Earlier this year, I finally had a little success getting some scripts written. It is one of my greatest embarrassments that I moved out to L.A. over three years ago and still barely have any written material that I’m proud enough to show anybody, much less submit to a contest or fellowship. Thus it was a great feeling finally to be closing out script after script, even if they were just first drafts, even if they were just shorts and webisodes, even if initial reactions to them had just been lukewarm. I was getting writing done. Progress was happening.
It wasn’t a conscious or active decision, but I then let my foot off the pedal and decided to celebrate my meager accomplishments in the only way I knew how—by drinking until my mind was obliterated and then going out and doing all the things my happily married friends claim they never spend any time missing.
It’s March now, and I feel like I’ve never stopped celebrating, although I’ve long run out of reasons to celebrate. I’m certainly not writing.
Accomplishing the goals I set for myself is a very broad, level happiness. It’s foundational. It brings stability and makes me feel secure. It’s the type of happiness you feel after staying patient and disciplined long enough to see the fruits of your hard labor.
The happiness I feel in anticipation of an ungodly amount of drinking is different. It’s sharp. It spikes. It makes me want to drop whatever I’m doing and just get started. Nothing gets finished. It’s the type of happiness you feel the moment you realize you’ve just met someone amazing with whom you’ve made a special bond. It’s a crush, that feeling the cynical would call infatuation and the uneducated would call falling in love.
Getting drunk, to me, feels like love.
And then I wake up the next morning, and that feels like headaches and nausea. I don’t get out of bed until the sun is already setting, missing out on the only consistent source of brightness living in L.A. I open my wallet and cringe at the numbers on the receipts crumpled in there. I spend the entire day reacquainting my brain with functioning, and then I go to bed again with the self-imposed burden of knowing two days have gone by without any steps taken toward that distant place of success in my mind.
Of course, that’s not the entire story of my failing grade in Hollywood. I wasn’t popping 30 mg of Adderall XR a day to curb my drinking. But the stress doesn’t help. The distraction doesn’t help. The guilt and the shame don’t help. The pressure I put on myself might’ve been too high, and the drinking to alleviate it doesn’t help. Chasing women around bars doesn’t help. Making snarky comments on Facebook statuses from people I barely know doesn’t help. Taking a picture of a sandwich and putting it on Instagram with a Lo-Fi filter and the sunburst doesn’t fucking help.
And yet — is that the answer? I’ve already given up a steady income, a wonderful relationship, traveling with my friends to all the places in the world I’m dying to see; all because I thought those held me back from being able to do what I needed to do. Am I to give up one more thing that I love? Of course I could do it in moderation, but what’s the point? My love isn’t drinking. My love is getting drunk.
I have always subscribed to the belief that you can’t be creative without a full life, but the further I immerse myself in my creative pursuits, the emptier my life feels. Are these hollow sacrifices that I’m making? And if I’m doing it wrong, what is right? Should I get married and knock out a couple kids? The stress hasn’t helped.
It’s March 2013. Year 4 of the L.A. Experience. I know incredibly more now than I did when I first got here, and I’m still laughably far from figuring it out.
The only thing I’ve discovered is what I’d long already known: this helps. Blogging, I have found, is not writing. Not the writing I’m trying to do, but it’s close. It begets writing, which begets more writing. Just as progress begets more progress and success begets more success. Momentum is so critical to accomplishing goals, and every drinking binge drags that to a crawl if not an utter stop. Yet how much would I have to write about if all I did was right? Doesn’t great inertia build even greater momentum?
I’m not sure what to think. All I want right now is a drink.