Growing pains

If not now, when? 

There’re too many good habits I’d like to have, like running, like getting up before dawn, like intense writing for three hours daily on average. And yet, other things get in the way. The things that feel so important at the time. The loud, the cute, the shiny…

Here’s my pattern: when I don’t get up at the hour I’ve promised myself, I start cutting myself short for the rest of the day. When I was in LA, I didn’t pay for training once a week, I might not even go to the gym that much even when I lived in Southern California for three years…  I throw in the towel way too early before I hear the whistle blows. 

I’d admit that what feels good at the time never really feels right later, or even right in the moment…  Life gets in the way as it always manages to. For the past two years, I would use my pending visa status as my perfect excuse.  “I can’t sit still for meditation today. I ain’t gonna write because I just don’t feel right.”

My other voice goes: When will you grow the fuck up? When will you evolve to be that person that you set out to be?  And its answer is more urgent than I wanted (“Thanks, but no thanks. Not now.”).

If we have to feel right to do anything, the human race would have gotten zero stuff done.  It takes a committed leader to claim independence against Great Britain; a single mom of three kids to rise early even when she’s just had three hours of sleep; a tennis champion to start practising her strokes again after she just won the Wimbledon Grand Slam the day before… 

To me, the ‘ruthless’ professionals are like an entirely different species, whom I’ve admired all my life.  It probably explained why I bawled my eyes out watching Jiro: Dreams of Sushi some five years ago at a time when I grilled myself every night about the meaning of my own existence. 

CUT TO: Five years later. Now. I’m living the dream as a working writer. And yet, the residue of my old self lingers in my veins like that of a recovering addict. I can’t seem to drain it out of my system just yet without serious upshots.

I want to be a world-class pro to earn that R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  It’s how Rocky became the Rocky we cheer for. And it’s why people eulogize Lagerfeld when he passed away at the age of 85 yesterday.

Maybe secretly I still fear of missing out on my wannabe-queen-bee social life. Maybe I still want to be loud now just because it feels good to hear people notice that you exist… I know those cravings are fading, but they’re still lurking in the darkness of my subconsciousness. 

To quote that line which is on the brink of becoming a cliche: If not now, when?
So yeah, what the fuck am I waiting for? My own death?

I’ve got the bullet.
Time to pull the trigger.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

Reinforced reality

Whoever we think we are, whatever we think we can or cannot do, we are reinforcing that notion about ourselves.

Two updates buoyed me today. 

  • First, the short film I wrote for this other student director got great reviews from the student’s chair and screenwriting professor, saying that it was lovely and cinematic.
  • Second, the feature director read my rewrite and said, “Great work.” 

Both would require some level of follow-up and touch-up, but I think I can finally conclude that I’m a legit working screenwriter now since I played with the notion roughly four years ago…

Yesterday I was still in the dark of what was going to unfold with these two projects.  I was scared to be exposed as a fraud, that I was sub par of what the feature director was looking for; that the student’s revered department chair and her seasoned screenwriting professor would frown at my speedy but shoddy script. 

But fear no more. I got the right amount of validation I needed. They didn’t come in the shapes of plaques or trophies or human figurines. But those intangible words measure up my “pipe dream” as a screenwriter. 

Just now, I calculated my writing earnings since the sudden halt of my California dreamin’. At this rate, I think I can move back to LA and survive and maybe even thrive. 

My current challenge is:
How shall I take on interesting writing assignments to make a living as a writer while still keep producing my own work, shaping my creative voice and style?

As you may have noticed, I still haven’t shipped my latest episode. It took more time than I am willing to allot to edit each episode. It would mean that I would have to postpone yet another catchup meeting with my old Shanghai friends. It would mean that I need to budget my time and use it with caution. Or it could mean that I need to find an assistant with I have some extra bucks.

Through a podcast friend’s referral, I applied for this Google Podcasts creator program a few weeks ago. Apart from the friends I made through Seth Godin’s podcast summer fellowship, I think this program that markets itself with the keywords like diversity and minority (I am both a woman and Asian – the rare occasion I hit the jackpot) may help my show to get to the next level. 

When I was fretting about the possible disasters of my projects for the last couple of days, my friend pointed out, “Dread or not, you have no control over what others think about your work. But what you can do is a) work as hard as you can; b) get enough work so you won’t cuss about the lost opportunities, the water under bridge.”

Whoever we think we are, whatever we think we can or cannot do, we are reinforcing that notion about ourselves. Just think about it, it goes both ways; it can be either empowering or utterly demoralizing.  And the choice is all ours.

 

Yours truly,
YZ

PS. My own case in point would be: read (almost) any of my blog posts in the summer and you will get an utterly different vibe. It was my reality then. It was my rock bottom.