Writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing …
Yep. Writing. Is it stupid to write about writing? It sounds stupid, I dunno. I’m currently in the weeds of the first draft of my first novel, a place that even a year ago, I didn’t think I’d ever be. I don’t know what I was thinking I would do after grad school—write a few stageplays and call it a day? Try and get a couple of short stories published? Sure, I’m in the process of doing those things, but here I am, at the time of this writing, with a story that is 55,489 words long. Albeit, they are 55,489 messy, scattered and disorganized words, but still, they’re mine.
It’s my goal to get a completed draft done by the end of the year—yes, this year—or to 75,000 words, whichever comes first. I have even scheduled a solitary trip out to Palm Springs over Christmas weekend to try and hammer out what will probably be the final four or five thousand words. Wait, let me read that sentence again: I’m going to travel, alone, on Christmas, out the middle of the desert, with my laptop, to try and write the remaining words of the first draft of my novel—a novel that might not even be very good, or amount to anything at all … I suppose this is more or less what being a writer is about. Maybe so, but right now it sounds crazy.
Today, just today, for some reason, the name of a guy I went to high school with popped into my head and I felt an overwhelming urge to Google him, which I did, because I knew that he lived somewhere here, in L.A., and I was surprised, shocked even, to discover that he was a partner in his own law firm in Century City. A lawyer? This guy was the biggest, dumbest jock in high school and he’s a lawyer with his own firm? In Los Angeles?
I know everyone carves their own path, sure, but I could not help, in that moment, no matter how much I told myself that he was certainly rich but probably almost just as unhappy, feeling just a little bit—not sorry for myself so much—but small and a little ashamed and totally under-prepared and ill-equipped for life. This guy isn’t any older than I am and yet he seems so much more together, so much more adult than I do. It stung, to be honest, since, you know, as a big geek in high school, your survival is due partly to the fact that you cling so tightly to the idea that those stupid jocks who make your life hell will one day end up hating life and serving french fries. Guess what? It’s not true.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say, other than ‘life is not fair,’ is that there are some days, like today, that the decision to be a writer feels like a bad one. A path destined for poverty and obscurity and struggle and being misunderstood. After all, isn’t it just so easy to write a book? A friend of mine’s family recently wanted to know why she didn’t just go write a story like Harry Potter ’cause that’s what that J.K. Rowling did, because, you know, it’s supposed to be so easy. People don’t know—you people don’t know. Hell, just finding the time and energy to write anything after a full day of work is hard most of the time. I find myself sacrificing a lot of social interactions and sleep and money to make even the smallest amounts of headway. And yet, I keep doing it? Why? Why? Why don’t I just go get a job at a law firm?
I don’t know. For the little victories, I suppose. Like this past weekend, when my former thesis adviser praised one of the pages I submitted in playwriting workshop as “one of the best I’d ever written,” though he was quick to follow it up by pointing out that the very next page was one of the worst he’d ever seen from me. I had to laugh. ‘Cause that’s what it’s like, all the time, this writing life. And yet, it’s here and I’ve chosen it and it’s mine. So I’d better go get to it …