Like everyone else who believes their doctors and not what they read on the internet, I’m still more-or-less hunkered down at home, servicing my remaining freelance clients remotely and trying, in between bouts of incredulity and despair, to remain positive enough to make constructive use of this time.
I don’t always succeed. I’m just saying I’m trying.
The Fall is the season when a lot of writing contests start making their announcements. A few weeks ago I updated to the screenwriting page here a mention that both of the scripts (a comedy feature and a sitcom pilot) I submitted to the Page International Screenwriting Contest made it to the Quarter-Finals, which I consider a “win” given how big a contest that is. Likewise, this week I was notified that the script I submitted (a sitcom pilot) to the Austin Film Fest & Screenwriting competition made it to “Second-Rounder” status, which is pretty much their equivalent of a quarter-final berth. This also keeps my streak alive in that every script I’ve ever submitted to Austin has at least made it that far. I think I’ve had six or seven “second-rounders.”
It is a small bit of personal good news in the vast ocean of bad news that we’re all living through. It would feel pretty stupid to try to make a big deal out of any of it while 200,000+ Americans have died (so far) from a deadly pandemic and many more are bound to follow. It is hard to justify sitting down and typing and trying to be “funny” for hours a day while the world is both literally and figuratively on fire. The words I manage to generate mostly seem lifeless, sub-par, and frivolous, like worrying about any kind of “creative output” is equal parts foolish and selfish. Every writer and “creative” friend I know is going through the same thing right now.
Having the time (and money) to sit and type is, admittedly, in a lot of ways a luxury and privilege… but it is also an earned privilege. Earned how? Earned by thousands of hours of writing for free, and working and performing for free, all in an effort to learn and get better. Earned by driving the same car for 20 years which, in Los Angeles, is probably considered a misdemeanor at least. Earned by helping every friend who has ever requested a “read” or some other help without hesitation or expectation.
It is also how I cope with my own feelings of anxiety and fear, and the things I don’t normally post about here on my little “hey, look at me!” website. The crisis we’re living through, and have been living through for the past four years has changed us all, and it will change the nature of our work. I hope we can all get to a point where we can look back on this chaos and carnage from a safe future vantage point. When we start to process it all, I’m sure new artistic movements will arise, the same way my beloved Dada-ists arose after the unspeakable horrors of World War One. In my darker moments though, I’m not sure how or when or even if we’ll get to that future point of safety. But I’m hoping we all do.
Stay Safe. Stay Hopeful.