things like that were supposed to make me a happier person.

And sometimes I enjoyed spending time with him. Sometimes he was nice to me. He'd say these amazingly sweet things right after he made me feel like a worm. I already felt bad about myself so it was easy for me to believe that he was right, that I was a loser and a liar and a weak person. He even used that word.

"I'm a strong person," he told me once. "You're not. You're weak. I'm sorry, but you are."

He stayed with me a while, then moved away. We still talked on the phone. Then we started writing.

Writing sessions were shouting matches first. He would tell me I did something wrong and I would get defensive and finally after half an hour of psychologically damaging each other we'd finally put down some really good pages.

I was a wreck every time I talked to him because I was waiting for him to tell me what horrible thing I'd done now. He'd tell me my writing style was just no good and any producer would never hire me, then just when I was getting pissed off he'd apologize and tell me how good the story turned out in the end.

Then when I decided to film Game Night I turned to him for advice. He constantly talked about what he learned in film school. He constantly reminded me that I did not go to film school. I took a few of his suggestions, I decided against a few others. Any time I decided not to take his advice he told me he didn't understand why I disrespected him so much.

He asked me to play Eric. He told me all the time what a great actor he is. On his last film the producer and director constantly turned to him for advice. He was the only thing that saved the project. They were lucky to have him.

So I told him he could play Eric.

I gave him one request about being on set - please don't call me out in front of the cast and crew. If he didn't like something I was doing, he could pull me aside and tell me privately and I'd heed his advice or not, but I didn't want him questioning my authority in front of everyone else since this was my first time directing. I knew how much he liked to give me advice, whether I'd asked for it or not.

The first thing he did on set? He started questioning my decisions out loud, in front of everyone. I tried to ignore it, although I'm sure my irritation showed. It made me defensive, as usual when dealing with WP. I'm sure I started disagreeing with him to intentionally show everyone I was still in command.

He said I picked on him. At lunch I asked him to talk to the PA, who was already at Subway, and tell her what he wanted. He grabbed my wrist.

"No," he said. "Not until you tell me why you're being so hard on me."

"I'm not being hard on you. Please just tell her what you want for lunch."

He was pulling my wrist tight. It hurt. I tried to push the phone into his hand instead. "No," he said. "You're being mean to me. Why?"

"Just tell her what you want for lunch."

"Not until you tell me why you're picking on me!"

I started yelling. "I'm not picking on you, goddammit, I'm directing! Now tell her what the fuck you want on your sandwich and shut the fuck up!"

He came back later and apologized.

Then he went back home to a land far away. We kept working on Bamboo Killers. He decided to change one of his chapters - called "Seed of Power" - and emailed the new version to me and asked me to read it. At the moment there's not much we can do with the script and it's close to finished so I've been in no massive hurry to make the last few changes anyway.

So I admit, I didn't do it right away. If something is on a deadline I do it on time. If there's a place I'm supposed to be at a certain time, I'm there. But if there's no time limit - well I'm not quite as reliable because I usually have a dozen things going at once. Most people who know me know this about me. You just have to remind me like three times and I'll eventually get around to it. Just nudge me. Say, "Hey, Emily, did you do the thing? Do the thing."

And I'll go "OH! I forgot to do the thing. I'm sorry. I'll do the thing."

But when I didn't read WP's short right away he sent me an email asking me why I wasn't his friend anymore. He'd always thought I was such a good person, but now he was disappointed in how I'd put everything else before this script.

I ignored the passive aggression and told him I'm sorry I'm really busy, I'll get around to it when I can.

Then I got so busy I could barely breathe and I forgot completely about my promise to read his script. I read a draft a few months ago, so I honestly forgot he'd sent me a new one. I could have read it right away when I was distracted, but I wanted to wait until I had time to dedicate to paying careful attention to it, and by that time I'd forgotten all about it. That was my fault and I'm sorry for it. But it's not the end of the world.

So yesterday he sent me this:

I am a little surprised you haven't read my final draft of Seed after taking your notes after all of this time. Kind of upsetting considering every time you sent me something to read, I read right away and gave you extensive feedback and read all of your drafts asap. I noticed on your blog you took off Bamboo Killers as one of your projects. Should I assume you lost interest in BK...? I've had some writers read my final Seed of Power and really loved it. These people are very harsh so I am happy with the work I put into it. You have told me the last few times I ask that you don't have time, but that is not true because you work on your blog everyday, and you work on you Zombies script. And it takes about 10 minutes to read. It's pretty much a slap in my face for the help I immediately and have always given you.

So I told him if he emailed me again without the passive aggression I'd get right to it. But as long as he continued to make it our friendship every single time I did something he didn't like I wasn't really up for responding to that kind of manipulation. If he'd said, "Hey Emily why haven't you read 'Seed of Power' yet?" I'd have apologized and done it immediately.

Instead he responded in an email so scathing and nasty it's obvious he was trying to think of the most painful thing he could say to me. It might have worked when he first met me, but I'm no longer the confused, insecure girl I was then. WP then told me never to contact him ever again.

So I will not be dealing with him anymore. And I'm glad.


  1. Fuckin' A! Congratulations!

  2. Anonymous8:12 PM

    Personal growth rocks. Haha

    I'm just surprised that you've chosen to tell other people about it. Usually people try to hide their weak past moments from other people.

    But you forgot to kick him in the nuts. Not as happy of an ending that it could've been.

  3. casting aspersions from afar

    From the story, I don't know that the kick would have found a landing spot.

  4. You're better off. Even if it turns out that Steven Spielberg is his cousin you're better off.

  5. r.a. porter--

    (rimshot) nice one


    I'm always suspicious of people who make it a point of letting you know how great they are. Congrats on being the more mature person-- even if you didn't go to film school.

