Paul and I started a conversation yesterday, where he mentioned my lack of commitment to screenwriting, because I veer away from screenplays and make stabs at things like short stories and book proposals. We were picking up a friend, so didn't get to finish the conversation, but the last thing he said was that I've invested time and a lot of money in this screenwriting thing, doesn't that make me a screenwriter.
The fact is, however, that the time I've spend screenwriting is not yet equal to the time I spent in the Creative Writing program. I think my original thought was that screenwriting would be something to add to my toolbox as a writer, that I would work to master the skill, and then return to my other projects as well. I'm not sure I ever planned to become "just" a screenwriter--not that it wouldn't be a good thing, just that I value my other writing learning and experience just as much, and I've devoted just as much time. The factor, however, is money--of course. The screenwriting program has been so insanely expensive. If you pay that much for a pair of shoes, it seems like they should have the premier spot in the closet, and you should wear them to all the time. That metaphor doesn't exactly work, because often if you pay enough for any one item of clothing, half the time it's only for very special occasions...but you get my meaning.
But I question, all the time--whether the money, and the perception or others, has really skewed my ability to see straight. If we were just living anywhere else--and the cost of schooling had been equal--would I just choose to write my first love--which has always been writing meant to be read. There is no getting around the fact that at heart, I am a reader.
Or, is this just me getting distracted by something similar but not the same, part way through a project so that nothing started ever gets the full weight and pressure of everything I can possibly put into it? But by that same token-- has this whole screenwriting thing been the distraction? I applied to one program, on the fly--in the middle of working on my book thesis. And once I got in, it was just a matter of staying in the boat while the rapids rushed me downstream. And now, here I am.
I want to do it all, of course--and also keep writing this blog! But it comes to a head. The fact is, I am not the fastest writer, and time is flying by. I pray to be faster and better everyday (like I used to pray to understand alphabetical order back in the second grade.) I wish I were fine with just toiling away in obscurity, but I am someone who values success, achievement, recognition. But on a day to day basis, I cannot choose between my children, and I just go to whichever one is calling the loudest that day. When I working, each one is the only one. but when I'm sitting in the car with Paul, or in someone's office, trying to explain or justify what I'm doing with my life, it is impossible to convey.
And all of this is without entering into social obligations--the sheer number of friends and acquaintances and activities available at all times, that also seem important. I know that in some places, in other times, a social activity was something you did maybe once a week. Here and now--it is pervasive, and again, I seem unable to choose--to say, "you three. You shall be my friends and I will go to your plays and return your emails and bring refreshments to your parties," and then just forget about everything else. Instead I throw a little time and a little support in a lot of directions.
My focus isn't split, it's splintered--like a windshield glass hit by a rock, leaving spider veins spread in every direction. I'm driving, but there is no clear view.