Mine is not a necessary voice. By every measure imaginable, the experiences of my ilk are overdocumented and overrepresented in every medium, dating back to prehistoric times. I hasten to admit, without shame or hesitation, that one can safely skip every opinion I’ve ever expressed, every thought I’ve ever conceived, every word I’ve ever typed, without the slightest fear that one’s life might thereby be an iota the poorer.
There may be those who might profess to the contrary, that hey, that Donald’s an okay guy, he’s Not Entirely Full of Shit, every now and then he points out something cogent, he has occasionally been known to reminisce on something relevant, he’s not a troll, he’s frequently one of the good 'uns, and even his Space Lizard alter egos are sometimes mildly amusing. Those people, the ones who might profess to that particular contrary, those people actually are Entirely Full of Shit.
Nah. Just kidding. I have some excellent friends here, though they may not always be the finest judges of character.
Fair warning: I’m gonna blather for a while, so if you have absolutely anything better to do with your time (and you do, believe me, even if you’ve been so unwise as to show up at the DMV at 9:30 AM on a Monday with neither an appointment nor so much as a Louis L’Amour paperback, you could always be practicing your Kegels and spinning pens twixt your fingers like you’re Tommy Lee on the Theatre of Pain tour), then I suggest you do it; you won’t miss anything vital or even particularly useful. I’ll try not to be too boring, but all I can do is try.
I’m in a pickle. For over thirty years I’ve wanted to be a writer, and for most of those years I actually did manage to write something. But I never got paid for it (the fat dollar that a friend of mine paid for the rights to a short film script I wrote in 2000 counts, technically, but not enough to go back and change that sentence; my time is far too valuable at my age), and instead I’ve spent most of the past 29 years working in various other aspects of the film and TV biz, most of the last 20 years in TV post production. It was okay, it mostly paid the bills, but not as well as if I’d become a plumber.
The goal was to make a living at my day job, and write during my spare time. But I rarely had actual spare time, and when I did, I found I lacked discipline and inspiration. A couple years back, during an uncomfortably long period of unemployment, some friends invited me to collaborate with them on a horror anthology TV series project, and suddenly I found both inspiration and the discipline to do something with it. I wrote two scripts for the show (one by myself, one as a collaboration) with a third on the way, and we pitched it to a few studios, so far with no success. Last year we all focused on our day jobs.
My most recent day job ended in August, and I’ve been out of work since then. After the New Year, I did get hired on a sitcom pilot for NBC/Universal, which was a huge relief… but that job was scheduled to start on March 16, and inevitably got indefinitely postponed due to the coronavirus. It’s almost like the universe is determined to force me to write, for lack of absolutely anything else to do. I’d welcome that… except I’ve been pretty thoroughly writer’s-blocked for six months now. And also, now we’re not sure our horror anthology will be a proper fit for the post-Covid19 world.
It was a really, really good idea, too. Someday I’ll describe it at length for you folks, but it was something I really wanted to get made mostly because it was something I really wanted to see, and I don’t think anything quite like it’s been done before.
But anyway. Part of my pickle is that I’ve made my professional reputation in TV post production, and it’s really all I’m qualified to do (except for writing, and pipe down with your smart comments back there). I started working on movies after three years at a community college, and I don’t possess a degree of any kind, not even an associate’s degree, so I can’t just hop into grad school and come out 2 or 3 years later with a different career, like my wife and several of my friends did. I’m either stuck doing post (and getting these uncomfortably long dry spells between freelance gigs if these past few years are any indication), or I sell a screenplay, or I give up and take some entry level position as, I dunno, a Wal*mart greeter or similar nightmare. It’s bad. If I had proper life insurance, I’d probably use it.
But I don’t, so here I am. For all my whinging, I’m still privileged out the wazoo. If I were clever enough, I could think of some smart hustle or creative endeavor that would justify my existence. If I used to be that clever, I’m not anymore. People have asked me (not recently, but at some point a while back) why I don’t just write more. Journaling, blogging, short story writing, whatever. I have no good answer. Back at The Old Place, Weisberger asked me a couple of times if I wanted to write a guest post or two for $, and though I was flattered, I couldn’t think of anything to write that would justify it, and I told him so. It’s kind of the same reason I never joined Twitter. I don’t often have anything to say, and I’m too self-effacing to believe anything I did say could garner a following.
That hasn’t changed. But what has changed is that I feel like my blockage is the result of stasis and stagnation. I was smart in high school, but my mind hasn’t been challenged by new and interesting experiences since high school. I’ve felt I had nothing valuable to add to the conversation because I really didn’t have any new insights to offer, in large part due to lack of experience rather than lack of capacity to analyze and understand.
That doesn’t change the fact that there are a whole lot of voices out there that are smarter or funnier or more entertaining or more enlightening than mine. There are also a lot of voices that are newer, fresher, less overrepresented, and more vital than mine. Lots of people fit into both categories.
So why should I trot out another unnecessary voice of old, white, straight, abled, male, USian mediocrity?
Well, maybe I shouldn’t. At this point, I’ve resisted the (not at all urgent) urge for most of my adult life, and that’s been okay for everyone. But now I have a plan. I have been told by disinterested parties that I can write (nobody accused me of being any threat to Tom Stoppard’s career, it’s true, but at the very least I’m a trophy-possessing honest-to-God Good Speller), so I’m gonna do that, and in order to have something to write about, I’m going to try to experience something brand new to me every week, and write about that. Sometimes it’ll be something small, like today: Write a Blog Post. Maybe someday I’ll get around to a larger experience, like Help Build a House, or maybe some travel might happen. I’ll do my best to avoid co-opting the lives and experiences of others and exploiting them for my own gain and growth. I don’t see any profit coming from this other than some typing practice, some honing of whatever narrative talent I might possess, and a fairly desperate lunge at keeping my brain from degrading further into mush, but if I can help anyone else thereby, that would be a welcome bonus. Maybe some of my fellow aging white dudes can get something useful out of this attempt to force my world open wider, looking at things from new angles, trying things I’d previously avoided or never heard of. And maybe some nonwhite nondudes of different ages might get a chuckle out of watching this broke-down GenX dipshit make a fool of himself. Although they’re probably sick unto death of such spectacles by now.
I will try to approach this project with an appropriate degree of humility and good humor. I know you have lots of better things to do with your eyeballs and your woefully short time on the skin of this world. If you hang out with me on this venture, whether it lasts for a hundred posts or just this one, I promise to do my best to make that time entertainingly spent.
If I’ve failed at that so far, well, you know what to expect going forward.
From the garage I’ve just named after my dog,