Coming Together & Falling Apart

I haven’t posted on my own blog in over three weeks. That’s triflin’ and I apologize to the three people who read it. Every week, I start a new damn blog post and then I never finish it. It’s funny — now that I’m like, actually about the life of being a “professional” writer, I feel like I have very little time to write.

In the past few weeks, I have just been trying to hold my shit together as best as I possibly can. And so far, I’m doing OK. At this time last year, I was in the midst of deep depression and simultaneously preparing for a two-week trip to Italy and France. (Yes, the latter made helped a great amount with my depression.) It’s crazy to think how much of a difference 12 months make. Now, I’ve started a new job. I am applying to graduate programs in screenwriting. I’m co-producing a web series. And I’m trying to look for as many money-making freelance writing opportunities as possible. Oh, and I’m also back in therapy, trying to also get a handle on all my emotional/spiritual baggage.

The past few weeks have been beautiful, in that incredibly humbling and exhausting way. I am appreciative that I had an entire year to be lazy and selfish and depressed and basically lost in my own shit-storm. At the risk of sounding like a total hippie, I think it allowed me to build up a spiritual energy reserve. These days, I’m doing a lot. I’m working a lot, but I’m not nearly as exhausted as I would normally be. My sleep schedule has changed drastically, though. My new schedule currently looks like this: sleep from 2:00am to 6:30am (if that), get work done from 6:30am through 11am, do some necessary shit like eat or shower or go to the bank from 11am to 1pm, take a nap in the afternoon, and then work from 10pm to 2am. It’s chaotic and not at all sustainable, but it’s working for now.

It is just nice to feel excited about things again, because I spent nearly an entire year not being excited about much of anything. Resigned to apathy and general malaise is no way to live. But these days, I have lots and lots to be excited about.

I am in full-swing production mode for the web series I co-created, GIRL, GET YO’ LIFE!. We’re halfway through the process, and I’ve learned so much about myself, screenwriting, and film. More than anything, this experienced has confirmed that I do want to continue writing for the screen. I’ve flip-flopped for years now on whether or not I wanted to pursue a career in screenwriting. I just feel like I don’t have the “personality” to survive in the entertainment industry. But co-writing and co-producing this show has proved to me otherwise. I may not have the disposition or “chops” required to pursue acting. But I low-key believe I was born to write stories for other people to embody and portray.

On Friday, we shot half of the scenes for my favorite episode of the season, which satirizes what it’s like to go to an open mic. Beside the fact that the episode is just fucking hilarious, I think I enjoy it so much because it is the most collaborative episode. K. and I co-wrote it with an incredibly talented poet friend of ours. We recruited one of our homegirls—who happens to be a phenomenal writer/producer/director/performer herself—to guest direct and she knocked it out of the fucking park. And we recruited a bunch of our poet friends to portray the caricatures of stereotypical poets. It’s been a long time since I was so blown away by how talented and smart and entertaining my friends are. They delivered! But especially, to see good friends and talented performers bringing our characters and story to life? I just… I have no words, but if I did, they’d all be good ones.

In all of this floating on Cloud Nine, we have still faced challenges. The biggest challenge for me has been realizing how little I know about film production. And I think this is why I’ve hesitated with pursuing this path for so long. It’s a weird thing to be both “the boss” and “the novice” on set. Yes, I took a year of production in high school. And yes, I have a theatre background. But it has been years since I was involved in anyone’s full-length, traditional production. All of those dramatic muscles have atrophied, and all of that cinematic knowledge is ghost by now. And besides, doing this thing as a 25-year-old with a legitimate production and cast and crew is a whole different beast.

I have learned that in addition to acting, I also have no interest or passion for directing. For so long, I have wanted to be all things. But as I get older, I become more and more OK with staying in my lane. My lane is writing, producing, and coordinating. I’m not an actress. I’m not a director. I’m not a tech person. I like writing the script, so people can have a map to follow as they tell a good story and create what I hope will be entertaining, meaningful art. I like producing, so I can have final creative say-so. But by now, I realize I have no business playing anyone’s role… unless it’s a cameo or a spoof. And I ain’t got no type of vision or perspective when it comes to scene composition and how things read on camera.

In addition to all the lovely GGYL crazy-sexy-coolness, I started a new job in October. I went from writing for a popular Black women’s blog, to being the editorial assistant for a popular Black women’s blog. Whoa! I have learned—and am continuing to learn—so much in just the last month alone. Spending all of your time on the Internet is very different than working for the Internet, I’ve discovered. Like, drastically. And writing for the Internet is also very different than editing and curating content for the Internet. Again, like, drastically. As a writer, I am usually only ever presenting my own work, which represents my opinions, beliefs, and experiences. But when editing, it’s not just about me. It’s about the writer, the site/brand, and the readers. The stakes are high, and the margin for fuck-up-ability is narrow. I spend a lot of time anxious. I spend a lot of time puzzled by the way online readers react and interact with pieces. It’s both fascinating and terrifying at the same time.

But I welcome the anxiety and the terror, because the payoff is so much more rewarding than I could’ve imagined. I love my job, even if I feel like a fetus in this big new world online media and editorial. I spent all of last year trying to transition from non-profit youth development work, into online entertainment and media work. Y’all, I prayed so hard. And this July, when I was unemployed and sending out applications with no returned interest, I was doubting myself. Hard. But you know what they say about how God works… And whenever I tell folks about my new job, they’re like, “Oh, that’s perfect for you.” And that feels good, because I feel the same way.

I just keep saying it over and over again: I feel like I’m finally doing the things I’m supposed to be doing, and working towards the place where I ultimately want to be. I have the Internet. I have writing. I get to be involved in the creative process 24/7 these days. And only about 15% of the time does it actually feel creative. It mostly just feels like a lot of administrative tasks and organizing of information.

But man, it still feels good.

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