Why We Write

January 31, 2008

Why We Write – Number 34: Sera Gamble

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Craig @ 7:44 am
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Number 34

Today’s piece is written by Sera Gamble, Writer-Producer of “Supernatural” and Co-Creator of the blog www.veryhotjews.com.

 

When I was in the seventh grade, I wrote a poem about Mozart.  It was for a class assignment.  Subject matter was dealer’s choice – most of my classmates wrote rhyming couplets about true love – and I’d just discovered classical music.  Also, I was already pretentious.  This poem of mine so impressed the teacher that she asked me to read it aloud for the class.  Maybe because everyone had applied themselves to the assignment with unexpected sincerity, I didn’t get slapped as hard as you might imagine with nerd backlash.  Most of the class even clapped.  I thought, Hey, I should become, like, a professional writer!  People will think I’m awesome and shower me with applause!

After class, this chick approached me at my locker.  “So, your poem,” she said.  “You’re good with words.”

“Thanks,” I said, with casual humility.

“Yeah, totally,” she continued. “But, you know, it didn’t move me.”

With that, she walked away (possibly in the general direction of a career as a studio exec).  I stood there for a long time, locker door in my clammy hand, feeling the blood prickle my neck.  I was crushed.  She was, I knew, spot-on.  Who gives a shit how well-constructed a piece of writing is, if it doesn’t make people feel anything?

Luckily, soon after this my family moved to Southern California.  I went kicking and screaming – I was leaving my hometown, all my friends, my first love who’d only just gotten the balls to kiss me.  In Redlands, I knew no one.  The kids were more worldly than back in Cincy; wore way less clothing; spoke in a sarcastic monotone I couldn’t properly reproduce; had no room in their entrenched clique structure for overeager newbies. 

Three important factors came together the week I moved to Redlands:

  1. I had no one to talk to.
  2. Angst suffused every cell of my body.
  3. Someone had given me a diary as a going-away present.

The page became my dearest confidante, my only friend.  I couldn’t afford to write well-constructed stuff; I was on fire with rage and loneliness.  (Future Studio Exec Chick woulda been thrilled.)  Soon enough, I discovered the local coffee shop.  With it came open mic night, heartbreaking love triangles and a constant stream of potent espresso drinks; amped on all three, I splayed on my bedroom floor at three in the morning, scrawling emotion-drenched blank verse until the pen callous on my middle finger developed a blood blister.

Things didn’t rock so hard for me in high school.  I was That Girl: I wore black; I fought daily, hourly with my parents; I dated crazy boys; I flirted with all the usual bad ideas.  I scared my teachers, my family, myself.  I could easily have ended up a cautionary tale.  Instead, I escaped adolescence relatively unscathed.  Because whatever epic tragedy was unfolding in my hormone-addled mind that day, I wrote about it.  And wrote.  And wrote.  I wrote until I’d accidentally exhausted myself and couldn’t rally the energy to enact any of my more ambitiously self-destructive plans.  I reread some of the stuff I wrote when I was sixteen before I wrote this essay.  Full disclosure: it is by and large embarrassingly histrionic, overwrought ass on a stick.  If I read it to you over a moist open mic, you would laugh, perhaps until you peed yourself.  Also, no fucking way am I showing it to you.  But I will never throw it away.  On the surface, it looks like hundreds of pages of whiny dramatics.  Underneath, though, it’s the road map of a deeply sad, anxious girl discovering that writing what she feels is going to save her.

So, I never stopped writing.  Because obviously that would be a stupid move.  Also, I get paid for it now.  I guess it’s not so strange that I eventually got good enough to warrant a paycheck, considering the obscene amount of practice I’ve put in over the last fifteen years.  But it also feels a little like icing, getting paid to do the one thing I’d do regardless.  I was among the most radioactively miserable kids in a high school of thousands, and now I’m one of the happiest writers I know.  The process of writing doesn’t cause me the agony it does many writers I’ve talked to – you know, the ones who wax rhapsodic about the torture of the blank page.  I sit down to a blank page and see my oldest friend.  Some days I write something decent.  Some days I suck.  Whatever.  It’s not like I won’t be back tomorrow.

 

WHY WE WRITE is a series of essays by prominent – and not so prominent – TV and Film writers.  Conceived by Charlie Craig and Thania St. John, the campaign hopes to inspire and inform all writers.  If you’d like to comment, or tell us why you write, visit the Why We Write WordPress site or contact us at whywewrite@gmail.com.