    (full disclosure: I went to film school)

  6. Gack! That sounds like hell. Good for you for kicking him to the curb. Jackass.

    Always good to stay away from people who don't actually seem to like you the way you are. And who don't actually seem to enjoy your company but insist on being there anyway. That is messed up.

    Wish I'd never found myself in that situation, but of course I have. CUT THEM OUT AND DON'T GO BACK. That's the only answer. You did the right thing.

  7. Actually, Maggie, I was thinking about you when I told him to stop being passive aggressive. I remembered that time you posted about refusing to keep people around you who were not nice. You inspired me, lady.

  8. Man, Writing Partner sounds like a huge bitch. It's one thing to be harshly critical and expect some criticism in return. But to make everything a personal affront? No, thanks. Criticism can't be about the person--it has to be about the work, and nothing but the work.

    Here's to making good work, even when assholes bitch about it!

  9. Anonymous10:08 PM

    I are strong man. You are weak lady.
    I have paper that says I know camera.
    You have paper that says you teach.
    I are better! Durpdee Durr

    I'm cruel. :)
    That's my kick-in-the-nuts for mister posh ex-writing parter.

  10. The guy's an A-hole. Don't feel bad...

    You know the saying; if it doesn't kill you it only makes you stronger.

    And to be honest, from simply reading your blog, I never liked your writing partner. It always seemed to me like you were way more committed than he was.

    It always seemed you wanted to learn. To get better. And were held back by the anchor that was your partner.

    I went through some confidence issues in my early scripts. I felt like I needed someone else, because how could I alone write something that was good? I didn't even know what I was doing. Once you figure your own method/technique/thought process, I think its much easier to write what you want to write solo.

    I really can't write with a writing partner. And it took me several bad pairings to realize this (and one was an incredibly talented writer -- our approaches were just to dissimilar.)

  11. Oh I call him "Writing Partner" but really we only wrote together on two projects. I wrote a bunch of scripts by myself before I met him. We just started writing together because while he was staying with me we developed an idea together.

    But yeah, I don't think I'll write with a partner again.

  12. YAY!!!

    Hate mean people! Hate them! Hate!

    Inarticulate, because sleepy, but oh man I'm so touched that any rant of mine helped you out. YAY!!!

    Manipulative is the worst, trying to make you think it's YOUR fault. They suck. He sucks. That evil friend of mine sucked, no matter how nice she seemed to everyone else.

    Hurray for escape from badness!

  13. Anonymous11:51 PM

    I hate it when God forgets to strangle to death these types of people with their umbilical cords.

  14. That seems a bit extreme.

  15. Anonymous12:02 AM

    Yet strangely appropriate for a future Zombie script...

    I can read your mind, Blake.

  16. Actually, writing partners are great, but only if you are both working on two completely different projects. It allows you each to sound off against the other without having your stuff end up in their work or vice-versa.

    Just remember that the best revenge is being more successful than him.

  17. Anonymous4:58 AM

    He's just pissed because he sucks in your film...period


  18. Anonymous8:45 AM

    Some people need boundaries set early on and this guy sounds like the type. I'm like that with jealousy. If my gf let me get away with being a douche every time a guy hit on her or every time I got jealous, things wouldn't be working out so well. But I know I can't get away with shit like that and things are great because of it.

    Congrats on getting rid of this passive aggressive douchebag.


  19. He sounds like a real asshole control freak. You're better off.

  20. Anonymous12:27 PM

    He was more than a writing partner, it seems. Seems like classic narcissistic personality disorder though. Those people are dangerous because they're charming and seem nice as long as they're getting their way. They pretend to have your interests in mind but really it's all about them. Manipulative, controlling, selfish fucks. Sorry you had to go through this though.

  21. I've been lurkin' for a while now but wanted to chime in and say way to go - and way to be level headed about the whole nasty business. That will serve you well.

  22. Abusive relationship over - a good thing.

    You know, if you forget to pay a bill or completely screw up your life in some way, isn't a friend supposed to comfort you? Help you?

    Sure, there are probably times when a friend spanks you for your own good - but if all they do is spank you? Exit stage left!

    - Bill

  23. I don't know why being on set brings out the worst in some people. It's like a mini version of real life, I suppose. You're lucky to have seen how abusive he is in that setting and not to have had him any closer. Good for you for not playing into his manipulations.

  24. Anonymous9:09 PM

    He sounds like a tremendous jerk. Congrats on shedding useless baggage.

  25. Don't let just one bad experience put your off having a writing partner in the future. If nothing else, you know now what to look for, and what to avoid, in a writing partner you want to work with!

  26. Well, I'm obviously a bit late to the party here, arriving an entire DAY LATE to your blog (that explains why I had no idea what you were talking about last night -- I thought you meant I missed a post about you and WP from weeks ago!).

    But still, I completely support you in this. I remember that New Years when you were afraid to tell him you got drunk the night before. Remember that? I tried to encourage you to relax and forget about him. It was one night, and New Years at that!

    Passive-aggressive indeed.

  27. That was intimate and wonderful...not for you but for us. That was a lot of fun. Again, for us. Not you. WP has issues. Like everyone. Change the background and some props. Keep the dialogue, and you have captured the common, contentious conversation taking place between emotionally handicapped people that care for one another.

  28. Anonymous11:40 AM

    My boyfriend shared your post on his Google Reader (he's a scriptwriter and a blogger, too) for me to read. He said he wanted me to see my own behavior in a different kind of relationship. It's awful that he compared me to your writing partner. It almost made me cry.

    Good riddance, I guess.

    - Jane Nebbish

  29. Goodness. I'm sorry he did that. I guess you guys have some talking to do. I hope it works out on eway or the other.


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