“Being Here Doesn’t Mean You Belong.”
The billboards for “Hellcats,” a new show on the CW, have popped up on Santa Monica Boulevard and on the 10 Freeway; I can catch them pretty much anytime I leave my apartment. These words, and the attitude-mannequins that accompany them, taunt me, as if their special message was meant for me. Being in Los Angeles doesn’t mean we’ll ever let you be a screenwriter. We already have enough of those. You don’t belong. Go home. Get lost.
And that’s when the negative thoughts start: The competitions I didn’t make, the rejection letters, the unreturned query e-mails, and the screenplays and specs now sitting in a box, unread, unedited, forgotten testaments to failure. Index cards gathering dust. Unfinished sketches sitting on my computer desktop. Replays and remembrances of the times and places I received those rejection letters. The dual failures of criticism and giving into the words printed on those form letters.
But the message, “Doesn’t mean you belong” still haunts me. I’ve heard many people describe Hollywood as a high school. I’ve never seen it as such, but now I sort of understand: A high school clique, the kind that dresses in spandex and leads cheers. The kind you’ll never belong to. The kind who if I asked, would tell me there are enough creative types to go around.
On bad days, the thoughts keep going and keep me from my writing. The billboards become ubiquitous. On better days, I remember other things: the friend who for six months sent me the agency job list every day, the comments to this blog, friends who are also writers, and other stories of directors not making it for years and then one day helming a movie.
I guess the payoff is that it’s only a billboard. I don’t have to watch the show, nor do I have to be a part of its nasty clique. If I’m lucky, I’ll find my own television show, one that fits, something more my speed and accepting of my writing and identity, high school quirks and all.
And don’t worry, my revenge will come when Hellcats gets cancelled in two months.