26 Comments »

  1. wow…i’ve just been so moved that i’m posting my first comment EVER on a blog (so i’m guilty of posting comments on myspace). minus the moving to different cities, i swear we led parallel lives during our crisis teens. even my english teacher asked me to read my poem aloud in class, and having someone tell me i’m good with words, but, get this, they didn’t understand what i was talking about. i’m not paid to be a writer, at least not yet…maybe one day i’ll have the same happy ending. =)
    and, uh, ya, no fucking way anyone is reading my diaries either!

    Comment by Joelle — January 31, 2008 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

  2. […] even though Sera Gamble didn’t write tonight’s episode, she did write an essay for the Why We Write series and it’s pretty awesome. You should go read it. It’ll help […]

    Pingback by Don’t Forget: New Supernatural Tonight! | ~ ramblings of a TV whore ~ — January 31, 2008 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  3. Great essay!

    Do you still have the Mozart poem?

    Comment by Mark — January 31, 2008 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  4. You’re still good with words and you definitely moved me. I can’t wait until the strike is over and you can get back to getting that paycheck for writing.

    Comment by Rae — January 31, 2008 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

  5. Paid? You get PAID(!) to write? Oh, I have got to get me a job like that.

    Comment by Jake Hollywood — January 31, 2008 @ 3:13 pm | Reply

  6. Wow. Reading that threw me back into my own teens and it’s been ten years since I’ve even so much as *thought* about them. That was both heartbreaking and inspiring. Here’s hoping that the strike is resolved in a savory manner and you can get back to being paid to do something you love very soon, Sera, because if you’ve been fortunate enough to be given that gift, it really makes me sad to see it ripped from you over some stubborn big-wigs with too-fat wallets.

    Comment by Jen — January 31, 2008 @ 4:55 pm | Reply

  7. What great timing! Literally just last week I picked up an old journal and reread it in it’s entirety. Aside from being disgusted over my melodrama, it was fun to be reminded of experiences I’d completely forgotten about.

    Can’t wait till the strike ends so all the writers can go back to work and we get more Supernatural!

    Comment by Katrina — February 1, 2008 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  8. Since I was a teen at the beginning of the blog years, I had the benefit of getting a lot of my words online and privacy-locked. Still, it’s probably just like the woe and angst that everyone else wrote, so only the medium changed.

    Thanks for the great read, Sera. I love Supernatural!

    Comment by gorgeousnerd — February 1, 2008 @ 1:18 pm | Reply

  9. That’s so encouraging to me.

    I’m a freshman in college right now, taking two writing courses and writing for the school paper after having just discovered that there’s nothing I ever want to do with myself other than write. I have enough practice with emo poetry and angsty teenage ramblings to get me there, too.

    Being a screenwriter for a television drama is my ambition. It sounds like an extremely competitive business. I can only hope to achieve the same success you did.

    Thanks for inspiring me!

    Comment by Cassie — February 1, 2008 @ 2:26 pm | Reply

  10. WOW, the way you described everything was amazing. I just really loved this.

    In High School, i started to write poetry. I still can’t remember the reason why i started but i did and i still find myself surprised at the things i’ve written. I think it’s not mine. There’s just another part of me that wants to come out when i write.

    I love that. That i have this voice inside me that is so eloquent and just not like me and that every experience i have right now is just going to add to my writing and to my life.

    Sorry if i rambled, i guess you just brought it out in me *giggles*

    Thanks for sharing this with us.😀

    Comment by Elisabeth — February 1, 2008 @ 5:54 pm | Reply

  11. As a high school student who completely HATES high school, i’m so glad to have read your essay ms. gamble. I’m a huge fan of supernatural and as i’ve become more and more obsessed with the show i’ve learned more and more about its production and can honestly say that i’ve been considering a career in writing because of the amazing work that you guys do.

    i always look to the idea that:
    They say that the people who peak in high school usually fizz out in the later part of their lives. And that the others, who hated high school, end up doing better.

    i’ve always hoped that THEY were right, and you are the perfect example of this.
    Thank you for this essay, it shows me that things can truly get better in high school.

    and continued support for supernatural!
    (i absolutely love the episode crossroad blues.)

    Comment by Marirose — February 1, 2008 @ 8:11 pm | Reply

  12. You made me feel. Thank you so much for writing this, Sera.

    Comment by Katie — February 1, 2008 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

  13. ‘struth. in all its angsty, porny holiness.

    Comment by susannah eanes — February 3, 2008 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  14. From one “radioactively miserable” high school kid to another, I applaud you for your dedication to one of the most fulfilling crafts in the world. I wouldn’t have survived adolescence without my writing journal. It’s still my best friend, even today.

    You moved me by reading this. Everything I’ve seen you write moves me.

