Midlife Folly, Midlife Renewal
You are a true ham-and-egger--the kind of writer I wrote about in an essay for Poets & Writers several years back:
I think moving to Pasadena was a good choice--you had to try it! And it doesn't seem like there's any answer to achieving readership/book/film sales. Writing is definitely a vocation that requires you not to look for external validation. I think you're doing great, and you've helped a lot of people along the way.
After 50 years devoted to creative writing and film and suchlike stuff, I truly believe that measuring "success" by external markers like which publisher you had to how many tickets you sold or how much money you made is suicidally missing the point of art and life. I keep thinking about the bestselling novelist of 1913 and the big hit opera of 1851...who the hell knows or cares? Or the big-budget movies every year that don't work. Or the TV series no on watches. People work so hard on them (or hate doing them, for that check...) And even Shakespeare and Joyce and Hemingway: how relevant are they now, really? Not to say they're not great, just: who the hell made this a test?! Who made it a competition?! Do things you think are good. Show 'em to however many people will look at them. Repeat. That's all any artist can do, and I think it's so great you've done it and keep doing it.
Smart and funny memoir--and in light of the ongoing writers strike, your conversation with the grizzled Hollywood veteran really hits home.
Thank you for this.
Christine, thank you for sharing your personal journey and aspirations in the film industry. Your courageous decision to move to Pasadena, California from the Midwest to pursue your dream is inspiring. The move can be challenging both physically and financially, but sometimes taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary to pursue your passions.
I appreciate your honesty about the realities of breaking into the industry and the difficulties many writers face. It is true that success in Hollywood often requires a combination of connections, perseverance, and luck. It is a competitive and unpredictable field, and the road to recognition and production can be full of ups and downs.
Wow. My dream is to move to California and write feature movies. I’m a few years older than you, a woman, so I guess that makes it as likely as getting hired to write on Mars. I’ve written short form humor for a while and during the pandemic I took online screenwriting classes. I fell in love with the form. I finally had a script I felt was good enough to enter into contests just this year. Like you, I spent a ton of money on entry fees. I’ve gotten some positive outcomes so far, but the major contests like Nicholls don’t announce finalists until later on in the year.
Perhaps I can write screenplays from my home in Pennsylvania. But I’ve lived on the same suburban cul-de-sac for 25 years and some days I feel desperate for a change.
I can’t decide if I should take your essay as a warning or encouragement. But I have to think anytime we go after our dream, it's never a mistake.
You made it happen! That is huge. Imagine if you hadn't moved and regretted it, or wondered, what if...?
What you did took a lot of courage, and I thank you for this vulnerable and honest post. I believe in you. One of my friends is an actor, and he had to take a break because of how shitty the industry is. He hasn't acted in years, which is a shame because he's immensely talented. If anyone can succeed, it's you, Christine.
If you and Adam have HBO Max and you haven't watched the series BARRY, I recommend you check it out. It's a dark comedy set in Hollywood, and the past two seasons have been especially dark. This one most of all. I do think you would appreciate the character Sally's story.
I moved to L.A. from small town coastal Massachusetts in Jan 1990 with a soon to be ex and 8 month old baby. I had no aspirations to be in the industry, he worked in construction. Almost all of my long time friends there work in the industry. Mostly acting and writing and all have real jobs.
I really enjoyed your essay. Your struggles breaking into the industry are not unlike other stories I have heard from friends. The pandemic has made it difficult for everyone. I am back home in coastal Mass, since 2009. Sometimes I wonder why I left L.A. but I am at home where I grew up, and it's a quieter life.
Follow your heart. You followed your heart when you moved to L.A. It will lead you in the right direction. I hope to read more from you on this...
I love the honesty of this post. Thanks for writing it.
You are much braver than I am.
Sending a hug--feels like you need one.
*waves from Chicago
This beautiful honest vulnerable essay brought tears to my eyes, Christine. I understand that hope toil yearning and heartbreak only too well. And I, among many, consider myself so fortunate that you moved to LA. To live the life you want to live in the face of whatever obstacle is true strength. Which is another name for real happiness. Keep making your art! Please.