December already. Like a lot of people, I had hoped 2022 would bring back some much-missed calm and normalcy, but that just wasn’t the case for me – nor for most of the people I know. While I understand that, from a global perspective, I’m still incredibly lucky (or blessed or privileged or whatever you want to call it) compared to the vast majority of my eight billion fellow humans, I reserve the right to say “Seriously, what the actual f#ck?!” every once in a while too.
I started the year off in January with a middling case of Covid which incapacitated me for a week – and reminded me of how much worse it could have been if I wasn’t vaccinated. This lesson was brought home for real a few weeks later when my unvaccinated literary agent died from Covid after a months-long horror show of respirators, medically-induced comas, and sorrow for his family. At the risk of sounding callous or mercenary, losing my agent at this point in my career/life is a pretty big setback. I’ve had to spend a lot of time this year hustling to find a new one – a process that is never easy in the best of Industry times… and these are not good Industry times, so the search continues.
Bigger problems surfaced when I was in a serious car accident in February. While both parties walked away, my car was a total loss and, as you can imagine, the ensuing insurance hassles that followed took up a lot of my mental/emotional bandwidth for the rest of the year (and still are, in fact) and plunged me into a spiral of anxiety of all kinds.
Oddly, this negative state of mind channeled itself into an unexpected creative place: A few weeks after the accident, I suddenly had an idea for a Horror feature. Anyone who knows me knows how out of character this is for me. I haven’t watched horror movies since I was a kid in the 80s and I don’t read horror books – at all. Heck, Stranger Things sometimes freaks me out a bit too much and I’ve never seen a single episode of American Horror Story either… call me a scardy-cat if you must. So it was extremely odd when an idea for a horror movie (which has nothing to do with cars or car accidents, by the way) arrived in my brain fully formed. Maybe the muses saw where my head was at and took pity on me.
I wrote the entire first draft in about 10 days, and then – after doing barely more than a quick spelling & grammar check, I submitted that first draft to two Horror screenplay competitions and landed in the Quarter-finals in both. Now, two drafts later, I think it is a script that needs to be read, purchased, and shot. I also took (yet another) sitcom pilot idea of mine from blank page to completion this year. It too did OK in a few contests in just its 2nd draft, and I’ve tightened it considerably since then. A feature and a sitcom pilot, not bad output for a year like this one… if only my agent hadn’t died, these scripts might already be “out” in the world, making an impression.
I also read a lot this year, as usual. I should really keep better track of what I read, but at least the kindle app on my phone keeps track of a lot of it. I focused on female writers this year and was blown away by short story collections from Joy Williams and Izumi Suzuki, as well as two ahead-of-their-time novels by the late Ann Quin. I also read a couple of Vonnegut novels I had missed and was delighted to discover Ben Franklin’s autobiography (as part of the “Harvard Classics” collection you can find for FREE for kindle) which read so vividly, you could really hear his voice in it. Some other non-fiction reads included a few books on fungi, meditation, sobriety, and things called “hyper objects,” which I still don’t quite understand. There’s more, but I’m sure you all have enough stuff on your own reading lists already.
I didn’t do any live shows of any kind this year. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I’ve been on stage exactly once since the start of the Covid-times. I have kept busy doing voice-over and character work for some friends’ various podcasts, which is incredibly fun and convenient – since I can record at home, but I find myself missing performing in front of people. I think my biggest creative goal for 2023 will be to climb back on stage because I’m starting to fear that if I don’t go back “up” soon, I won’t get back on stage at all. I also want to get back to making my weekly LA Cartoon – which after 10 years of weekly posts seemed to run out of momentum for me back in April. Maybe I was busy and not taking enough photos, but I also think it had something to do with my post-car accident state-of-mind, which I struggled with all year.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: I went through some major surgery in August to repair a damaged hip and have so far recovered pretty well from that.
…as I said, it was quite a non-standard and challenging year, but I feel like I can honestly say I did my best and got back up after every knock-down. I’m looking forward to the new year and will, as always, do my best to meet any challenges that come my way with a “yes, and…” and to be as proactive and creative as I possibly can. That’s what I’m here for.
I wish anyone reading this a safe & successful 2023.
We’re all in this together, one way or another.