We Are Up All Night

The only thing I am moved to write about these days is the perplexing limbo of post-graduate life. I'm not wild about the retread either, but do you know what happens if I don't write about it? I listen to slow music and lie down and just think about it for hours. I can't afford to lose that kind of productivity to pent up preoccupation. I'm trying to revamp myself here.

I am trying to map out a path through the rest of my life and they all seem more daunting and unlikely with each second. Some of them even have deadlines. I know I want to write, because I don't want to sell you fax machines for a living, but I don't know what type of equally unsuccessful field I should pursue. In terms of recent developments, I have an alphanumeric filing test tomorrow to qualify for an interview at a decent paying office job, and I have just come off my first stint as a PA on a student film, which I will have to write about at length sometime later. The short version is this: Being a PA is rough, rough work and full of long hours that I could only handle if I was getting paid, which I wasn't. I had second thoughts.

Then, Los Angeles Magazine just so happened to run an article this month about the trend of 40-year-old assistants in Hollywood never climbing up the ladder to staff writer because they have been at it too long, but they all suckle on the teat of hope that bears just enough milk to keep them going. It is a depressing look at what happens to dreams and dreamers, and makes the aspiring writer want to save themselves the heartache. We have a faint view of the summit and those who spend their lives circling it. I had third thoughts.

I considered other alternatives, like becoming a Director's Assistant. I was looking at the Director's Guild of America training program to get in on that DA path, a more management approach to working in the business, and the application broke what little spirit I had after that article. At first I was worried that they would call my references and the DA on the short film would tell them how offensively bad I was at my job for giving a call sheet to a stranger. Then I did a little more research and apparently only 1% of applicants get accepted every year; and those that do get in have to sacrifice their lives for two years in exchange for this privilege. I had, somehow, fourth thoughts.

There's always grad school, kind of, although it is going to be harder and harder to get those letters of recommendation as the days go by. I want to be a better writer before trying again, at least get published in something more than a tiny niche journal. I could theoretically put off applications until next year while I develop my craft of writing but, and I hate to say it, one of my letter writers is quite old and my paranoid, neurotic, self-centered mind is worried he might not be up to it in the future. He's already a year into retirement. I don't know if he's going to be willing to, or even physically capable of, getting me a letter in a year. Am I being ageist? I hope so, because I want him to be well.

Otherwise, I could settle for my own mediocrity and accept fate as an electrician, or an administrative assistant, or whatever the craigslist tides wash my way. It is said that our generation is cursed with an unrealistic sense of ambition and exceptionalism. I've certainly displayed it on this blog a few times. The urge to be great, and the message that we can be great if we tried hard enough, is powerful among a large swath of us. Maybe it's time I fall in line with the rest of the awakened dreamers, in that shady spot underneath the boot heel of reality.

This is the annoying neurotic frustration of being post-graduate and no real prospects on the horizon. The future is looming large, and you can only fidget and worry while it closes in. Let me be clear: My annoyance and frustration is with myself. I really don't like the guy that is typing out all this prissy, undecided, spineless shit. It's not me; or at least, it's not the me I want to be.

The game board is set up thusly: Breaking into the entertainment industry is improbable and laborious. Getting into fiction is unlikely and fruitless. Settling on any old job that pays decent is demoralizing to the sense of destiny I have built up for myself. There is no easy mode, and so I do nothing but type it out, and as a result I defeat myself before I even lift a finger to try.

I know that only 1% of DGA training applicants get accepted into the program. I know that the creative writing graduate school programs I want to go to accept a handful out of hundreds, and I know that even fewer make money as professional fiction writers. I know that networking your way into and up the Hollywood ladder is where many have tried and most have failed.

I am trying to break into worlds for elites, and every one of those worlds needs a pile of failures to remind everyone just how exclusive it is. I know that I just may be another body on the pile.

I know all of this, and yet, I still want to believe that I can rise above it. I still want to entertain these far off fantasies of getting to do exactly what I want to do, with the talent that I want to possess. I can either accept my universal mediocrity or I can take that and become great at something. I can give up before trying, or I can become exceptional and lower the odds. Even though it is almost a given that it will end badly, what else can I do? That arrogant curse of ambition is still haunting my bones, and I think it would rather have me fall hard than softly drift along to nowhere of meaning.