Is This the Real Thing?

I am almost two months into my year of writing, and I feel like I did back in college. Confused, anxious, and completely unaware of where my future lies.

The whole time I was in film school, I had this sense of unease. It never fit. Never felt like it would work. I envied my friends with more practical or more intellectual majors. I hated going to class and watching movies. It felt like a waste of my father’s money. I was besieged with guilt every minute. How could I be spending so much money on an education that felt so damn worthless?

It never felt right to me. The last four or so years of wannabe screenwriter felt off to me. Don’t get me wrong–I loved the writing part. I still feel lucky as all hell that I got so much time to write. But any hint of idealist in me died a long time ago, and I can’t stand the feel of writing something just because. There should be a purpose, a reason. It should be more than a file on my computer, a sample that will interest no one.

But, still, for eight or so years, I believed I was pursuing screenwriting. From the time I was 17 up until a few months ago. It feels right to exit that chapter of my life, but there is so much of it remaining.

It’s a major shift, isn’t it– to alter the goal I’ve been chasing for my entire adult life? It’s not as if I did a 180–I’m still attempting a writing career–but this is a big fucking deal. I spend so long convincing myself (every two weeks at least) that I should keep screenwriting. That I was finally a good enough writer. That something would happen eventually. It had to. I was doing everything people said–I was writing, I was networking, I was working hard. And I just didn’t understand why success was so elusive. I didn’t have a job in my field. I didn’t have an agent, a manager, whatever.

It didn’t feel possible.

And my pragmatic self (who would never really acknowledge something as silly as feelings) is glad I’ve closed the book on screenwriting. She is proud. I mean, she’s a little miffed it took four years, but she’s still proud. Something that isn’t working isn’t working. And, a lot of the time, it simply isn’t going to work.

I’m confident about my decision, but I still feel like the rug was pulled out from under my feet. My life feels so in flux. In the span of two months I went from believing I’d spend another 2-3 years working as a tutor and attempting  a screenwriting career to embracing this idea that I had one year to make it or break it as a novelist.

And now I am wracked with anxiety. What the hell is going to happen and am I going to make it work? And what the hell am I doing with my life anyway?

When I read over the last year or two of my blog (or my paper diary, or the word doc diaries I’ve kept since high school), I see the same things over and over again. I suppose it makes sense. My questions are pretty normal. It’s not like I can ever definitively answer “what the hell am I doing with my life?” Everytime I ask myself if I should keep writing (and try hard to convince myself not to), I decide to stick with it. It’s not as if the decision is permanent. Hell, the main reason why I decided to go for a year of writing was so that I could stop asking myself this question. It’s the uncertainty that kills you.

I guess I might as well admit my uncertainty. I’m publishing stuff next month, and I’m anxious as all hell. It feels like a year of work is going into this. It’s a lot of pressure. I can’t keep thinking that I’m going to fail, that I am failing, that I’m always going to be failing.

I need to figure out a way to turn off this part of my brain, at least for a little while.

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