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The Writer’s Sixth Deadly Sin: Greed

By Randal Stevens · June 14, 2010

Centuries ago, some guy who lived alone in the desert made up the Seven Deadly Sins to justify his importance to the Church. Just now, I made up the Seven Deadly Consequences to justify (perhaps futilely) my importance to this blog. The Seven Deadly Consequences are just like the Sins, but are not actions; they are reactions. Specifically, the Consequences are reactions that occur when you should be writing, but you're not. They won't have any effect on your immortal soul, but they come with equivalent amounts of crushing guilt! This sixth entry is focusing on the Consequence of greed.


So you've finally gone and done it – you've given up on screenwriting. Now, that's not to say you've given up on your aspirations – no, the visions of seeing "Written by [insert your name here]" on thousands of silver screens all over the country still dance through your head with sugar plum frequency. But you haven't written a single INT. or CUT TO in over two years and you figure if you haven't written your screenplay about the robot super spy from the future who saves the world from Armageddon triggered by the love-child he fostered with a dinosaur by now, you never will.


So, you try and forget about it by getting a job doing something else – perhaps in event coordination, house painting or artificially inseminating clydesdales – and after a couple of years, you've moved up the ranks and become the highest paid clydesdale inseminator in the company. Your screenplay has become a distant memory, only referenced again when you and your friends are talking about foolish flights of fancy you used to have back in the good old days. "Oh, I had aspirations of being a writer," you say. "How bohemian!" As you drink your martinis and adjust your monocle, you try desperately to ignore the fact that there's a bit of a hollowness inside that has never fully dissipated. "I'll distract myself tomorrow by purchasing two more Mazda Miatas and paying two homeless men $1000 each to joust in them." Congratulations, future you, you've fallen into the clutches of greed.


Like last week, I'm exaggerating in my depiction of the depths to which you'll plunge should you fall into the Consequence of greed, but there's a hint of truth in every joke. Greed, also known as avarice or covetousness, is linked with excess. Specifically, greed is applied to a very excessive desire and pursuit of wealth, status and/or power. Greed can lead to disloyalty, betrayal or treason, especially for personal gain. That's right – you may be head horse inseminator, but you betrayed a co-worker to get to that position and now you won't be happy until you're occupying the CEO chair of Clyde and Dale's Horse Inseminators Inc. All because you never finished your screenplay. You asshole!


Alright, alright, so I've taken some (read: all) creative liberties with this story. Unless your father owns a company that inseminates horses, I doubt you'll end up sticking your hand up equus ass for the rest of your days should you not sell a screenplay. However, there is a very real danger of trying to compensate in other ways – in this story, financially and materially – should you prematurely abandon your one true desire. You know those movies you always see where the greedy old curmudgeon is really just a sad, broken man inside because he made a decision decades ago and chose his wallet over his heart? Well, to a degree, that could be you. You may not become a wealthy despondent, but if you have a passion, a desire for something and you choose to do something else, there's undoubtedly going to be a hole where something should be. In order to fill that hole, you may try and get a good paying job in a field about which you don't necessarily care or buy a bunch of shit you don't need in a veritable attempt to prove that your figurative cock works as well as anyone's. Make no mistake though – if you're not writing, it's not working.


How to Avoid the Consequence of Greed

Just write. I know my advice on avoidance has become less and less unique with each entry, but the truth is, none of these Consequences would even be Consequences if you were writing right now.