Back in 2013 and 2014, I was spending a lot of time and money trying to find agents, producers, managers, directors—anybody, more or less—for my scripts. I’d get a nibble and get excited only to have it all fall apart a few weeks or months later. I’d get an option and then it would lapse. It was the constant feeling of swimming upstream.
At the same time, I was also bumping along with my prose. My Sherlock Holmes stories were doing pretty well. I was getting solid interest on the Peter manuscript. Sure, a lot of that fell through too, but there was certainly more sense of forward progress with my prose projects than with the screenwriting. And I wasn’t losing money on pitches and attorney’s fees, either.
So I finally had to stop and ask myself: How much does being a screenwriter really mean to me? Am I willing to continue tossing money and energy down that well? Or is my time better served focusing on my prose?
I’d already stopped writing stage plays. Maybe it was time to whittle myself down again.
And it’s not that I don’t want to do screenwriting. But I also don’t enjoy beating my head against a wall. I get pretty depressed, honestly, and it felt like it was time to limit the avenues that would generate that depression. And maybe that’s the wrong attitude to have. Maybe you’re saying, “Well, then, you must not be much of a writer if you can’t handle rejection.” Or, “You must not want it badly enough then.” And you could be correct on either or both counts. I don’t know. But I have enough self-awareness to know my own limits. And I’d finally reached one with the screenwriting.
It’s a difficult choice. My scripts received a lot of good feedback, did well in a number of competitions. But that doesn’t actually win you anything or get you much of anywhere. And I don’t have it in me to write the stuff most people seem to want to direct or produce. (Though in a number of cases I had interested directors, but they couldn’t get funding for the projects. So . . . I wasn’t writing what people wanted to invest in, I guess?)
I write full time. It’s my job. But I have to choose projects that are, in the end, going to further my goals. And, you know, maybe make me a little money. Writers can seldom afford to live off their earnings, but I do like to be able to fund my hair-and-nails habit.
A while back one of the pitching services I’d used a few times e-mailed me to suggest I try this or that manager. It was tempting. It’s like gambling, and you keep hoping you’ll hit the jackpot or whatever. But I started thinking about everything else I’d rather do with that money. And I reminded myself of how this service had suggested this or that person before and it had never worked out. So I walked away.
I’m having to live with the possibility that I’m not “good enough” for The Biz. I’m having to remind myself that doesn’t mean I’m entirely worthless. I’m having to come to terms with the fact that not all my dreams in life are going to be realized. Not all my goals are going to be met. It’s a hard lesson. But I’ve done a lot, and I hope to do much more. I’m just picking my battles.