On The Importance of Just Doin’ You

I am currently co-writing two web series.

My friend and I are co-creating a web series based on our lives and friendship. We begin production in October, with the release date of the first episode sometime in late January. We have written nine out of ten episodes of the first season. Even though we haven’t started shooting yet—and how something translates from page to film is a huge jump—I have never been so proud of a project. 

Yes, it can be frustrating and overwhelming at times. But when we are volleying ideas and jokes back and forth, when we are writing and revising our scripts… There’s nothing like it. I often leave our writing sessions thinking, “I could do this for the rest of my life.” I know I am lucky to have found something that I love doing so much. I know that I am lucky that I happen to be somewhat talented at doing this thing. I am hoping that this project opens doors for us, that it leads to more opportunities. Let’s be honest, I’m hoping that this project leads to us getting paid those beaucoup bucks.

I also know that there are millions of people trying to cash in on new media. Everyone has an idea. Everyone is hoping their idea is the next big, bright one to launch them into fame and fancy dinners and fat paychecks. I will remain faithful, but I will not hold my breath. All we can do is love our little baby to death. All we can do is work hard, stay true to our vision, and make sure we produce a final product that we are proud to claim. The rest will happen as it’s meant to…

I was invited to co-write the other web series I am working on. The creator read one of my earlier For Harriet pieces and reached out to me about possibly guest writing an episode of her series. The timing didn’t work out, but then she hit me up about a month ago about guest writing an episode for the new season. The stars aligned, everything worked out, and we’re almost done with the first episode. I needed this. Because it’s easier to write someone you know, who you’re close with and share ready similarities with. But writing with someone with a different style is more challenging. Especially if the project is an existing one.

It’s proving to me that (a) I can do this; and (b) I can do it under a number of varying circumstances. And at some point, that’s what all writers need. I have doubted my writing ability for a while now, wondering why I’m not a better poet… or why my work isn’t as celebrated as some of my friends’ writing. Yes, it is petty. But I honestly believe all writers are hella self-conscious and hella petty. At least I own my shit. When I was in school, it was easy to gain praise. I wrote a paper and my professors and classmates complimented me. I received good grades. I was in a bubble. I was used to receiving positive feedback. 

Then I graduated. I got a full-time job. I started a grassroots organization. Not only did I have to carve time out of my day to be creative, but there wasn’t a readily available audience to provide accolades and affirmation. I moved away from the artistic communities I had been a part of. I got wrapped up in my own fears and self-doubts. My writing suffered. My ideas of what I could do as a writer were limited. I have spent the past year and a half trying to climb out of this self-pitying ditch. I am re-learning what “good writing” is. I am reevaluating what matters to me as a writer, what I hope to accomplish within my own writing process.

Yesterday, my mother and I were throwing shade at certain unnamed family members. And she mentioned how sometimes, it upsets her that people do not acknowledge what good kids my brother and I are. She mentioned how they ask questions about “what I’m doing with my life,” as I still live at home and it doesn’t seem like I’m moving out anytime soon. I wasn’t surprised. I’ve always known a large part of my family thinks I’m weird. I have also known that I have different goals for myself than the people in my family do. We have different values, different priorities and perspectives. I’m OK with this. 

Growing up has been hard. Some people mature with finesse. I’ve emerged into my adulthood clumsily. I have had to learn and re-learn hard lessons. I have had to be honest with myself about my shortcomings. I have had to accept that I have no chill. I’m a hot mess. But I have grown. And I’m still growing. I am still building myself. I am not ashamed to be a work in progress. And I think that’s what sets me apart from some of the people in my family. I’m not interested in pretending to be anything or anyone other than who I am. 

I am doing me.

And yesterday, my mom told me that when my nosy-ass family members inquire about the choices I’m making, she always responds: “My children are doing them. And that’s all you need to know.” And for a moment, I was grateful that my mother is my mother. I mean, I am always grateful that my mother is my mother. But we have a difficult relationship sometimes. She doesn’t always understand me. And I’m not as patient or compassionate with her as I should be. But the truth is, my mother (and my father) have always let me “do me.” When I wanted to go to school at NYU, she didn’t like it… but she let me go. When I spent most of my time there depressed and homesick (but also in love with New York in a weird, magical sort of way), she never said, “I told you so.” She stayed up late on the phone with me and sent me money and reminded me that she loved me. When I took on too much the year I moved back home, she told me I needed to be more self-serving with my time… but she let me work myself crazy. 

And even now, as I am unemployed and not quite sure of my path, she hasn’t cussed me out (yet). I think she finally understands that (a) I am grown enough to make my decisions; (b) I have to build a life that’s right for me; and (c) I will be OK. My choice to pursue a more artistic path scares her, but she accepts it. Reluctantly. But still…

And so, even though I’m not currently making any money… I know I’m on the right path. I know that I was meant to be a writer this whole time. I know that all of this angst and all of these blog posts no one ever reads will amount to something. One day. Hopefully, sooner than later. I know that I cannot judge myself against other people’s successes. I may live at home. I may be unemployed. I may be single. I may be fat. I may be a little crazy, depending on a variety of factors. But I am doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m where I need to be.

And that’s all you need to know.

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