It’s been two weeks since I turned on my computer. (It wasn’t some self-denial thing–I was on vacation). Two weeks ignoring Tumblr, Reddit, Scriptshadow, Feministing, Bitch Media… it was glorious. I didn’t realize how jumbled my brain felt, how exhausted I am from being so plugged into the feminist and screenwriting/film industry conversations. There are too many other voices in my brain, and I get too invested in outside issues. All the feminist stuff makes me so angry all the time. All the screenwriting stuff makes me a jealous, anxious wreck. All I can think about is the fact that my career isn’t going anywhere.
I really needed two weeks away from my self-identity as a writer. I cling to the idea of myself as a writer. It’s a security blanket in a cold world. But my notions are far too romantic, and I allow this fantasy to dictate my life and my feelings. Of course I am too introspective and emotional. I’m a writer. Of course I am underemployed. I need time to write. Of course my thoughts are a jumbled mess. I can’t make sense of them unless I string them into sentences. And I allow myself to believe this is some beautiful thing, rather than an irritating mental quirk. I am a writer and one day the blood I pour onto the page will make people think and feel. And it will be so beautiful, because I am a writer and I am writing REAL ART. It’s ridiculous.
I am a writer so I write things. Being a writer doesn’t mean anything else. It means I write things. It doesn’t mean I can or can’t function in certain ways. It doesn’t excuse my artistic temperament or my mangled brain. It means I write. The end.
Don’t get me wrong– I am not letting go of this identity. But I am starting to get the sense that my attachment to writing is unhealthy. After three years in the cold, hard real world, I am less concerned with being a great artist, and more concerned with making some damn money. And, honestly, I can’t see the path to making money with screenwriting. I know how it works, in theory–agents sending you to meetings, open writing assignments, one in a million spec sales. I know it’s possible. I know, after many years of sucking, I am finally a good writer. But I can’t envision the steps between where I am now and making a living from screenwriting. And it kills me, because I am way, way too attached to my last project. I spent a year and half working on it. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve worked on other projects. I’ve done other things. I’ve been gainfully underemployed. But, God, I spent so much fucking time on it, and I know it’s great. But now I look at it and I don’t know what to do. Yeah, I can enter some contests, and I will. I can put it on the Blacklist, and I will probably do that too. I can blind query (though I won’t). But after that… what can I really do? I’ve already sent it to anyone who expressed interest. And I am sure that I am impatient, but it pains me to know I worked so hard on this thing that will probably never see the light of day, probably never get any appreciation, probably never get me an agent or a paying job.
I won’t make any excuses, because I know my attachment to this project is unhealthy. But I love it so damn much, and I’ve spent so much time on it I might be sick if I have to rewrite it again. I know the right step is to finish up my final polish and lock it in a PDF and not touch it until someone pays me to touch it (doesn’t that sound scandalous?), and I will do that… I think.
But it hurts to know I spent a few hundred hours (or, God forbid, thousand) on something that will probably never be more than a file on my computer.
And, lately, I am angry at screenwriting. My current project is driving me mad. My career isn’t starting. The film industry at large seems to have little interest in telling stories about women. But, mostly, I don’t understand how I am supposed to move from where I am to where I want to be.
And, sure, I am only 24, and most writers don’t have careers until they are well into their 20s or even 30s, but I am tired of being my only friend without a career trajectory. And, I know, I know, I need to get a job and stop relying on writing as my only chance of ever being successful, but the thought of full time employment in a stuffy career path makes me sick. And working 50 or 60 hours a week like some of my friends… I couldn’t do it. Whenever I think of jobs, I always strategize around maximizing my time to write.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love screenwriting. I could never stop. Not without some serious rehab. But I might be pull back a little to focus on writing and publishing novels, because I can actually envision the steps between where I am now and making a living. I am not sure how much energy and time I will pull away from screenwriting, but I will be cutting my time engaging in bro-heavy, newb-filled, action/thriller worshipping communities like Reddit and Scriptshadow to a minimum. I need to get off the computer and actually do things besides writing, reading, browsing the internet, and watching shit.