The Other Me
‘Life’s Short Interruption: Part I’
I finished the screenplay for the director, Mike, and pissed him off by ignoring his instructions – not completely, but enough. He wanted a biker flick set to a certain mould. I started with the mould, but somewhere along the way broke it, thinking he’d love whatever I wrote. When he didn’t, I rewrote it free of charge. He’d liked that version better, but had now moved onto other projects.
It was my first lesson in writing for other people – give them what they want, not what you think will win them over. Most importantly, don’t ever believe you’re so brilliant that you can do what you want and the world will stop and wow at your brilliance. Life just doesn’t work that way – or it wasn’t going to for me, at least.
I was disconsolate, thinking I’d blown a possible break, but on the other hand, I was also still close. You don’t get hired to write screenplays by people working in the industry unless you’re capable. This was something I could do. I could write, deal peripherally with people, and try to build a career. The experience with Mike had given me some self-belief, and had kickstarted the littlest bit of momentum.
I kept writing. It was the only thing I could ever do, that I ever saw to fruition. School, I’d left out of boredom. Exercise, I’d do for a month or so, then quit. Better diet, I’d adhere to it for a little while, then lapse. Everything else I abandoned, given enough time, or the feeling I’d done as much as I could with it – everything but writing. I could finish a story. I could finish a book.
Now, though, I focused on screenplays. When I was rejected I rang up to find out what I could improve on. One short screenplay I wrote got glowing reviews from the people I’d sent it to, and I was told their choice had come down to it and another submission, but the director had chosen the other submission because she was more familiar with the subject matter. Another encouraging sign.
I was still bartending for my village’s reception hall, although that was something I did while I had a few beers myself. It was my only means of coping. I should’ve looked for full-time work, but had no confidence in myself outside of my private little universe. Anxiety had boxed me up, and I dared not get out of that box. The world was dangerous outside of that box. I was safe in that box.
Things felt okay – not perfect, because things could never be perfect – but, still, there was no returning to before this had occurred. Even though I’d overcome it in my way, it was still there, scarred into me. But at least I was comfortable in myself, comfortable enough in my world, with aspirations, with friends, with life as it was, or at least seemed to be.
And writing would provide my break. I was sure of it. There were so many promising nibbles. It was just a matter of time.
Or so I thought.