Before I moved to the East Coast, I spent two or three years writing screenplays. They usually involved aliens, time travel and people who live together but would rather not (but still do).
As you can imagine, I have yet to sell or produce any of these screenplays. I’m not yet a member of the Screenwriter’s Guild, I can’t point to my name on a scrolling list of film credits, and I’ve never rewritten a scene to please an actor’s ego. I have, however, collected 4,308.65 rejection letters from agents, producers, and directors, or more accurately, rejection letters from the flunkies of agents, producers and directors.
I’ve never even been to LA.
Toward the end of my stint as a wannabe screenwriter, before my depression found its shadowed floor and I resorted to re-writing an old novel and turning out scripts for my brother’s comics, I became mystical. It wasn’t the first day, nor will it be the last, when I turned my spiritual eyes to heaven and asked, “Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing?”
I wanted a sign that my compulsion would lead somewhere. My compulsion included generating reams of notecards, pages of type, and notebook after notebook of ideas for films. Reading book after book about screenwriting. Lazing away whole mornings imagining love affairs with actors and principled confrontations with directors who wanted to bastardize my script. Putting my social and financial life on indefinite hold while I mailed synopses by the dozens, collected Xeroxed “Thank you, but…” letters, and started all over again.
I wanted a sign that I wasn’t wasting my time or missing a vocation far more productive or successful.
I wanted to know that, despite the loneliness and lack of self-respect I felt living in my parents’ house in a strip-mall filled burg in Oregon, someday someone with money and influence would read one of my stories and say, “Get me Sandra Bullock- I’ve found her next movie!”
In hindsight I know that it was irrational and irrelevant to want a sign to justify actions I was voluntarily taking. But, nevertheless, I wanted it.
I know the concepts of fate and synchronicity are fanciful and unproven. I know throwing a woman into the lake to see if she floats does not actually prove her witchiness. But, I also know that when I needed a job in Manhattan two springs ago, I found myself with three interviews on one day within a three-block radius of each other. I know it can happen.
I was casting those spiritual eyes to heaven tonight and, as always, getting the distinct feeling the universe could care less if I write grocery lists or epic novels. But, for the first, wondrous time, I don’t care. I don’t care if I could turn my energies more productively or successfully to anything else. I don’t care if I never sell one blessed word.
The signs may point east. I’m walking west.