Fighting to Maintain Your Goals

Boy, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

In fact, I hadn’t realized it had been five weeks since my last post until I sat down to write this cry for creative sanity. I’m not even certain how this post will do considering Facebook recently ruined the ability to hotlink automatically from WordPress.

Sure, I’ve been chipping away at the My Cancer Story rewrite when I’m able (the now vacant tentpole of this blog for two years), and I’ve been recording notes and elements for other projects (as I’m wont to do), but this past month has been one of the busiest ever let alone since I’ve moved to Los Angeles. I’m living my dream, but if I’m not too careful, I’ll tumble backward into someone else’s.

Let me explain.

I moved to L.A. to work in the film & television industry– just like the majority of transplants. I wasn’t the only one (no Jesus complex here), but I knew that I wanted to write – and sometimes direct – my own material. There are two types of fantastical dream jobs for which film-fanatic folks strive for in Hollywood.

If one wants to be in front of the camera, then they want to be an actor. No one aims to be a stand-in or a background actor right out of the gate.

Conversely, if one wants to be behind the camera, the vague and lofty goal of writer/director is often bandied about by amateurs who have absolutely no idea how insurmountable that title proves to be.

I know how crazy I sound when I say that I want to be a writer/director, but then again, I’m not cocky; I often hate my own work, and when I revisit it, I despise said work. I’ll surely judge this very post, weeks later.

These are the unfortunate traits of a true writer, mediocre or advanced. I need to harness my skill and determine the extent of my capability within the profession. And I can only get better each day that I choose to sit in front of my computer… or record a new note on my voice recorder… or crouch over the elusive notebook… Writing is writing, and to improve the craft, one must simply do it.

Which brings me to my current state. I haven’t been writing as much as I need in order to properly function. I’ve been working as a Production Assistant on 9-1-1 Season Two since mid-July, and my typical workweek hovers around eighty hours on average.

Yes, on average.

I’ve never worked so hard in my life, and I truly love the job and being on set. The gig has a sort of “run & gun” pace, and I love zooming around set assisting the production in any way that I can. Aside from completing a stimulating writing session, this is when I feel the most alive.

But I don’t love the job, and I know that if I continue on this “convenient” path, I will wind up with a starkly different film career than for which I had originally moved. I must endeavor for the very reason I gave up my old life, or this will all be for naught.

I didn’t drive all the way across the country only to settle now.

So, my writing has slowed substantially, and the confidence in my ability has waned because of it. But now, I find myself an amalgamation of the two sides of my coin, the fun-loving oaf of yesteryear, and the determined Type A adult of today. All this, thanks to a video I spent over a hundred hours editing for my friend Shawn’s bachelor party. (Another reason for my slowed writing.)

When I moved to L.A., it was to rediscover my personality after a decade of meandering in a state (Maine) that was as stifling as it was breathtaking. This video rekindled hearty laughter in my day-to-day experiences, and I’m forever grateful for that.

Yesterday, on 9-1-1 we filmed a building that was on fire. One of the 2nd Assistant Directors (AD) and I heaved a rented dumpster out of the frame of our shot in full safety vest regalia. I laughed as I pushed the trash receptacle, and said, “I want to work in Hollywood!” The job isn’t always glamorous, and I’m grateful for that.

Later in the night, as I was setting the actions of the few background I had near my lockup, one of them name-dropped a production company who had (reportedly) expressed interest in her television series idea, and I couldn’t help but smirk. This is how I had sounded when I name-dropped someone that I had worked with.

When I would say something about “Jim Carrey” or “Dwayne Johnson,” I found myself grinning like an idiot, not because I was relishing in the name-drop, but because I had realized how idiotic I sounded, and that only exacerbated the assumption that I was doing this on purpose. I was simply amused by the insipid anecdote.

After being challenged in my beliefs over the past month, I realized that I must double down on my passion or I will succumb to the failure of settlement.

I’m a nomad, baby. Always looking forward, never willing to settle again.

Ahh, thank God. These posts always help me alleviate writer’s block. The fire inside of me isn’t dead, but smoldering under the embers, ready to explode.

-Jamie (@GuyOnAWire)


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