The Helsinki Bus Station Theory
If any writer’s roller-coaster emotional journey could be plotted on a graph, it would probably look like a sin wave, or like the knee-jerk stock-exchange pic I’ve attached to this post. Writer, do you ever feel like one of those air-filled man-balloons dancing crazily outside gas stations? Yeah, probably all the time. If your writer’s existence is anything like mine, you probably start your day with a bout of angst-filled self-searching along the lines of, “Why am I doing this to myself?”
I walked past a pair of tan leather ankle boots the other day. A bargain they were, almost half-price. I couldn’t afford them. I was calculating how many panic attacks they would cost me when I worried about my bills, so I walked away from the boots and got back to my desk.
Roller-Coaster Writer’s Life
The thing to remember is that for every low point on the graph, there is usually a high. The trick is to enjoy those when you have them. Not enough? Kick the writing into the long grass and go get a “real job.”
You also need to keep firmly in mind the Helsinki Bus Station Theory, which is best explained by my writer friend, Fiona Leitch, in her blog post here for Stage 32.
Basically, you set off on the same route as all the other buses in order to get out of town, but at some point you branch off on your designated route. The thing is to stick with it, because it leads to your unique destination, where people who get you and who are looking for the stuff you’ve got in your writer’s bag, will find you.
My 2018 Wins
There’s a lively writers’ group on Facebook, Bang2writers, where we writers share our wins and losses, shout “Yay!” or sob on each other’s shoulders. Hearts and tears emojis everywhere. I love the way obsesses is a keyword in the description. Ha! We’re all on the roller-coaster, sweating the ‘ups’ and losing it on the ‘downs’. The constant message is to stay on the bus. Fiona Leitch has got the T-shirt. So, in 2018, what did I achieve? When December came around, I thought, oh boy, that went fast, and I’ve achieved NOTHING! But, actually, when I took stock, I found here’s what’s in the bag:
I published FLAT SQUIRREL the book in June.
I have three finished and polished screenplays ready to hike around Hollywood in 2019.
I have more projects in the works.
I’ve written a bunch of shorts which are attracting interest.
I’ve done more online training and study, and had a “deep-learning” moment in November which augmented my skill set enormously and advanced my critical understanding of the process of writing a successful, coherent, unified screenplay.
On the Up in 2019
I’m enthusiastic about taking my writer’s career forward in 2019. I’m fully committed until the end of March. I embark on one more study course which should complete the skill set I need, and I start two new projects and finish a third. My goal is to be a working screenwriter in the Family Genre and I’m going to get there.
In the UK, the population is currently burdened by the threat of 1) food shortages, 2) lack of medicine supply, including life-critical and long-term medication and 3) the deployment of troops on the streets. However, if you are a serious writer, you will carry on despite these negative forces against you, and keep writing. Ignore the roadblocks, because it is only by staying on the bus you will reach your destination.
Like all writers, I have given up so much to pursue the writing career. I’ve invested ten years full-time in it, and countless years part-time, consequently this still makes me a newbie. Steven Pressfield (The War of Art) lived in his car for 16 years, apparently. I can’t give up now.
If you intend to “keep writing”, make it a conscious decision and when your writing makes you suffer, remember you chose it. You could have made another choice; you could have chosen the day job and bought the ankle boots, but the fact you gave up everything means you do it for other reasons, not the boots. Also keep in mind, if you stay on the bus (Fiona Leitch) you might just reach your destination. I just can’t believe the thing travels so damned fast.
You can read samples of my scripts on Script Revolution.
Image courtesy of Picjumbo.