Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Becoming Desperate

Me and My Younger Kids in Capital Reef
I just got back from a trip to southern Utah and Capital Reef National Park (thank you, Utah, for reopening your national parks during the government shutdown!). I drove down with my brother, a film student, and we had a long chat about artists striving for big breaks in their careers and how they often lose who they are in a desperate attempt to reach their dreams. I've seen it happen with actors, as well as with writers, and my brother's seen it happen with those trying to break into the film industry.

Making a living as an artist is HARD. I know this. My husband's an actor, and my dad is also a writer. (Speaking of actor husbands and writer wives, check out my friend Michelle Argyle's post about that today.) And trying to become published, get an amazing paid acting role, or a directing gig means HARD WORK and sometimes long hours, days, months, and years without getting a nickel. You do feel desperate at times, but I think it's important not to become desperate. Because desperate people become blinded by that one thing they want, no matter the cost.

They conform to trends, rather than writing the stories their hearts dictate, the stories they wanted to write in the beginning. Their most important relationships fall apart as they work to climb social ladders that will lead them to "better places." Their lives become completely out of balance until it's all or nothing. If they don't get X and X, they are failures.

Desperation is an easy trap to fall into, and for me, the best way to battle against it is to remind myself that there isn't one formula for success. I should have dreams, I should fight for them, but there are other options and back-up plans. If the most amazing editor reads my story and rejects it, the road doesn't dead end there. Other stories are waiting to be written or reworked, other editors can be a better fit. We do have to be open-minded, flexible, willing to revise, revamp, and reimagine. But I like to remember that girl who set out on this journey a few years ago and remind myself of what she wanted, what stories she set out to tell, and why she wanted to tell them. I'm determined not to become anyone else to make a break in this business. I want to be myself and pave my own way, even if it's the road less traveled, or a road no one has traveled at all. My dreams shouldn't be achieved at the cost of selling myself.

This is one blog post I hesitated to write because I don't want to sound self-righteous or condescending. I do have strong opinions on the matter, though, and if anything I write this as a warning to myself, to not lose sight of what's most important in my life. And as much as I love writing and my stories, what I hold most dear is so much bigger and more precious than that. They're standing with me in the picture above. They are my best dream.