I have officially become a tortured artist.
I had never believed in that crap before. To me, the “tortured artist” was an anachronistic idea that allowed angst-ridden weirdo-artists to swath themselves in alcohol, drugs, and sex addiction. Were their lives really that hard? I doubted it.
Then, I moved out to LA in my vain attempt to break into the writing world. In all my vanity, I had decided that it would take me two years, tops, to break into the TV writing biz, get on a show, convince network execs to give me a deal, and then write comfortably from the cold, unhappy winters of the East Coast, corrupting the minds of the 18-49 demo with intellectualized, comedic, drivel.
I’m only three months in, but I’m already behind on my very-unrealistic two-year plan.
And so, every afternoon, as I toil through a corporate job which pays the bill but doesn’t get me any closer to the so-called “dream” of writing, I have the following (highly-annoying) conversation with myself:
OK, let’s set the stage for this little discussion. Topic: my quarterlife crisis. Yes, again. Fine, this isn’t really a quarterlife crisis, unless I live to 100 – so if you want, we can probably call it a 30%-life crisis. Well… then again, by the time I die, everyone will be living past 100 (hey, hey, healthcare). That would make for a really long Happy-Birthday-from-Smuckers segment on the Today Show. Network television will be gone by then anyway. Okay. Get back on track. We’ll call it a quarterlife crisis. Although, “crisis” is much too overdramatic: perhaps it’s more of a “dilemma”?
Back to my dilemma. Not that I’m freaking out, but… What am I doing here? Am I doing the right thing? If I want to write, shouldn’t I just quit my job and write? But, it’s good to have a job. And it’s not like I’m sitting on an unlimited pile of money. Could there be alternative options, between this corporate life and the peripatetic, never-employed existence as a writer? (Is it weird that of all the writers I’ve met, 99% are men who wear Coke bottle glasses? Not even exaggerating). Would I be better suited for advertising / journalism / magazine editing / or even academia? Should I settle on an existence that could take me back to the East Coast? Because although I could kick it in LA for 2 years, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it after that.
Maybe I should get an MFA. Or an MBA. Or maybe I should just start a routine of lying in fetal position every few hours to facilitate the osmotic transfer of ideas? My friends all have legitimate jobs with workable hours and fat salaries and the promise of steady employment. I could do that too, if I wanted. But I don’t. Or do I? Maybe I just don’t know what I want. (Heightened panic.) What am I doing with my life??!?
Let’s watch Where Are They Now? Clips from The Biggest Loser. That makes me feel better. At least I’m not on the verge of a hypoglycemic coma.
I ate six cookies today. Maybe I am…
Let’s get to the denouement. I’m extraordinarily lucky. I have options. That might not seem like a good thing now, but in the long run, it is. I just need to make up my mind and choose… choose the path I want to go down… — Why can’t I do it all??!?! — Calm down, crazy. Keep doing what you’re doing. Stay in your job, and continue to write on the side. — Even if I’m only writing educational finance parodies to ‘80s music??? — Sure. Because, one day, you’ll have a breakthrough. And if not, then at least you’ve tried, and you won’t ever regret it.
— Are you sure I won’t regret not selling out earlier? Because the time value of money says I’ll regret it. —
Yeah, you’re right.