I don’t particularly consider myself a modern woman-- not by the post-millenial, Sex and the City standards anyway. I think it’s quite obvious by all of the stories I have shared thus far that I have been somewhat stunted emotionally by some not-so realistic examples and therefore left wishing for a different, perhaps earlier, time in which to be living and working. So being somewhat of a self-proclaimed “old soul,” I never thought I would find myself connecting with, let alone quoting, Candace Bushnell. But yet after one particular late morning-turned late evening trip to the beach, where I almost ashamedly picked up “One Fifth” to tide me over while faced with the throes of the happy-Frisbee-throwing families that surrounded me, I found myself nodding in unison with a lot of her points, and I began to consider the book, or at least a specific part of the book, my sixth sign in almost as many days that I had to get off my ass and really make something happen for myself—to change the life I lead and make it the one which I want to lead.
“Pay him a decent salary and work him hard. That way he won’t have enough time to write anything on the side. But don’t pay him so much that he can save up money and quit. Give him insurance and benefits. Turn him into a corporate drone, and you’ll never have to worry about him again,” Bushnell writes, as one character bemoans to another that she can’t seem to get a certain gossip blogger off her back. The woman wants a way to get him off her case and out of her personal business, and the other woman’s advice is to simply hire him and bribe him with all of the comforts that writers usually don’t come by. It is a subtle way to slowly suck the life out of someone who prides his or herself on being an artist.
But the thing is: that should only work with someone who is not a true artist but instead is just looking to get rich and famous and feel validated by complete and total strangers. And that someone is not me.
A friend and the wisest woman I know (who just happens to be an actor—go figure) once said something that, during a particularly arduous time right after I graduated from college and was having trouble finding a job, I hung, post-card sized, in the shadowbox next to my kitchen with the hope that seeing it every morning would make it easily translate into my mantra: “If you’re just doing it for the money, don’t do it; it’s not going to make you happy.” It’s something I have strove to breathe in and out everyday as my own personal affirmation. Life is just too short to deal with @$holes who don’t pay you, and even they have limits! Who needs to spend hundreds of dollars an hour on a shrink when you have classics like that at your beck and call?? I subscribe to the Samantha Spade (from Without A Trace) “friendship is like therapy for poor people” way of thinking in my own life anyway!
This same friend and I have had lengthy conversations on the differences between art and business in our shared industry, and she is always quick to point out that there is a very great gap between wanting to do what we do because we love it and wanting to just become famous. So many (ourselves admittedly included) move out to Los Angeles with Stars in their Eyes, seeking the validation fame will bring-- validation that we probably wouldn’t need if we had gotten it as a child. It is easy to get sucked up into the glitzy, glamorous world that is Los Angeles, then; after all, this town makes its name and its money on those smoke and mirror acts.
I admit that for awhile, I got sucked up in it, too, focusing on the celebrities I was meeting, interviewing, and working with, and it has been slow to get back on the right track and focused on what I really want-- and need-- to be doing. But I'm getting there, little by little, making some sacrifices along the way to make up for the time I have wasted in between. And one such sacrifice is coming into play now: in an effort to write the last hundred pages of my latest novel by the end of the week so I have a solid draft to give to said friend before she leaves on a business trip, during which she will have ample time on the plane to make notes and edits, I am forgoing this blog for the next five or so days. It may sound like a crazy plan, but if I want to start seeing some big checks from my writing by the end of the year, I feel like this is something I have to do.