There is an old saying in college, “Academics, sleep, and friends, pick two” that I think applies to being an aspiring screenwriter. Now for me it is “Friends, writing, and a job, pick two.” Think about it, if you find a job that actually pays the rent, even if it is in the entertainment industry, it will necessarily be full time, and you can’t spend much time writing if you are at work all day. But if you choose to spend your evenings writing you are sacrificing any social life, however meager. Then again, if you are spending all of your time writing and hanging out with friends, unless you have a serious trust fund or a relative willing to put you up for the next five years, forget about the shelter thing. And if you have friends and a job and a writing gig, and that job is your writing gig, well, please call me because we need to hang out.
In my experience, my best writing periods have also been my loneliest, the times when I couldn’t find anyone to spend time with. This June in Ann Arbor I spent all day writing, because there were no distractions, of course, I was also living with my mom, which negates the whole “job” thing. Nor did I have any friends in Ann Arbor, but we’ll dismiss that fact to maintain my theory here.
Now that I have three jobs, and I am here trying to pay for an apartment in Los Angeles, I am hard pressed to find any time to write. I have brief snatches of time, but then I get distracted by the internet, a book, or a phone call from my girlfriend (not that I mind that, so please don’t stop calling). I am happy to say that I have friends and a job (I hope writing that doesn’t jinx it) but I don’t have any writing time.
I am one of those writers who needs to get in “the zone,” that means at least three hours in front of the computer staring into space thinking before I am ready to commit words to paper. Three jobs make it hard to find that time. I remember reading James Agee, who said that he did most of his writing in small snatches of time between various things in his life. I wish I could do that, James, but I find my focus is lacking when I am, say, on line at the grocery store. My hands are tied, I need these jobs to pay for things but I need my time to write. Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” and I can’t help but imagine he was thinking of all the writers who needed to give up their passion to afford a Boston apartment and a few drinks at the pub each night.
It comes down to this: I either need a wealthy benefactor or a writing job. If you can offer either of these things, please comment on this post. If you can’t, it’s OK to comment, we are in this together, but just know, I may not be able to respond for a couple of days because, you know, well, I have work.