I have questioned many times how much I am living and how much I am just alive. For those who don’t know the difference, I’ll try to explain.
Being alive is just that. You walk around, you breathe, eat, sleep, go to work, maybe watch some TV…but it’s just a routine. Day in and day out. There’s no real enjoyment in it. No pleasure. You don’t hate it but you don’t love it. You exist and you keep existing and nothing different ever happens. To be fair, a lot of people are comfortable with this type of routine because a lot of people thrive on it and if you do like this type of life, great. I’m not here to tell you that it’s wrong. In fact, I wish I could enjoy this type of thing like many other people do because then I wouldn’t be here questioning everything like I am.
Living? Well, that’s a whole other thing. That is grabbing life by the horns and yanking it down. Reaching your potential every single day. Going for the gold, reaching for the stars, taking this short time we have on this planet and making the most of it because you only get one life to live. You cherish every second you have and you know that you are living the dream, making a difference, or both. It has meaning. It’s beautiful. You don’t take any second of it for granted.
I have, many times, been at a point where I wondered if I’m just alive and not really living. Right now, I know that I’m not living. I can envision where I’d like to be and what I’d like to be doing but it’s not going to happen. Ever. I know what people will say, though, mostly that everyone feels like that and once the pandemic is over and things get back to normal then it will be different. I don’t disagree, for the most part. I mean, I’m sure I’ll feel better once I can go out again regularly, see an actual movie in the theaters, walk around the mall and browse things or not be terrified of grocery shopping. Yes, that will make me feel a slight percentage better than I already do but, I still won’t be living.
The problem with me (and I suppose many other writers or artists) is that, we want so much more from our work than we will ever get. I have dreams of being a film maker. Not just a writer but being part of the whole process. I wouldn’t have gone through the painstaking task of learning video editing, directing, story boarding, and writing just to write a screenplay and sell it off. Yes, I understand that some people write screenplays just with the intent to sell them and don’t care what happens after (nothing wrong with that) but I’m not that person. As hard as it is to believe, I’m not in this for fame or for money, I’m in this for the love of the craft.
There is a whole catch-22 situation where money makes life easier and in turn would make it easier to pursue what I want to do. I want the money to be able to create the visions in my head but I also at the same time don’t care if it makes me famous or rich in return. I would gladly work 16 hour days for little to no pay as long as I had creative control over a project. I would hinge everything on the possibility of later profits, box office scores, or just the chance that my own book or movie would become something that would pay off over time. I would invest in myself, take no money up front, and work my literal ass to exhaustion just to see my dreams come to life. It isn’t about fame it isn’t about money it’s about the art. It always has been.
I’ve had dozens of conversations with people, hypothetical obviously, where they’ll say, “Okay, tomorrow someone calls you and offers you a million dollars for the rights to make one of your books into a movie, what do you say?” My initial reaction would be to ask, “How much creative control do I get?” and the person tells me, “Nothing, you just get the money but you can’t control how they interpret your book for the screen.” and that’s when I say, “No Deal.” This is the part where I’m told I’m insane. Who wouldn’t take the money? Am I an idiot? I’ll never sell anything if I have such high expectations for my work and what should be done with it. Yet, that’s the thing, I don’t want to exchange my creativity for a shit ton of money. I want my creativity to be just that, mine. I would need zero literal dollars to work on one of my own project if someone gave me the chance or budget. The worst part is that this is my dream, it’s the only dream I’ve ever had, and I know this will never be my life.
People say that if you want something like that you have to go out and get it. Take it. They also are usually people who have money. I don’t. I don’t have the initial funds to invest in things like that. I can’t travel on a whim or just move out to California because I want to. This is a dream that unless someone else comes and gives me the chance, I will never live it. Before anyone thinks that I’m not doing anything to facilitate this, I am. I network, I got to conventions, I make contacts, I’m not sitting here in a dark room just wishing it’ll work. Trust me. I do the ground work, the foot work, the talking, the blind pitches, the cold reads…but it’s not enough. It’s never enough. I don’t live in L.A where I should in order to give myself a slightly better chance of success and I never will.
I have my books out there, but they aren’t good enough for the traditional publishing route. I have finished screenplays that I network around and try to make deals with. Since I want so much involvement in production, I’m stubborn and not willing to give up on the idea that if someone took a chance on me they wouldn’t be disappointed but I can’t get anyone to take that chance. I fear that, because it won’t happen for me (and I’m pretty much certain of it at this point) that I may be alive for a very long time but I will never know what it’s like to live.