For the past couple years, I've had lots of irons in the fire. I've won some awards for my writing, I've written short film scripts, teleplays, stage plays, screenplays, and an entire novel. I've written for blogs and created text for published books, and I now have a manager shopping around one of my TV projects (EVOLUTION). And I haven't stopped creating, for longer than a few days at a stretch; in fact, a new TV project (TWIRL) is up for a spot at Table Read My Screenplay at Sundance. Right now, I'm gearing up to write a short film with a director-friend of mine, to be shot in 2018; amazingly, funding is already in place.
But, in many ways, I am still nowhere. I have yet to turn any of these 'irons' into ... whatever blacksmiths make. Horse shoes? Axes? All of the things that iron can be made into. I've made nothing, contributed nothing to the national conversation. I'm still in the shop, pounding away, sweating profusely, with "nothing" to show for it.
It begs the question... why do I keep doing this?
Much like every other human being I've ever met, I feel certain at times that no one cares about what I have to say, or what I think is cool, yet I keep writing and talking, anyways. I feel lonely, so I reach out with words in an effort to connect. I'm afraid of embarrassing myself, but equally afraid to be boring, or plain, or obscure. And I'm constantly asking myself, Why? Why do I feel like telling stories, in the first place? Why do I have characters and situations rolling though my brain, all day long? Isn't that crazy? And how come I keep subjecting myself to disappointment? I've been writing seriously for the better part of a decade, and I'm still not making my living from all of this. What on earth makes me keep going?
The answer, for any of you who might be struggling with the same, is... I have no idea. I have no idea why I keep going. I enjoy the characters in my head; is that so wrong? I feel a deep sense that I'm not 'seen' in our media, so I push characters out there who I relate to; isn't that what writers (and other artists and creators) do? I feel a sense of duty to talk bout the things I think are real, and true, (spiritually) in this life... is there really any difference between me, and a priest, a rabbit, or a guru? (Those guys aren't considered crazy; yet... I mean... they are totally believing in something no one can explain, or prove!) Spielberg and Abrams, they aren't crazy. So, neither am I. I'm in the game, but still on the verge. Maybe I'll always be on the verge? Sure, that's a risk. It continues to feel like a tightrope walk. But stopping doesn't feel like something I could do, either. So, I soldier on. Stopping, at this point, would feel like defeat. Which, frankly, scares me more than the reality: that while I may fall down, falling down means I'm in the arena, which means I can always get back up again, and keep fighting. (BTW, here's a great Medium piece on fear of failure, and why it keeps most people from having what they truly want.)
Every beginner creates with a healthy balance of self-doubt, inner drive, enthusiasm, and resolve. You'd think that established creators simply drop the self-doubt piece, but from what I've heard, some do, but some don't. So for an intermediate like myself, the question isn't about why I keep doing it, or should I keep doing it. At this point, it's simply a question of stamina. Do I have the stamina to keep creating, until something comes of it?
At this stage, friends, I gotta tell you: it's day-to-day. But I still feel I'm the most myself when I'm reaching out with my feelings, and words. When I'm engaged, and trying to be heard, seen and understood. When I'm trying to connect.
Perhaps nothing ever has to come from any of this... so long as I'm doing my best to connect. To reaching out with my feelings, and saying, "Don't you feel like this, too?"