by David Perlis
This blog was never supposed to be about screenwriting.
Well, maybe a bit. Because I write screenplays. But when I first created davidperlis.com, my goal was to write wandering David Perlis thoughts, and post David Perlis photos, and talk about David Perlis art and ideas and experiences.
Instead, it somehow turned into a full-force commentary on dramatic structure in screenplays. And I think that explains to a great extent my anxieties and self-doubt and overall directionless feeling these days. By the way, I’ve been filled with anxiety and self-doubt and directionless these days.
Somewhere along the way, I decided I was going to be a screenwriter. Beyond that, I started defining myself as a screenwriter. What do you do? I’m a screenwriter. What do you do for fun? I write screenplays. Wanna go to a concert this weekend? Can’t, working on a screenplay. This blog seems to be pretty good evidence of how singly I started viewing myself.
So it’s no wonder I’m feeling lost and down all the time. I’ve defined myself as something that has hardly panned out at all. No work. No pay. No WGA card. I don’t really understand dramatic structure (I don’t believe anyone who says they do), and what’s more—my enthusiasm for writing has waned considerably! I mean, I love it yes, but these days I’m far more likely to stress over a scene doesn’t work than celebrate those that do. And if these things have just become a symbol of myself, then it’s no goddamn wonder that I’m in such a rickety place.
I’ll be thirty in a few months. The twenties are a great time to explore paths and opportunities and fail…but thirty! Those who are older than I are sure to say, “Pah! You never stop learning or failing or trying new paths!” Thanks guys. But I’d still like to get some stuff figured out. Lemme tell ya, when you leave a comfortable job with wonderful people making decent money with benefits to move to Los Angeles and live out of your car eating green beans from a can for six months, you kinda question if you made the good choice.
I wonder if this whole idea of defining yourself by your job is an “American” thing. Isn’t there some old saying about American’s live to work, and everyone else works to live? Is that the problem? Anyway, I’m going to stop saying I’m a screenwriter, because the first person I need to convince is myself. That’s a literal statement. I have convinced myself I’m on a track that is my only track. I’m going to start with this blog. I’m going to post my nightly musings, and talk about my swing dance classes, and rage against the political madness going on right now. I’ll post essays and paintings, and I’ll remind myself that I like doing lots of things.
I’m not going to stop screenwriting—in fact, as soon as I hit publish on this post, I’m going to open up Final Draft and work on another project that I’ve got cooking. But it’s got to be for me. Even as I write this, I know I haven’t convinced myself of a word I’ve said, but it will be here, just a click away, for me to come back to and read if I need a reminder. Maybe you all need reminders, too.
I’m going to hit publish now. I haven’t looked back over this posting at all to revise or edit. That makes me cringe. But it’s time to let go and get on with things. So let’s get on with it.
David Perlis is a screenwriter and former People’s Pilot Finalist doing his best to break into the even Bigger Time. This post first appeared on his very helpful blog.