I finally got eviction papers and have to be out by Monday. I have nowhere to go, no one to turn to and little idea where to go from here. So I figured I’d lay my cards on the table and ask you, whoever you are, what you think my next move should be.
I get a bad rap for coming across as a “know-it-all” even though nothing’s further from the truth. I’m more than willing to accept there are plenty of things I don’t know, which is why I do my research. In my last article I discussed and linked to a 1966 research study – not someone else who talked about the study, the actual study itself. (That study was actually more interesting to read than a lot of its modern counterparts.)
The point I’m trying to make is I do my research. I try to take full advantage of the Information Age we live in and have no problem sifting through the wasteland of regurgitated misinformation people perpetrate daily on the internet and in real life conversation. This is why when people parrot standard answers to solutions, like saying the best way to break into the screenwriting industry is to become a PA and cultivate contacts, I tend to challenge and/or brush them aside.
Answers found in the first page of Google’s search results don’t interest me for two reasons.
- I’ve already found and looked into them in-depth.
- When looking for answers to a subjective question, the most common result is usually wrong.
To elaborate using the aforementioned apropos example, yes, there’ve been people who’ve broken into the film and television industry by first becoming a PA and working their way up the ladder. However, the truth of the matter, which most people actually in the industry support, is that there are a million roads in and no guarantees any of them will work.
The PA solution is the one most people try, which subsequently results in a lot of successes. But just because it worked for 5000 out of 5 million doesn’t mean it’s the proper course of action for everyone. A road with 100 successes out of 10,000 attempts has a statistically better rate of efficiency even though it’s less popular to attempt.
“I thought you were going to ask for advice.”
I’m getting to that but, as I do with most of my articles, I wanted to bring up a commonly misunderstand phenomenon of human behavior. I’ve seen people do this all my life – regurgitate the standard answer they’ve been given with little actual thought, fact checking or self-experimentation. What I’ve found is that people as a whole are more often wrong than not – not necessarily entirely so, but incorrect in some capacity.
What I’m asking of you is to examine the facts and think for yourself. If you think the popular answer is in fact correct then explain why in your own words and how you came to such a conclusion. “Because so-and-so told me _______” or “Because I heard ______” is not a valid argument.
It’s overused to death, but not too long ago most people believed the world was flat and many of them were ready to kill and/or institutionalize anyone who said otherwise. Unfortunately that sort of unquestioning mentality still exists today. I’m simply asking you to be cognizant of it.
“Are you going to ask for advice or not, asshole?”
I’m three classes away from my degree but I’m getting evicted this Monday well before financial aid could hope to save my broke ass by next semester. On one hand I’d like to finish my degree, on the other hand I have no interest in using it to do anything within the realm of psychology – largely because anything worth doing with a psychology degree requires a Masters or PhD.
“But when you have a dream it doesn’t often come at you screaming in your face, ‘This is who you are. This is what you must be for the rest of your life.’ Sometimes a dream almost whispers.” – Stephen Spielberg
I’ve been writing my entire life.
I vividly remember writing and drawing comics as a kid – single panel ‘comics’, I was 8 or 9 at the time – and selling them to my mom’s work friends to get 50¢ for a can of soda, which she got incredibly mad about when she found out. That continued in fifth grade when I wrote a Halloween story about Freddy and Jason competing to kill some poor sod as he ran for his life – I barely had a faint idea who those two characters were at the time. In middle school and high school I wrote notebooks full of everything from short stories to chapters of story mashups from some of my favorite video games – most notably a Breath of Fire IV and Final Fantasy IX team-up.
When life started taking a turn for the worse I took those notebooks and burned them in a pile, using a Sunday newspaper as an accelerant because the thin paper easily caught fire. I didn’t write for a while and, as my Aunt would later note, became a pretty angry person.
I’d always written because I was bored. It’s always just felt like the natural thing to do and time flies when you’re busy. I started writing again when I found myself bored to tears working part time at a CVS in South Carolina, and I recently rediscovered the notepad I started back writing with.
Shortly after I began writing again I became a freelance writer. It was nice to write for a living but I was writing about auto parts and venereal diseases for websites to drive traffic with. While it works to pay the bills it’s not what I want to do. If I wanted to do something boring for the rest of my life I would’ve stayed a chemical engineer and just made plastics. I want to create.
So why haven’t I finished a novel yet? Honestly, I don’t think anyone would read it. Less and less people read each year and being a novelist isn’t a viable career path. Even many of the most successful novelists have day jobs, and I’ve been struggling to find a career path worth following for a while.
I’m not sure why I never thought of screenwriting until now. It fits my storytelling style well while being less of a commitment than a full blown novel – not much less but we’re talking 90-120 pages instead of 300-500. It also involves turning something into a visual medium through an industry that isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Sure it may evolve into writing YouTube scripts instead of motion pictures or television shows but the platform shift movies and television series are seeing is only increasing their overall demand.
I’ll stop rambling and get to the point.
While I’d like to finish my degree, I don’t really have a means or hugely motivated drive to stick around here and do so while homeless. I’ve decided to pursue screenwriting, which means it’d behoove me to move to California where the majority of screenwriting jobs exist.
I’m thinking about making my way to LA while continuing to freelance and write scripts with the goal of becoming a screenwriter. Clearly I’d need to also find a normal job to pull myself out of homeless poverty in the meantime, but that’s the ultimate goal. My basic line of thinking is to write a bunch of scripts, at least ten, and then work towards finding an agent while I proceed to write more.
Is following that path insane? Should I shuffle around Florida until I finish my degree first? Even UCF wouldn’t be able to deny my independent status now that I’m 24 so I’m 99% sure I could get enough grants and financial aid to pay for my last semester and probably even meager housing. But that wouldn’t be possible until January/February.
Keep in mind I literally have nowhere and no one to turn to with nothing but my laptop and the clothes on my back. As depressing as that may sound, I feel the lack obligation has lent me a great deal of clarity and a “the only way from here is up” sort of freedom to do whatever the hell feels right.
And so I ask, what would you do?