The Writer’s Life: Should Old Failures Be Forgot?

As many of us Odd-Jobbers tend to say most years-

INT. APARTMENT – NIGHT

TONY throws away his cheesy 2012 calendar. A cat is on the cover hanging from a branch. The caption reads: Hang In There.

TONY

This year went much too quickly.

Because I had to work most of the Christmas holiday, I was only able to go home for a few days and see my family. We don’t gather as a whole unit very often, so I always covet the time we have. This time of year I don’t get much writing done anyway, so I used the precious days to catch up and play board games (a family tradition). I’ve been feeling really down on myself lately (the job search has gone worse than my high expectations, and my writing has been sub-par for several months.) A few rounds of Zombie!, Axis & Allies, and Munchkin were just what the non-existent doctor ordered. (I in no way have health insurance; I’m not even sure what doctors look like anymore. Probably robots now… that would be awesome. I need to make an appointment with Dr. Robot. I digress. ) As I was heading home Christmas Day to drag myself into work the following morning, my stepfather gave me a hug and told he was proud of me.

INT. HOUSE – NIGHT

The living room is filled with bright Christmas Holiday CHRISTMAS! decorations.

A melancholy TONY has a laundry basket full of new gifts.

TONY

(sarcastically)

At least someone is.

Ho-ho! Zinger upon mine-self. Moments like these can burn themselves in your head and drive you forward for another year of throwing yourself at a wall of words defiantly screaming-

EXT. CITY – DAY

A wall is covered in properly formatted English graffiti. Adjectives, Adverbs, and Pro-nouns all eloquently spray-painted. TONY attacks the wall with a sword covered in ink.

TONY

Bring it on Hollywood! I have plenty of ink!

Often we as Odd-Jobbing writers have very high expectations of ourselves. By this age I had expected to have a decent career filled with sold screenplays and up and coming novels. I thought that I would be starting a family, own a house, or at least be marginally happy with my career and prospects.

INT. APARTMENT – NIGHT

TONY crumples up the last paragraph and throws it in the recycling bin.

TONY

Blah, blah,blah… I’ve said that before.

As of today I’ve had no “signature victory.” Each day is filed with small battles won and lost on the journey toward something of which I’m not yet entirely certain. Some days I feel I am a writer, others an actor, and sometimes I get frisky and convince myself I’m a comedian again… and then sometimes I think I might be none of those things. My friends are all “adults”, and suddenly I’m Peter Pan while all of the Lost Boys have decided to pack it up an go home, have kids, get promoted, and buy new barbeques while I’m left to fly around Neverland playing with my sword. Maybe I was meant to be an Odd-Jobber, one of those lonely old greeters at the super store with an explosion of flair pinned to their vest. I hope not, but then again I might not have as much control over it as I wish.

Disregard most of the negativity in the previous paragraph.

I’ve been trying to be a more positive person. It’s healthier, and optimism is contagious. Hoping to carry me through the New Year, I’ve decided to take the positive outlook on what I’d accomplished this last year, rather than focusing on the failures. (Because honestly as a writer, you need to get over failures because they’ll happen WAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYAAAYYY more often than successes… negative yes. But, also realistic.) So, taking stock of what I’ve accomplished this year:

1.)   I polished one screenplay and finished a first draft of another.

2.)  Won a semi-prestigious screenwriting competition and placed high in two prestigious ones.

3.)  I’m more than half finished with a novel, and I’ve written a strong outline for my next screenplay/novel.

4.)  I’ve started to officially search for yet another job. (Copywriting would give me better pay and affords me the time to write. Currently I work six days a week and by time I get home I just want to crash out. Writing most nights is like getting on a treadmill. Occasionally I get a day off that opens a mental path of inspiration, but most days it’s like being a hamster on Melatonin stumbling in a wheel filled with French Fries and shame.)

5.)   Oh yeah, and I got married.

Big Year.

Each year I think-

INT. OFFICE – NIGHT

TONY sits alone in his tiny apartment, typing yet another article.

TONY

(to himself)

This is the year.

Except that in 2013, it really is.

I know what goals I’ve set for myself for this thirteenth year of the 2K’s. My dream of shooting an entire movie seems ambitious this year (based on my financial standing) however; I am interested in shooting a web series. I’ve created a plan to of how to break the screenplay into a series of webisodes, each of which tells a multi-arc story in a few minutes. Additionally, I want to finish my first novel and begin the process of preparing it for submission. I still have the usual goals (read and exercise more, watch less TV, eat less, save more money, take a trip to ANYWHERE BESIDES LOS ANGELES or the dentist, etc, etc, etc.)

A few things need to happen before I can achieve these goals (Most of which will eventually be documented here over the coming year for better or for worse.) First step toward that goal, I’ve done something “drastic” (depending on where in the world you live) and shut off my cable subscription.

SFX: Dramatic reveal music as the camera zooms in on the dusty tabletop where Tony’s cable box used to reside.

I often spew about ridding myself of distractions as a writer. My biggest distraction isn’t media itself, it’s the lazy attitude I have toward watching it. Watching a television series with purpose to tap into the pulse of current popular culture, enjoy good writing, and speculating on new concepts…

good.

 Spending several hours re-watching old episodes you’ve already watched to avoid smashing through another writing wall…

bad.

Therefore, the proverbial “idiot box” sits atop my desk with all of its lifeline cables coiled in defeat, awaiting its return home to the dusty, carpeted cargo area of the cableman’s windowless van. I’ve replaced the time sucking creature with a streaming box that offers on demand programming. In layman’s terms, no more channel surfing. If I want to watch something I have to make an effort to do so, and that’s half the gosh dern battle.

Tomorrow I’m taking my second step: I’m heading on down to a local Art school and taking a class on Photoshop. I’ve learned all that I can from the DVD tutorials, and it’s time for this young grasshopper to apply his learning. Hopefully in a few weeks I can confidently write: Proficient in Photoshop at the bottom of my Resume and land a coveted Copywriting job.

So my fellow Odd-Jobbers, I urge you to take more baby steps in the coming year. Find your happiness through the balance of managing your lives and finding the time for your writing, working toward that elusive goal we all reach for. Perhaps you have something holding you back that can be set aside or cast off, perhaps not. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished this past year, and then put it to rest and push on. I have my goals for the next three-sixty-five, how about you?

 

And Never Brought to Mind?

#TonyLaScala@Coloropolis

 


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