As this is a record of sorts, of my creative progress, it bears mentioning that I have been flailing lately in my creative life, and well, just my life. I haven’t posted much about it, not because it’s an emotional topic (though it is) so much as it is one that is difficult to capture in writing, because, by its nature, flailing goes off in many directions, and while that might be good for a twenty-page essay, or a semi-autobiographical novel, a blog post, if it is not to be tedious, best accommodates one direction, two if you’re crafty. If I were up to writing a twenty-page essay or a novel…well then I would probably be flailing less than I am.
Instead of trying to capture everything, I will just mention one aspect of the flailing, and that will probably give some idea of how even one thing can split into multiple directions.
For much of April and May I really tormented myself about whether to take this summer TV Writing Class that was offered. I had seen the instructor on a panel and been really impressed by her and so was super excited when the class announced, and even when I signed up for it.
But as last semester started to come to an end and the class loomed closer, something changed. I started to ask “what is this all for?” What sparked this feeling? Maybe it was attending an informational session for one of the TV Fellowships and having it dawn on me that it just never going to happen. I’m not the droid they are looking for. A diversity program is never going to think that my voice is diverse. That’s nobody’s fault, but nothing can change that. I’m getting too old to climb the ladder from the bottom, to be a PA, then a writer’s PA, then a writer’s assistant, then a writer. I’m sure someone could cite a case where a woman my age made that work and became one of the 14% of TV staff writers out there who are female, but it’s not the low-hanging fruit. Even rung one is not the easiest gig to get. (I was offered it once, right when I graduated, but it didn’t have any health insurance, and my job had to support myself and Paul, since he was shooting his movie, so, I didn’t take it, and, I guess, since I had one of my cancer “episodes” the next year, I made the right decision, since with no health insurance we would have been completely screwed. But still I have to wonder if it was a mistake. I get that I’m rambling here, but rambling is kind of like flailing, so we’ll just go with it.) and second, even all the full writers I know, who have been on several TV series, seem to live with constant uncertainty and workplace dysfunction.
I also am getting really scared that if I keep taking different classes, I won’t ever finish the screenplay and the book that I already have drafted, I’ll keep putting them to the side, and I’ll die–or just get old with a drawer full of half-finished dreams that never get to come out into the light. And one of those half-finished things would be the new TV script, because you never come out of a class with a polished draft of anything.
So after two months of deliberating in this way I dropped the class before it started. I’m still not sure it was the right decision.
And now I’m really worried that even if I don’t take a class I won’t ever finish the screenplay and the book that I already have drafted, because, I really don’t fucking feel like writing right now . A bad poem now and then, a blog post, sure. But something that will take concerted and continuous effort an extended period of time. Sitting down at my desk and opening the document feels like a trip to the gallows. All I feels is this “don’t want to,” and I don’t know when that will change.
And this brings up a bigger question…if i don’t even like to write anymore–why in the hell am I existing in this financial situation? Why are we selling our car for a thousand bucks because we can’t afford to spend two thousand to fix it? Why do I only buy clothes about twice a year, and then at the Ross or Goodwill? Why do I live in a house that makes me homicidal because everyone who lives here likes to act artistic and not clean anything but no one has money to pay a maid? And why do I seem poised to live like this for the rest of my life? It’s one thing to have a dead-end job because I’m driven write some opus, and another just to have a dead-end job for no reason at all, because the act of opening a Final Draft document feels like walking to the gallows. My job is not bad. It’s benign, but it’s the definition of a dead end. The maximum raise I will ever get will be something like 38 cents a year. My salary will never pay my school loans. Not even close. And until Paul gets a job, it can’t really pay our current expenses either.
So then I’ve starting to look at “real” jobs. With two and half Masters degrees, and quite a bit of work experience, it seems like I could have something to offer in a more lucrative field. But that begs the question, why do I need to live in one of the most expensive, traffic ridden cities in the world to do a job that has nothing to do with the industry that the city is known for?
And then again, so much is so close. It’s possibly the exact time not to be looking at other jobs, but the time to bear down. It might be tragic to pack up and go now.
I decide I should wait, just push myself through this one script that I’ve promised to someone. But of course, because of the not-wanting-to-write, it would be helpful to have a push. I ask about taking an independent study with an instructor I like in the my program. The department doesn’t do independent studies with adjuncts. I reach out to an old-mentor. His summer is full. My writer’s group is on hiatus…
Flailing is what you do when you’re in deep water and you feel like you’re going under. You just grasp and any random-ass object that passes. “Hey, piece of disintegrating driftwood, can you support me? Please save me.”
Rotten driftwood can’t save you. And there’s no one else here. You have to start swimming. But swimming only helps if you can figure out what direction to swim.
Therapy, you say? Yeah, I’m going for the first time this week. Will let you know how that goes.