I’ve neglected my blog, or as I like to refer to it, the online diary of a mentalist, for a few months. During this barren spell I’ve missed venting my spleen about things and stuff. I’ve missed having a proper rant about a subject out-with the limited 140 characters that are available on Twitter. So to make up for lost time I’m going to pour my heart and soul out about my experience of living with the insecurity of creativity. I feel as manic as Tom Cruise’s character Jerry Maguire, when he spews out his memo/mission statement and then wakes up in a blind panic thinking “what have I done?” I also don’t need to rush off to a 24/7 printers shop in the pouring rain, I just hit post and it’s out there in cyberspace to be spammed, hopefully read and who knows maybe even inspire someone to learn from a few of my mistakes. As the print shop guy says to Jerry Maguire “That’s how you become great man, hang your balls out there.”
So here I go, balls out there style – Why am I so insecure about creativity? I’m not insecure in a financial sense or in a panic about future job prospects. I wish it was that simple, but it’s more complicated. It may seem trivial to some, but I’ve been crippled by a self-induced insecurity about my creativity. How could I, a boy from Partick have the nerve to call himself a writer or a filmmaker? An admission such as this leaves you wide open to some derisory mocking about getting a ‘real’ job. But I’ve never really had a real job. I’m 34 years old and I feel like I’ve served my apprenticeship, I’ve gained the qualifications to back up my claim, but yet there’s still that niggling doubt hanging over me, like a pin being held millimetres away from a balloon, it’s ready to burst my grand plans in an implosion of self-sabotage.
Since graduating as a mature student from the University of Glasgow with an MA in English Literature and Politics, I’ve managed to set up my own production company and I’m producing work for a variety of clients, including shooting music and corporate videos. I’ve also been involved in ongoing meetings with a TV station about some of my projects and ideas. Yet there is still that niggling doubt of being accepted, but who am I trying to gain acceptance from and why do I crave their validation? I know I’m certainly not a member of the Glasgow media set, I’m as far removed from that as you can possibly get. I’m a BAFTA Scotland member and I attend regular screenings and talks, but I’m not one of them, I’m an outsider and I probably always will be, but should I let this bother me? After all, I’m working and I’m shooting projects on a regular basis and I’m happy, so why let an inconsequential thing like approval (from people who will never fully accept me as one of their own) get to me.
I’ve tried to convince myself that after studying at University, including studying screenwriting at the University of California, that I’ve proved my worth, but the insecurity is still there. If someone asks me what I do, I feel it’s pretentious to say filmmaker. I’ve actually caught myself saying I work for a media company! I sometimes question if this attitude will hold me back and ponder if I’m actually projecting my insecurity outwards towards industry targets, as it’s easier to lay the blame at their door for not getting a break or recognition? Maybe that break will come, as I feel like I’m chipping away at a metaphorical brick wall, armed with a dream, hunger and desire to succeed. To me it’s like grasping a small rock hammer and chisel to tear down a stone obstruction that’s of a Berlin wall scale. But as long as I keep writing, as long as I keep making stuff and getting it out there, then at least I will be ready to capitalise on any breaches of the industries defences. All I need is to see a little chink of light through the great wall and it could be enough to inspire me to work harder and faster to tear the fucking thing to a pile of rubble.
I ultimately know the insecurity of my creativity lies within and I know I’m going to have to work on being confident enough to call myself a filmmaker and not be embarrassed by it, after all, if I’d studied for 4 years to be in any other profession other than a creative one I highly doubt if I’d be embarrassed to say what I did for a living. So, here’s to being creative, making stuff and getting it out there into the ether, here’s to taking abstract ideas and transforming them into tangible and quantifiable end products that can be viewed, dissected and critiqued. Perhaps having enough of these end products will enable me to finally feel comfortable with the label that I’ve attached to myself – Joseph Andrew Mclean, filmmaker.