The Theory of Chaos

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Progression towards senility update

So, as some of you may know, I turn 29 today. The white flag signals surrender on the battlefield, the last lap in a race. My 20’s are entering their final lap, and they are surrendering. They’ve certainly been action-packed.

I was 20 when I wrote my first substantial script, a 45-minute play called
Between 3 and 4. In the near decade since then, between scripts and script coverages and development notes and blog posts I’ve set down well over 1,000,000 words that needed to be good enough for someone to read. Not all of them have been, some have been better than just good enough. Some have earned me money – some may yet earn me money.

Last night I was in the sweat of anxiety, I didn’t fall into real sleep until around 5 am. Because I’m in a business where there is almost no middle class, no sustainable average. Either you’ve made it, and you have money in the bank and can afford the LA real estate, or you’re just part of the paycheck-to-paycheck horde – taking the odd jobs and watching your peers in other fields make that steady climb up the tax brackets. When I was 22 I would have been glad to have my current monthly take-home, if I still have it at 32 it ought to be pretty damned embarrassing.

The decisions I’ve made clearly reveal to me that I’m not putting a lot of stock in making money. I’ve blown thousands of dollars on bad relationships and ill-informed uses for credit cards. I’ve turned down higher-paying opportunities to stick by a boss who ultimately fired me and left me with no reward for my loyalty, even when it was my creative work that kept the company afloat. I took a big studio idea and deliberately made it dark and eccentric, so when my script sale moment arrived I got paid indie wages. I’ve persisted in writing genres outside my comfort zone to the consternation of my agent, who wishes I’d write another teen comedy already.

It’s nice to have principles, they’ve kept me largely doing work that I find satisfying, but they’ve also brought me to my present circumstances, which are not satisfying. And with every Earth orbit that ticks by, it becomes clearer and clearer that it’s not Hollywood’s ignorance of me that has me here, it’s not my lack of effort or ambition…

It’s your talent, stupid.

You accrue debt each day that you convince yourself that you’re good enough to keep at it for another day. It needs to be repaid, and I hate to say it, but there comes a point where the approbation of friends and family just doesn’t knock the principal down any. I need that gig. I need to stage another play. I need a greenlight. I need
something, because I’m 29 now, damn it.

So that’s what kept me up, I’m pretty certain. But once I exiled my cat from the bedroom and shut the door, once I had a glass of water and tossed my balled-up sheets aside, I slept, I dreamt, and five hours later felt invigorated. Birthday cards popped up in my Inbox, I made an omelet, the lovely Monkeygirl phoned in from her current adventure to the Hawaiian Islands. And later I’ll have presents, and Chinese food, and cake. And tomorrow I’ll have drinks with friends in LA. And Saturday we will party.

And I intend to be happy about all that.

Last Movie I Saw
: World Trade Center. The review is in the works.


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