I can create. Usually it takes the form of stringing together words to tell a story. All in the vacuum that is suburban America. As I get older and learn about people and things out there, I find myself drawing parallels to the careers of others. Maybe parallels isn’t the proper word. Comparisons; Parallel implies a sense of forward motion that is simply not there. I would occasionally have a vision of me motoring around Hollywood in a VW Beetle convertible, but there was no sweeping plan, no path mapped out for a career.
Now I’ve read the blogs of working writers. They tell amazing stories. One blogger writes about his youth. How, long before the invention of the VCR, he would set up a timer and a tape recorder to tape Johnny Carson’s monologues on the Tonight show. How he created “mix-tapes” before there was such a thing off of TV and radio. He was creative from the get-go and evolved into a writer. This was all stuff I had done!
I’ve read about another Staten Islander who went off to Harvard to basically major in comedy, so he could get a job at Saturday Night Live and work there for a decade. He did some stand-up. He worked on the college humor magazine. I did that.
I’ve listened to podcasts hosted by a guy from Staten Island who just jumped in a car and drove to Hollywood after he graduated college because that’s where you went to do writing. Was I supposed to do that? He wrote scripts and scripts until someone got interested. Check and check.
Yes, yes, I know, we're not supposed to compare ourselves to others. Things happen in their time. That’s the rub. I could do the writing, but I never had the moxie, the gumption, the ambition to upend my life, to make that time. But, it’s writing, I can do that from anywhere and send it out, no? Should I have relocated to LA and waited tables while I wrote? Was staying home, getting a job, raising a family, a decision made from being practical or made out of fear?
As a kid, I made movies with the other neighborhood kids. I took writing courses in college. I did showcases. It was a bit of a compulsion. Yet, I was only compulsed so far. I kept letting something (fear? Anxiety?) prevent me from pushing onward. The creative drive would take me far but I didn’t have that certain something, the nerve frankly, to tear up the track, to tackle the object of my desire. I could write and submit, write and submit forever. But follow-up? Not good at that. If they liked it, they would get back to me, right? Why would I go and ask them for an out-right rejection?
If I step outside my head, I might be envious of the number of things I’ve done. Inside my head, they’re all things that happened “out there” away from my home, while I was in the basement typing.
I hope this event comes to pass. Will it lead to things? Who knows? There’s nothing linear about what I’ve done. It’s a series of random odd-jobs, one never leading to the next. All fits and starts.
The what-ifs loom large sometimes. I could have done things differently. But then I would have had a different life. Is my life that bad? No, it’s not. Could I have better woven my writing career into my life? I have no idea. I think that’s what I’m lamenting.
But I know me. The anxiety of always trying to hustle for the next gig probably would have driven me insane. So, was I acting out of fear or self-preservation? My brain is filled with contradictory excuses and conflicting reasons for the way things are that I’ll never fully sort out. But I do keep at it. I’ve had exciting moments, until it’s hard to get excited about things that may or may not happen. The hope is there in earnest, though. Losing excitement isn’t nearly as bad as losing hope. Technically, I guess, I never have. That would be awful. But, yes, it would be great to feel the excitement again. To feel like the part of a project. To have people fuss over my work. I could stand that.
Well, here’s hopin’.