I have found my condition as of late common among my creative friends. Namely, without the structure of project deadlines and the threat of failing a class just to regurgitate more money to enroll in the same course—most likely with the same professor, who will greet you on the first day with that empty gaze of disgust—it’s easy to neglect your writing.
This condition is easy to slip into for another reason: writing requires discipline. Who knew?
We all have day jobs until our craft is profitable enough to sustain our rent and three-dollar coffees. While I acknowledge that a relatively small number of novelists are completely supported by their work, I’d like to think I’ll be among them someday. But this requires, that’s right, work.
My novel and I were not agreeing; so, we mutually decided to take a break from each other. I worked on a screenplay while my book took a cruise to Mexico and drank too many piña coladas. It obviously had a better time while I, frankly, missed my characters.
During its absence, I took an internship at a major movie production company because I thought I wanted to work my way up the Hollywood ladder again to hedge my bets on the employment side. However, as Paulo Coleho’s novel The Alchemist repeats: “Once you set your heart on something, the universe conspires in your favor.”
Let me give you three examples.
First, during the internship, I read a script by a new writer/director. The story was about breaking into Hollywood on your own terms instead of working as an assistant and serving someone else’s dream. I try not to believe in signs, but this thematic coincidence was unsettling.
Second, recent events in my friend’s life very closely resemble the plot of my novel. My role in her situation is even my protagonist’s role. I was able to live my book, and I found myself taking notes.
Third, the Starbucks barista misheard my name; so my chai was called under the name Ed. Guess my narrator’s name. That’s right. Ed. I took it as divine inspiration that I was supposed to write.
In the end, after taking the long but grateful road that drove me past the windows of the Hollywood corporate ladder I learned I no longer want to climb, past the coffee shops telling me I was a fictional person, and around the bend of life imitating art, I have decided (again) to break into the professional world on my own terms.
I have returned to my plan of writing my book before anything else because it’s the story I care about most. After all, Michael Phelps didn’t become the best by splitting his training in the pool with the ice rink. I even wrote six and a half pages yesterday.