Broken Down Respectability



Sam: “I had an epiphany last night while I was laboring over my book again. I sat there and I was wondering why I always find all these excuses not to work on my creative projects. I always tell anyone who wants to listen that that’s what I want to do with life. And then, weeks and months go by, and I toil away at a script, at some prose, but, I can’t seem to move forward in a meaningful way. I keep conceptualizing instead of sitting down and hitting the ground running, actually writing these darn things. I seem to prefer keeping them in my head and talking about how I would bring these stories to life.”

Carl: “It’s a lot about consistency. I notice it when I am working on my writings. As soon as I let the momentum deflate, it starts becoming this momentous task, this monster I created that I now have to schlepp around with me. I lose the drive and the enthusiasm, almost, and so I can’t tell you how many skeletal scripts and novels I have in my drawers. It’s like I am great out of the starting block but then mid race my attention is not quite what it was at the outset. I get bored with my own project. I really could use an assistant to keep me on task and teach me time management. It’s all about setting up a routine. But I hate routines. That’s why I don’t have a nine-to-five job. I can’t imagine being caught in the grind like that. I mean, how are you doing it, Vanessa?”

Vanessa: “What do you mean by how do I do it? I just do it. I don’t know. I don’t find that sitting down and writing is such a big thing to overcome. I like writing. I am writing every day so it’s not so much a stretch to then write about something specific or focusing on a particular project. I think setting small goals every week is important to keep on track. It’s important to revisit what you write and see the progress or realize the kinks that are there, the blind spots. The sooner you can see where you’re having trouble the better it is because then you can take the time to educate yourself, read up on shit, or ask someone who has expertise in the field. I don’t like leaving things half finished, but that’s just my nature. But Sam, so you just said that you had an epiphany last night. What was it? Did you come to terms that you are past brilliance and all you’ve got left is write jingles for the local radio station? Just kidding. You know I believe in you.”

Sam: “Yeah right. I know that's what you secretly think of me. Anyway, so, as I was again trying to not do what I set out to do, I started thinking about where I am at in life, and as you know, I keep going back and forth about what I want to do going forward. Like, I know that I want to be active in the creative field. This is where I wish to leave my mark. But look where I am at. At the rate that I am churning out scripts to be filmed, it will take me years before I’ll have any real output, anything I can show for. And in the meantime, I am slaving away at this inconsequential job where I can’t advance. I can’t seem to rub two pennies together for savings. I am just at a standstill it seems, and I am getting older, you know? I am no longer in my 20s. The years, they are creeping up on me. So, this revelation that I had can be summarized in a word. “Respectability”. That’s what I am missing.”

Carl: “I totally get where you’re coming from, Sam. I feel the same way. It’s the idea that you are not feeling proud about where you’re at in life. You feel you should be doing so much more and when you look at others around you, they are actually doing so much more, and then, you wonder if you’ll ever do something noteworthy, something you’re proud of. What if you just continue dabbling creatively but don’t get past script rewrites and attending the occasional workshop? I feel very much the same.  I think I like to believe that I am creative, and so I do the bare minimum that gives me the impression, or better said, the illusion, that I am creatively at work. But has anybody ever really seen my shit? Have any of the small poems I’ve sent in ever gotten any recognition? Journals have not even responded to my submissions. Talk about feeling unmotivated after that.”

Vanessa: “I hear both of you and, yes, who ever said that living the creative life is an easy life? I remember reading the Jack Kerouac biography: “The Voice is All”, and it took him years and years and years to rewrite and reframe “On the Road”. That shit didn’t get made over night. He honed his particular voice over decades. He lived on couches and off his mother and friends. These were very non-glamorous years. Thing is, hardly ever does any artist just make it straight out of college. It’s a rite of passage to feel despondent and on the verge of not wanting to continue any longer. I get that. I don’t know how I do this, to be honest. I guess I’ve been lucky that I found a community early on that supported me and gave me some valuable feedback. Thing is, I see so much potential in both of you. You have the creative vein, you have it. It’s about channeling it properly and believing in yourself. In that sense, Sam, I totally see the importance of the word that got to you yesterday and made you see yourself. Respectability comes first and foremost from within. We can’t convince or show others what we’re made of if we can’t see it ourselves. It’s also accepting that the artist’s life cannot be compared to regular life. There will be different challenges, a different timeline, different manifestations. You may be down and out for a while, making ends barely meet. It’s not for the fainthearted, that’s for sure.”

Sam: “Yeah, exactly. I know that all this comes from me, that I am the one who limits myself. I just don’t feel worthy. I don’t know what to do to get out of the hole because I can’t see why I deserve it. And it’s been going on for years. I am constantly trying to meet some imaginary goal, and when it doesn’t happen I fall into this stupor and it takes a long time before I can gather enough momentum again. I know that I need to stop dipping my teeth into something and then retreat in horror. I need to find a way to immerse myself, to go all out, to be all in. This epiphany showed me that I really don't have the luxury to make excuses any longer.”

Carl: “Yeah, I always say that I am dual in all that I do. I am always on the cusp, on the verge, and then I find myself sitting at a junction where I see things vanish in various direction, but I can’t seem to make the choice. It’s like once I make it, I will lose options. But the way I’ve been living, well,  surviving is the better word, I am not allowing myself any options. It’s worse than having to make a choice. It’s this making no choice that is tragic. It’s hiding behind things. It’s not facing the creative community, not working and honing my craft. It’s giving excuses, that’s what it is.”

Sam: “Exactly. That’s exactly what I feel. It’s enough. No more thoughts of joining the police corps or going to law school. I know that I want to be creative. It’s my life and I need to live it entirely. I can’t be toying around with other options any longer. Since I know that this makes me feel alive, to sound corny, then I need to show myself some respectability. That’s it.”