Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The last days of being my current age

Soooo... Thursday, I age a little bit more. Yes, we age every day, but I'll be celebrating the beginning of another calendar year. And while, on occassion, Amy and Bill and I all gleefully point at each other and accuse "You're old!" and then dance in a circle, I don't usually fret too much about the "one step closer to death" factor of getting older.

The only thing birthdays make me do, though, is take stock of what has come before and wonder if I'm as far along as I should be.

When I was sixteen, I was convinced that I'd be a published novelist by the time I'd graduated high school. That didn't happen. In fact, it would be another five years before I published my first short story in a professional magazine (earning me the princely sum of "one contributor's copy"), and another year before I would actually get paid for any of my writing, fiction or non.

By 24, I was having serious doubts as to whether filmmaking was really my forte. But I perservered, with Amy's, Bill's, and my good friend Bill Fuller's help, and we pulled out Tenants, a haunted house story that enabled me to graduate from film school. And, miraculously enough, less than six months later, was sold to SRC Video (although then it was Salt City Video, just before it became Sub Rosa) for international distribution. This launched our careers in the indie scene and made me the only one in my graduating class to sell their senior film for any amount of money. And thanks to its presence on the Campfire Tales DVD, we still get royalty checks for it!

At 25, the three of us decided to throw sanity to the wind and shoot our first feature. On film. And we're still shopping that one around! Leading me back to where I was in film school, wondering if I'm really cut out for filmmaking.

When I question this out loud, as I did at New Year's dinner with Mike and Carolyn, Carolyn questioned me as to what I thought I'd be doing all this time. And I returned to my original high school goal. I really did think I'd be a published novelist by now.

So, recently, I've been pursuing my fiction - or even non-fiction in book form - a little more rigorously, with the help of my friend, Paula Guran, who runs the terrific horror-fiction site Dark Echo, but she's been telling me something I think I've known all this time: the climate is terrible for the publishing industry. Like the film industry--or, actually, worse--the big publishers only want names and formula novels. The smaller houses don't have the resources to promote anything with a unique vision. And in neither case can you possibly make a living at it. Which simply echoes my current situation in the film realm, only I'm more intimately equated with this world and know more of the best people to deal with here.

So, ultimately, there's no sense in playing this game any longer. I am where I need to be, I suppose. Whether I should be further along, well, that's just speculation and hindsight-playing, innit? I got to where I am now through the help of a great many people, Amy in particular, and via the choices I made.

But no one gave us anything. We never waited around for someone to hand us the keys to the city. We worked for it. And this is as far as we are right now. And not to get all Muppety, but the view from here looks pretty good. Sure there are mountains left to climb that are blocking one direction, but I can look back and see what we've achieved so far, and, dammit, we haven't done too badly.

I haven't done too badly.

So now, at a year older, heavier than I was in college, with Reed Richards hair, I can look out at the year ahead of me. We've been hired to shoot a short by the end of March, and we have at least two new movies we're going to try and shoot before we undertake Genghis Con, PA, yet again. And I'll continue to buck the odds and try and get something book-length published, with no help from my agent. I'll continue to make Sirens of Cinema the best magazine I can. I'll continue to cover and profile indie movies that I believe in made by people I care about.

And I'll continue to write odd, "Chicken Soup for the Psychotic" blogs like this, no doubt. (Because it seems like there are more than a few people who actually pay attention when I talk, which is more than what I used to have - so maybe I actually have something to say every now and then.)

A year older, and I'll perservere. (Because I'll never be as old as Bill!)

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