[IN THE TRENCHES] The End of the Road

The End of the Road
Fading out?

Writing is hard. Making a living writing, is almost impossible.

So, have you imagined a time when you’d stop? Stop writing. Stop trying to get discovered. Stop trying to get hired, produced, or published.

Have you imagined a scenario where you’d actually move on?

Some people even start their pursuit with a potential end in mind. “If I haven’t sold something by 40, I’m calling it quits!”

Is it 40 for you? 50? 60?

The entertainment industry is rough. Crazy competitive. Even if you’re an amazing writer, it still doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to find a place and thrive. It helps, of course, but it’s no guarantee.

When I first graduated from film school, I moved across the country to L.A. to try and make it in the biz as a screenwriter. A lot of fellow alumni did the same.

Surrender Dorothy
Sadly, the industry is more Wicked Witch than Glinda.

A lot of them didn’t last.

Some left after only a few years. Some took a decade or so before switching careers. One of my friends came for a couple of years, then left, then came back again, and then finally left for good.

My understanding is that he’s currently living a happy life in the Pacific Northwest, far away from the madness. Good for him.

It’s hard to keep going when you’re not getting the response you’re looking for. Even if you’ve been a working screenwriter for years, sometimes things slow to a standstill. Contacts retire, story editors have more writers than they have assignments, burnout sets in.

You can really being to wonder.

Am I done? Is this the end? Do I actually want this to be the end?

Obviously it’s a personal choice. There’s no right or wrong way to chart your course.

So, if you think that going back to school to become a therapist, or getting your real estate license, or opening a coffee shop is the way to go… Then that’s the way to go.

Never give up. Never surrender.
Never give up. Unless you want to, of course. Do you.

We only get one life (as I understand things so far). Do what works. What pays the bills. Ideally, what makes you happy.

So if that means continuing to channel your creativity into words, and stories, and scripts, despite a current lack of “success,” then age and bank accounts be damned.

Toni Morrison was 40 when she had her first novel published. Courtney Hunt‘s screenwriting debut earned her an Oscar nomination at 44. Angela’s Ashes was published when Frank McCourt was 66.

Not that these are common scenarios, of course, but it’s proof of what can be done at almost any age.

Ultimately we should all do what’s best for us.

For me, I don’t think I’ll ever be done trying to make things happen with my writing. I’m proud of what I’ve done so far, but I’m also still excited for all the things I’m going to do. As long as I’m living, I think I’ll continue striving to do more, better, bigger.

At least until I don’t.

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4 Responses to [IN THE TRENCHES] The End of the Road

  1. Brian says:

    Keep writing.

  2. Keep writing. Do it every day.
    Your post is a well thought out and sobering perspective on the conversation all of us have to hold with ourselves as artists. We may be in a challenged industry (entertainment, media) that chews many of us up and spits us out, but money just makes life easier; it doesn’t make it worthwhile.
    Keep writing. Do it every day.

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