What do you do?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more extroverted. I still get tired in big groups, especially of people I don’t know, but I enjoy meeting new people without getting panicked and anxious. There is one thing I hate about meeting new people and catching up with old friends. One question:

What do you do?

Ugh. The four worst, most stressful words in the English language. I’m a screenwriter, but I don’t make any money doing that. Not yet. I’m a tutor, but it’s just a day job and it isn’t even working out that well at the moment. And then comes the next question: have you written anything I might have seen? Well, not yet, but I sold this one script for deferred payment. The producer might be incompetent, so it will probably never see the light of day… UGH. It’s horrible.

I’m going through one of my many phases of doubt and stress. It’s part of the life cycle, I think. I get this nagging feeling that I will never be successful, that I am wasting my time, that I’ll never be able to support myself. People who aren’t writers don’t GET IT. They don’t understand it takes a few years after college just to get your skills up to speed, a few years after that to make connections, work for free/cheap. They don’t understand how fucking hard it is, or maybe they do, and that’s why they make subtle suggestion to GET A REAL JOB.

And I wonder if they are right… should I get a real job?

I worry. I worry that it will take so much longer than I think. I have friends who are 10 years older than me, who are still working day jobs. I know I’m getting better. I think my writing is finally at the point where I could be competitive with working screenwriters. And the project I’ve almost completed is good. When I’m done, it will be great. Commercial, but with a solid message, and cheap enough to shoot on a shoestring budget. But, after all my ordeals with incompetent producer, I can’t stand the thought of handing this script over to someone who will do nothing to do. I can’t stomach the idea of giving away a free option (are those ever a good idea, really?), or settling for deferred compensation. I know things are rarely purchased outright, not anymore, and my odds of nabbing a six figure spec deal are slim to none… but I feel like this project needs to do something for me: get me work, get produced, get my name out there, get me money. I have worked so hard on it for so long. It’s like a part of me… and I know time and moving on to another project will ease the pain of such an intimate connection…

But I am doubtful. I am doubtful that any of this will work out. I have a hard time envisioning my path to successful. I have a hard time seeing where all the pieces fall into place. I know I will have another few years of scraping by (in all likeliness, at least), but I don’t know if it will all “work out” in the end. It won’t stop me, not for a time, but it is stressful.

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4 thoughts on “What do you do?

  1. I feel you. I feel like I could have written pretty much the exact same post. It blows my mind that I’ve been at this game for nearly ten years now. It might just qualify as insane.

  2. I read a lot of blogs about people who have pursued screenwriting. Many are optimistic. But very few have any tangible rewards to justify the fight. Its scary.

    Let’s be real, its statistically unlikely that most aspiring screenwriter will produce even one movie. But those who do succeed tend to be really damn tenacious. And not just with writing. They put their name out there. They connect with others in or affiliated with the industry. And they seek validation and feedback at every turn.

    If its any consolation, its good to know other writers battle with doubt. I feel less alone hearing that. I also admire your resilience when you say you’re not ready to stop. Why stop? Especially if its such a meaningful part of you?

    • Thanks for replying.

      It’s a very scary thing, and it doesn’t help seeing people in other fields find success and nice paydays so quickly.

      I almost convince myself to stop every few months. It’s always when I’m away from writing somehow, on vacation or visiting my family, but I find that I always plan my potential new life around the end goal of having all day to write.

      This blog is not my name (it’s such an obviously fake name) but I’m working on an actionable plan to actually get my name “out there.” But that’s probably my next entry.

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