In order to get a job on Community, I needed to prove that my writing hadn't always been shit. That at some point, before I started imitating TV shows that I didn't even like, before I started picking jokes and plots out of the Sears catalogue of jokes and plots, before I started bending characters to serve dialogue, rather than the other way around, there was something coming out of me that was unique and honest and joyous and good.

I sent in a couple writing samples from before I started sucking. From back when I was just writing for an audience of one. And somehow I got in.

I got in!

"I'm told you can cure my Shit Writing Syndrome," I said when I first met Dan Harmon. He smirked. "You were told wrong." My heart sank. "Well then what do you do here?"

He poured himself a drink. "I drink and complain and curse executives and complain about actors and I do this little dance like I'm three years old. Wanna see it?"

"Hell yes I want to see it," I said.

He did the dance. It was great. Really fun. A really great little dance. Really adorable. An enjoyable dance.

Then he poured me a drink too. "You drink?" he asked. "I'm afraid not," I said. "Is that part of the therapy? Does that make my writing less shit?"

"No, come on, alcohol's a depressant. It ruins your life. It kills you. But it helps with the symptoms."

"The symptoms?"

He pulled out a marker and went to the white board. He drew a circle. "If you—" Then the marker ran out of ink and he threw it across the room. Then he said, "Fuck it" and he sat back down. He opened Twitter on his phone and started typing stuff. About ten minutes went by. Then I think he fell asleep. He closed his eyes at least. Then he opened them, ate a hamburger, poured another drink, and picked up nowhere near where he left off.

"Look I don't know what the fuck I'm doing here. I'll let you in on a little seeky-poo."

"Is that a cute way of saying secret?" I asked. "Because on the surface it seems really lame, but I am eating it up. I am totally buying that. How did you do that? How do you make me adore something stupid like that?"

"I don't know, you're co-dependent, you worship monsters, your mom slept with sailors or something."

I smiled, loving him like a French Horn loves a fist. And then he dropped the bombshell.

"I'm a shit writer."

"You have it too? You have SWS?" I asked, incredulous.

"Everyone has it!" he said. "Everyone's writing is ninety-eight percent shit. Well not everyone's. Flannery O'Connor was around eighty. I'm making that up, I don't even know who that is, I just pulled a name out of my 10th grade ass, fuck off for judging me."

"I didn't judge you."

"Then fuck off for not judging me. Everyone's writing is shit and it's incurable. All you can do is manage it."

And that's when he told me the secret, the answer, the whole Kwanzaa.

"The first step, which you've already taken, is to open your eyes and see the shit on the page. The second step is to drink because it fucking sucks knowing how bad you are. It's depressing. You can skip the drinking step if you want, it's not a requirement. But the third step is also to drink, so you'll have to skip two steps. You do pills? Weed?"

"I do Pop Tarts."

"That shit'll kill you."

"I know, I'm working on it."

"Okay, step four for you is sugar. Step five is delete. Keep the two percent that isn't shit and delete the ninety-eight percent that's shit. Rewrite it. Within your re-write, there will be two more percent that isn't shit. Then just keep tossing the shit and replacing it until the ratio is tolerable."

"How do I know when it's tolerable?"

"I don't know, make up your own answer, you're the fucking hero in this, finish your own story, find your own Nemo, Schindle your own list."

And that began the amazing exhausting process whereby Dan Harmon rewrote my shit, and his shit and everyone rewrote everyone's shit until it was significantly less shit.

Have I slayed the dragon? No. I basically still suck. It's still a daily struggle. And I'll be honest, most days I just settle for shit so I can get home and see my daughter. She's way more important than writing good. For Christ's sake, it's just television, it's not life.