I made a promise to myself, that when I started writing, learning the in’s and out’s of the film & comic book industries, that I would always remain transparent. No matter how desperate it might make me appear or how embarrassed it might actually make me. I have no desire to sell myself as anything except for what I am. So, here I go with another soul-exposing rant:
I’ve been on a journey this year of losing jobs, losing girls, and just about losing my mind. But sometimes we have to have our house of cards destroyed in order to see just how shitty our craftsmanship is. Thanks to a good therapist & a good bit of reading (highly recommended: A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis) and life-searching, I feel like I’m ready to start building that house again… but this time with a solid foundation.
Let’s start with least personal aspect of my life (although probably most applicable to those reading this) – screenwriting. Over the past 4 years I’ve written 4 full film & TV scripts. (Having said that, I realize just how unproductive I’ve been, and as much as I want to, I won’t make excuses [although I have written numerous treatments and comic projects and journalistic endeavors as well]). For now, I’ll not consider whether these scripts are any good or not. For sake of argument, let’s just go ahead and say they aren’t. Of these 4 scripts, one of them was optioned by a major studio, although we were later fired from the project, and although it may still see the light of day, it will not resemble our script in any way. Another made it to “talks,” but fell through. Another was, admittedly, so bad that we never showed it to anyone. And the last was read by a few agents and managers, but no one was interested. (Also, of note is a comic project that had no less than 3 false starts.)
So, looking back on this now, I would even say this is a pretty successful track record. 4 scripts and 2 of them generated interest. That’s pretty good! I should be proud of my accomplishments and keep moving forward, right?
However, in the thick of things, the disappointment along the way just stacks up. (And really, you’re getting the clean abbreviated version, not the dirty, down in the trenches, war stories.) Add to this financial and personal problems, and life starts to get you down.
I began to think in these big terms like “I’ll never make it” or “my dreams will never amount to anything” or even “I’ll never be happy and die alone.” But the truth is, a lot of people wouldn’t even look at the above record as a disappointment! So why are we so blinded by the moment of things?
For me in particular, the problem lies in two things:
1. I become a slave to the past.
I tend to think it terms of “fate.” That I’m going to fail or succeed because I’m destined to fail or succeed. Yet the more I live my life, the more I have to disagree with this. Everything was so clear at 16. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and (thanks to my faith in God & fate) I knew that it would happen TO me. And now at 30, I FINALLY realize that if I want the life I dreamed of at 16, I have to MAKE it happen (even if I still believe in things like God & fate, which I do).
And if I fail at this goal, it’s not because I’m destined to fail. We fail, because well, shit happens. But we don’t have to be a slave to that. We don’t have to be a failure just because we fail. We have the freedom to get back up and try again. Every single time.
I think this applies to dreams, life, work, LOVE, everything in life. We always have 2nd chances. We always have ta choice at each step in life. For me, this could be that I CHOOSE not to write anymore, but it would be my choice, not destiny giving me a shitty hand.
This idea of choice fills me with crazy freedom. That I can do anything I want with my life, because I’m not limited by fate or circumstances anymore. I refuse to be a slave to my past mistakes, to my circumstances, to people who discourage me, or to fear of rejection.
2. I strive too hard for “happiness.”
In the past, I’ve had this ideal life in my head. This life, to me is happiness. I want to be a writer, I want to marry a particular girl, I want to live a particular life. So, to me, if i don’t have these things, then I can’t be happy. What a limiting view on life!
I think if we strive for happiness, the only thing we’re going to get is more striving. I think true happiness comes from COMMITMENT to who you are where you are.
Life is a journey. If we can’t enjoy the journey, then we’re never going to enjoy the destination.
I’ve always had a problem with this idea, because I felt like enjoying life where I was at was like settling. I hate the word “contentment.” It sounds so bland. I don’t want to live a content life, I want to live an extraordinary life.
But again, if I believe in CHOICE, then whether I live an extraordinary life or not is in MY hands. If I want to be a writer, I have to commit to being a writer. If I fail at it, then it’s MY fault. Not God or fate or destiny. It might take 40 years, but I’ve got to find joy in the journey.
The more I think about it, I realize that all of my past pain comes from searching for “answers” and when I don’t find those answers, I get frustrated and angry. What if there are no answers? What if there is no perfect place to be? How much freedom does that give us if we just give up the search and just choose to simply LIVE?
These thoughts are certainly for my own self. Maybe you can relate, maybe you can’t. Maybe everyone gets this idea already and it’s just taken me 30 years to figure it out. But I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to continue the discussion.