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Maybe I Should Quit

Here’s how I tell if someone is smarter than me– when they tell me something, I think to myself, “That makes perfect sense, and I never would have thought of it.”

Case in point:

I suspect a lot of people aren’t sure what’s the top idea in their mind at any given time. I’m often mistaken about it. I tend to think it’s the idea I’d want to be the top one, rather than the one that is. But it’s easy to figure this out: just take a shower. What topic do your thoughts keep returning to? If it’s not what you want to be thinking about, you may want to change something.

That’s Paul Graham, in his recent essay, “The Top Idea in Your Mind.”

Another part of his essay stuck out to me:

I’ve found there are two types of thoughts especially worth avoiding… thoughts about money. Getting money is almost by definition an attention sink. The other is disputes. These too are engaging in the wrong way: they have the same velcro-like shape as genuinely interesting ideas, but without the substance. So avoid disputes if you want to get real work done.

Interesting, but what really caught my eye is the footnote to that paragraph–

Corollary: Avoid becoming an administrator, or your job will consist of dealing with money and disputes.

Then it hit me. This is what I do every day.

I mean, I don’t deal with budgets, it’s true.  But I’m always aware of the kind of money I’m spending.  As a general rule, when the boss asks for a price on something, you need to find three or four options at different rates.

Now, it is not a PA’s job to handle disputes. When someone starts arguing with you about some directive handed down from on high, it’s perfectly reasonable to pass the buck on to your boss. It’s one of the few advantages to being on the bottom.

But there are other, unofficial disputes that one engages in every day.  And, me being me, I always have this silly idea that I’m right, and others need to know it.

What do you want me to do?  LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong!
As usual, XKCD has a comic that perfectly encapsulates my feelings.

I spend many a shower grousing over perceived slights, seething about the jerks I work with, and making a list of things I’ll change when I’m in charge.

This is not the best way to be spending my mental energy. I should be thinking about one of the scripts I’m writing, or the short I’m filming, or the blog I’m writing.

Now, part of the problem is my own attitude, and that’s something I’ll have to deal with.  But part of the problem is that I deal with stupid shit eight to twelve hours a day.  Of course I think about the job when I’m in the shower.  Hell, sometimes I dream about filing paperwork.

This is why I don’t want to be an AD or coordinator.  Administration, in the sense that Graham is writing, will consume my life, and I’ll lose any ability to be creative.

After reading this essay, it makes me wonder if I should quit altogether, and focus on writing full time.  Sure, everyone has to deal with stupid bullshit in their life, but production assistants get it worse than most.

I always saw the job as a stepping stone to better things.  Something to be tolerated until I got promoted.  “The Top Idea in Your Mind” has got me thinking that maybe this job is actually counter-productive.  I’m wasting my brain on a job that a monkey could do.

Maybe I should let them find another monkey.

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3 Responses

  1. I love this blog. I imagine “quitting scenes” every day for my PA job. I always go back for more punishment. I love knowing other people are hurting in the same way I hurt each day. Is that a weird kind of masochism? I’m not sure

  2. You are at that point where the “shine” of being a PA wore off years ago (usually about 3 hours into your first PA job lol).

    How to make that transition, is the big question.

    For me, I was a camera dept junkie/groupie. I ate, slept and shat cameras and lighting. So just by being on set enough, I got the opportunity to load mags. My transition started then. I was poor for a long time when I made the full jump to camera hyperspace, but after a while I got steady work.

    That leap of faith is really tough.

    Since you are a writer, I don’t have a clue how you make the jump.

    Good luck! Maybe something will click with that film you worked on.

    You could always go back to school (don’t throw things at me! lol)

  3. If you do quit (and if your wife lets you), can I apply for your job? If I gave you a Starbucks gift card or bought you some ink for your printer, would you even recommend me for your job? It never hurts to ask, right?

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