Back in September 2010, I ran a week-long series featuring key excerpts from a memorable series of presentations by David Milch at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills. Then this week, I stumbled upon this: An entire series called The Idea of the Writer by Milch now available on YouTube. In recognition of that wonderful news, I will reprise my posts and embed video from each of Milch’s presentations.
David Milch is a talented writer. Check out these credits:
Television credits (as creator)
- Beverly Hills Buntz (1987-1988) – co-creator, writer, producer of this Hill Street Blues spin-off.
- Capital News (1990) – co-creator, writer, producer.
- NYPD Blue (1993-2005) – co-creator, writer, executive producer.
- Brooklyn South (1997-1998) – co-creator, executive producer.
- Total Security (1997) – co-creator, writer.
- Big Apple (2001) – creator, writer, executive producer.
- Deadwood (2004-2006) – creator, writer, executive producer.
- John from Cincinnati (2007) – co-creator, writer, executive producer.
- Last of the Ninth (2009) – creator, writer, executive producer.
- Luck (2010) – creator, writer, executive producer.
Awards and recognition
- 1993 Emmy Award, Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series (Hill Street Blues)
- 1994 Edgar Award, Best Episode in a Television Series Teleplay (NYPD Blue, “4B or Not 4B”)
- 1995 Emmy Award, Best Drama Series (NYPD Blue)
- 1995 Edgar Award, Best Episode in a Television Series Teleplay (NYPD Blue, “Simone Says”) (shared with Steven Bochco and Walon Green)
- 2006 Austin Film Festival, Outstanding Television Writer Award recipient
Not to mention the 259 episodes of “N.Y.P.D. Blue” he’s credited with writing.
I did this post back in July that featured some great video of Milch sharing his thoughts about writing. At the time, I noted this:
What leaped to mind when I read the news about the new HBO series was a series of presentations Milch gave at the WGA Theater several years ago. They were covered and excerpted in the fine WGA journal “Written By” over the course of several months. I remember reading them, both fascinated and inspired by Milch’s ideas.
I contacted “Written By” and they have kindly offered to create electronic versions of the original hard copies, so I can excerpt them on GITS. Look forward to that sometime soon.
This week each day, I’ll feature some of Milch’s comments from those presentations at the WGA Theater from back in 2001, excerpted from the “Written By” journal. Here is Part 2:
A psychiatrist will tell you—well, a psychiatrist won’t tell you shit. But in psychiatric terms, the psyche is differentiated into the ego sense of self, the id—which is everything that gets us jammed up—and the super ego, which is the idea of form, or structure, or the accommodation in the world for our behavior. And the super ego is the internalization of the parental voice. Now, it’s obviously an oversimplification. But in particular, a writer—for reasons we will get to in another part of this discussion—stands in a particular kind of doubleness, typically, in his or her emotional makeup, toward experience. Stands both within it comfortably, and, for whatever combination of reasons, stands outside it. That’s the cards you’re dealt. That’s what predisposes you to be a writer as well as predisposes you to be a few other things.
Often, that doubleness is caused by a traumatic association with the idea of form. Here’s a for-instance. The Irish are regarded as a great storytelling people and also as a country full of drunks. There’s a reason for both reputations. It’s a tough country—weather’s tough, they had a lot of problems. One way you learn the doubleness that is typical of the writer is that you are both within the [tavern] and you’re standing outside wondering where the next punch is coming from.
The second maxim that I can give you, the thing that I always try to communicate to an aspiring writer, is that no one can teach you anything that you don’t already know, and each of you has, in your heart, the capacity, when encouraged by a benign organizing presence, to identify the deepest truths of the human story.
That last line is great takeaway:
…no one can teach you anything that you don’t already know, and each of you has, in your heart, the capacity, when encouraged by a benign organizing presence, to identify the deepest truths of the human story.
Day 2: David Milch on The Idea of the Writer.
For Part 1, go here.
Tomorrow Part 3 of “The Idea of the Writer” with David Milch.