Well, I am home, I am exhausted, and I am (mildly) tan. Despite being hit by some serious post-plane sleepiness, I’m going to honor Blog Saturday with a (brief) unload of post-LA emotions. I say brief because there are a lot of feelings I’m currently processing since my return to the mitten this afternoon. The biggest one is: entertainment is not my industry. I realized that sometime around Monday, and flew into a swift oh-my-gosh-was-this-trip-a-mistake spiral. Travelling to LA was kind of a “fact finding” mission for me to determine if entertainment was the right fit. Once it became clear that entertainment was not my glass slipper, I was concerned that I wouldn’t get that much out of my trip. How do you network with people who are going to assume you’re there to learn the ins and outs of the Biz? How do you stay true to yourself when you’re not totally sure who that is?
Spoiler Alert: I figured it out (Mostly. As much as a 21-year-old college student can).
It was certainly intimidating to be on a trip where everyone seemed to know exactly what they wanted except for me, because I’ve always taken for granted that my vision forward was clear… for the most part. It made me incredibly insecure to not know what questions to ask, to feel misfit with the situations I was in and people around me… to feel a little lost. Although I must say, if I was going to be lost anywhere, a place with palm trees, sand, and picturesque mountains was probably a good choice.
With each site visit, I accrued more and more knowledge about an industry that intrigued me like a magical unicorn. Part of me was hoping the magical unicorn was going to suddenly canter into the foreground of my murky forward vision as if to say, “Look at me, look at me! Here I am! Here’s your answer!” Well, the magical unicorn stayed in the forest and offered no such guidance… I was excited to absorb information, but other than pure curiosity about steps to production and camera equipment, I didn’t see those little technical pieces being of much use to me. We were required to keep a trip journal to reflect on each visit and discuss what we found interesting, what we found useful, etc… and as I completed mine, I noticed that I still had paragraphs on paragraphs of advice that could translate outside the world of entertainment.
Much like my Paranoid Parrot flight anxiety, my am-I-a-failure-because-entertainment-isn’t-right-for-me worries began to ebb as I extracted the insights that could help point me back onto my path, even though it was no longer pointing to Tinseltown. It encouraged me to get back to my roots and reconnect with how my passion for writing translates best. It even cleared some of that career anxiety by reminding me that I know what’s a good fit and what’s not… and also by assuring me that it’s okay to have a little doubt, because that’s what can help motivate you onward.
On our last visit, I got a really solid piece of writing advice: “write the movies that you want to go see.” Translate to something more all-purpose and I suddenly had an answer to many of the fears I’ve faced as of late: Write the stories you want to read. Not the stories your fiction class wants to read. Not the stories someone else is writing. Not the stories society is comfortable with. Not the stories that fill a formula rather than a heart. The stories I want to write, because they are mine. Going to LA reminded me that I need to take ownership of my writing and my passion if it’s going to take me anywhere. A writer is someone who writes, not to sell books, not to be the best– a writer writes because they must write, plain and simple. I must write, and I am finding the stories I want to tell.