Sabotage and Self-Sabotage
One thing you learn though, if you’re a writer, is that nobody gives a damn. My friend Jake will ask me, “How’s the book going?” and it’s all over his face that he couldn’t give less of a shit. If anything, he’s hoping I’ll fail. When I report any setback, I can see him fighting to keep from grinning.
My uncle Charlie’s the same, even though he loves me like a son. “Still writing those books?” he’ll ask, in the same tone he’d use to say, “Still squeegee-ing windshields at the entrance to the Midtown Tunnel?”
from “The Knowledge” (2016)
Self-sabotage, as we all know, is a real thing. It’s called Resistance.
But there’s such a thing as sabotage by others.
We might think that those closest to us—our parents, our spouse, our best buds and BFFs—would be proud of us for embarking on our artistic journeys and rooting us on to succeed. But more often than not, the opposite is true.
Our friends will slip subtle digs at us. They’ll ridicule or make fun of our work. They’ll minimize it. Refer to it as a “hobby.” Or they’ll warn us “for our own good” not to become too invested emotionally in the creative dream we’re pursuing.
When I first really committed wholeheartedly to writing fiction, a person very close to me remarked (to me and to other friends), “Steve escapes into typing.”
It’s not that these friends and family members are bad people. What’s happening is they are dealing (unconsciously) with their own Resistance. Deep inside, they know that they have an artistic dream—and they know they’re doing nothing to pursue it. When they see you and me sitting down at our desks or heading into the studio day after day, the act becomes a reproach to them. They think, “If Janie can do it, why can’t I?”
So they sabotage us… or try to.
The writer and director David O. Russell has made this a theme of his movies. Have you seen “The Fighter,” starring Mark Wahlberg? Or “Silver Linings Playbook” with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence? Or “Joy,” starring Jennifer Lawrence?
They’re all about families sabotaging the one member who steps out of the comfort of mediocrity and takes action to live out their dream.
Be careful when you venture out of the shadows. Not everyone will turn out to be your friend.