(I will fill in the space between Wednesday around 4 PM and Sunday at 4 PM later. But this piece is written. So up it goes.)
I hate the Suck.
That’s what Brett calls it. The Suck is that moment when we’re all sitting in the Driskill Lounge and the reality of our collective future sets in. One (or more) of us is about to leave. There is high probability we won’t see each other again until this time next year.
And so, it is at that moment of course, when, having survived the entire weekend abiding by Rule #3, I then broke it.
I feel like such a baby. Weak. Pathetic. I don’t even cry when my parents leave town or I leave them anymore. But Brett and Julie head down the street to his car, and I’m like a mother at her child’s funeral.
I know why it happens – it’s a perfect storm, of course. I’ve been running on fumes for days, burning the candle brightly at both ends, and here on the last day, right when I hit bottom, is right when they leave me. Everyone else looks so puzzled. They don’t quite understand why this is an emotional thing for me.
But the fact is, I am a creature of emotion. Try as I might, to minimize or mitigate them with medication, therapy, sleep…the emotions are always there, running deeply and strongly. It’s part of why I write, to have somewhere for all of the feelings to go besides raging around in my head banging against my skull.
It’s tiring being me sometimes.
The one panel I attended today was with Shane Black, Richard Linklater and Tim McCanlies. Shane’s panel is always a good capper for the weekend, as he sends us back out into our worlds to face our demons down and conquer our fears, writing or otherwise. “Faith, not fear,” he intoned today…so forthright, earnest…clearly, he wants us to approach our writing from a place absent cynicism and despair. When talking about a friend, who says he doesn’t get his hopes up anymore, Shane ponders, ‘Why not?’ Paraphrasing Shane: We should hope. We should want to do well, and sometimes we won’t, but we shouldn’t shut out the hope that we will succeed and deny the happiness or joy it gives us. Shane’s an amazing man – someone who has overcome a lot, including early success, to land at this place, where he comes to this Festival as often as he can to give back to younger writers and inspire us. He’s not an angry man or a cynical man, and anyone who thinks that’s what he is, just doesn’t understand him very well. I don’t claim to understand him, but I see him…”You’re eyes are all so f*cking beautiful.” He told us. Our eyes which are filled with hunger and drive and desire to write and be heard…we haven’t been worn down by the system yet, not by a long shot.
I’m sure he hopes we never will be. Of course, the reality is, we probably will, and sooner than any of us wants. Some won’t even get close enough to the system to be worn down by it, shut out by the gatekeepers and their own circumstances or doubts. Those who do find passage into the rarified air will struggle forever. There are certainly a few happy warriors in the land of screenwriting, but most every writer I know or meet has a deep inner pain which cannot be quelled by anything. Even writing won’t sate the pain, but it is the least painful option available to us – to put fingers to keyboard, pencil to paper – and get it out of our system, at least for a little while.
4:30 PM. Julie and Brett are gone, and I’m teetering on the edge of not going to a movie. Again. Much as I know I should go sit in the dark, repair this little break in the emotional dam and complete Rule #5 (see a friggin’ movie), there’s a deeper need to channel what I’m feeling right now into something useful. Into writing. Into words.
Most of the words might be crap, but I’m not going to worry about that. I just need the words. They are my friends, my constant companions in my life. Words have never let me down. Even when I am at a loss for them, and search high and low for the right ones, they always come back to me, eventually. Words are forgiving and kind…some make me sound smart, some make me seem stupid, and some are just articles. But they are all mine. My words, there to fill the void and give form to the raging torrent of emotion in my brain.
Julie has just texted me – I MISS YOU ALREADY XOXO. Tearing up again. Fighting it back down. No, maybe I shouldn’t. There, it’s passing. My heart aches.
And of course my mind now drifts off to what could be when I return back to L.A. Of course we all vow to be better about our writing, keeping at it, keeping each other at it, and I don’t doubt that we will all try. How long will our efforts sustain? Hard to tell. For myself, I can only speculate on what my future holds…finish specs with sis. Finish the comic book. Finish my short (or whatever it turns out to be). Then, what to start? A pilot? A feature? Something of my own? And I have the assisting gig coming up this week, and it could last two weeks or two months. But once that gig ends, I’ll need another or a full time job once more.
And I’ll find one. I’ve no doubt in my mind. I’m back on top baby, ready to take on the world. Like getting a mouthful of water to spit out between rounds and maybe fix the gash over my eye, I’m charging back into the ring to take on the heavyweight champ. And I am so. Going. To WIN.
Anyone doubt me? Feel free to place your bets. I know where my money is.
This post was written by Shawna Benson on October 28, 2009