    Comment by Katie — February 5, 2008 @ 8:22 pm | Reply

  15. Saw the link to this essay posted on one of my lists. Definitely glad I checked it out. Have tons of handwritten pages myself from those years. Writing and reading were sanity in easily portable packages.😛

    Comment by Gloria Oliver — February 9, 2008 @ 5:49 pm | Reply

  16. Some of us remember what you wrote in High School and it did move us. Some of us have never forgotten. Take that as good or bad, as you see fit.

    Comment by RHS — February 11, 2008 @ 12:08 am | Reply

  17. I’ve read this essay and many of the others on this blog a few times now and it actually never occurred to me until now that I can actually leave a comment. That’s kind of scary…even if Sera (or anyone for that matter) doesn’t read it.

    I love, love, love, love Supernatural. It holds a special place in my heart for many reasons but one of the main ones is because it was the first show that inspired me to want to write for television. I finished high school last year and it was a tricky year because I felt like I should be ‘growing up’ and wanting to do something more ‘practical’ than acting and writing. But as the months passed, I didn’t develop a sudden passion for business or law. For ages I thought if I loved writing, then I must want to be a journalist, even if that thought made me unhappy. But one night I had this fantastic epiphany. I was watching Supernatural..and it clicked…writing for a show as awesome as this…that’s what I want to do.

    Yet somewhere along the line, instead of listing the university course that allowed you to major in writing for film and television as my first preference, I listed a degree at a more prestigious university. I was accepted but deferred to study acting for a year. A lot of my friends and family said this was for the best: what was a ‘creative writing’ course *said with wrinkled nose* compared to a degree from one of the best unis in the world? So I tried to convince myself I wanted to go to this beautiful sandstone campus. But whenever I read about it or visited it with friends about to attend it, I could never picture myself going there. Which led to epiphany number 2 and I’ve realised/decided it’s my life and I’m going to apply for the other university next year over my original offer.

    Thank you to Sera and the other writers at Supernatural- I’m such a fan- as well as those on this blog for inspiring me (and all other wannabes) to pursue our dreams. You guys rock!

    Comment by Karmabelle — March 3, 2008 @ 7:50 pm | Reply

  18. That was great. I kinda feel the same way, but don’t get paid for writing.🙂 I do love to write. It’s like therapy and so much cheaper than the real deal.🙂 That said, you are an outstanding writer and deserve every cent you get.😀 I just love your take on Supernatural and the boys. It doesn’t get much better than this. Kudos.

    Comment by P.C.Rasmussen — May 4, 2008 @ 2:55 am | Reply

  19. Thanks for writing this blog. I’ve just started college, and this blog really got to me because i love writing too. I’ve kept diaries since i was little, and its great to get all your feelings out. Unfortunately though, I’ve also been pretty clueless my entire life and it was only a few months ago that it occurred to me that something where you write would be my perfect job. Plus in my spare time I’m always writing scripts for shows like “Supernatural” (which is awesome by the way so well done) but instead I’m doing something completely different at college, which isn’t as interesting. so i was thinking about carrying on with writing anyway, and sending scripts to networks etc. but unfortunately I darent send them. Ive never showed anyone anything I’ve wrote, so thats not gonna happen. anyway, great blog and can’t wait for season 4 of Supernatural!

    Comment by Kara — September 10, 2008 @ 2:22 am | Reply

  20. oh shit I love supernaturel so much its my life im such a fan I believe in your work I want to become a writer its also my life by watching Supernaturel I give the story that I m writing some plans

    Comment by ellen — November 11, 2008 @ 7:01 am | Reply

  21. Hey dudes wanna no howz I feel about supernaturel I love it so mch my favourite person is Dean hes fuuny and sometimes weird but he reminds me of me when I am talking I love him hes so fine I love him

    Comment by nicole — November 11, 2008 @ 7:04 am | Reply

  22. you remember me my teen age – i also wrote poems and songs,but only for my pleasure…

    Thank you so much for writing this – great stuff!

    Comment by or - טכנאי מחשבים — May 11, 2009 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  23. I am really enjoying the series. thx a lot!

    Comment by רופא שיניים — September 21, 2009 @ 1:48 am | Reply

  24. […] with Exploding Typewriters at Bay I recently came across this awesome Why We Write blog post by Sera Gamble. For most of you, you have no idea who she is. She’s one of the […]

    Pingback by A Blog a Day Keeps the Homicidal Monkeys with Exploding Typewriters at Bay « Empty Pocket Book — June 10, 2010 @ 9:36 am | Reply

  25. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog.

    Comment by heriz rugs — August 26, 2010 @ 1:37 am | Reply

  26. Please, give to the supernatural life again!, enough of crap!

    Comment by erik — March 5, 2011 @ 9:13 am | Reply


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