Last week I had a catchup phone call with a dear friend whom I had not spoken with in depth for far too long. The call took place during a particularly low point of my pretty below-sea-level year. I apologized for falling apart, for having my desperation play in my voice and, horribly, my tears. There was a lot of laughter too, as it is with people you love – people who understand you and will be there for you no matter what. Truthfully, this is something I’m only learning now, at 33. That people will be there for you. I’ve cut a lot of people out of my life to spare myself pain. Sometimes they deserved it but most of the time it was incidental – failures of communication on both side and the march of time that creates an uncrossable distance. But I’m trying to get better, be better. Better to myself and others.
My friend is a writer. The excuse for the call was to talk about one of his projects and the anticipation that the care would be returned on one of mine. There was a lot of bad to catch him up on – my mom’s stroke, my dad’s cancer, my joblessness and periodic, momentarily waxing depression – so it was all a bit too much to not laugh. At one point I asked him why we write – why we still do this to ourselves. Allow the constant tide of disappointment and blank pages. This question was rhetorical, of course. In addition to the other, more tangible problems I’ve been having, writer’s block has also reared its ugly, predictable head. Obviously this is an ironic response to my situation – all the time in the world and no resolve. (Water, water everywhere, etc.) Part of this is discipline, my inability to set up and stick to a writing schedule. But I have to honor the emotional aspect of writing and it’s been hard to focus on something as ephemeral or uncertain as a pilot or movie.
Honestly, I am completely unable to separate my emotional health from my work. I have learned to take things less personally, I know it’s not me on the page, I understand how the world works, how creativity is only a small percentage of the end result, and how ideals are rarely maintained through the process of making a movie/show. Still, hardening myself entirely won’t work. Because at the end of the day, I seek art – its power to transform, heal, entertain. I never bought the art vs. commerce dispute and I don’t think that makes me naive. Though the grim reality of this past year has stripped me of starry-eyed dreams, I’m hopeful in a different way – not that I will ever make enough to live extravagantly or maybe even well. Trying to say something that matters to someone – even if only to myself – is not wasted time.