My 100 Day Challenge: Move To California to write and to live... Day 1... Out of the dark
Disclaimer: This is going to be a long ride - a daily blog every day for 100 days. Unlike anything else I've blogged, it's going to go to places more honest than I've been able to go before. There are sad parts and there will be humour. Those who are so inclined can learn a bit... maybe even a lot about writing, about producing and as I attempt it, about the boring technical details of relocating your life from one continent to another. Others can learn a bit about me, maybe more than they might otherwise have wanted. Either way, it's going to be one hell of a journey and I welcome any who care to share it.
Beyond my mum who reads everything i write... regardless of how well I hide it on the internet.
"I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it."
I think a lot of people knows what it feels like to empty the well. In this, life and writing are one, just as they are to many people who do this crazy thing for a living. I've never been one to eulogise on the writing life or even let it define me. A student of Hemingway, whom I always turn to when I feel the need to cut through whatever BS life (or I) have generated. For the first ten years of my career, I felt like I could control it, work the industry and when I needed it, call upon my talent and experience and skill to do the job.
So no BS, I have ridden the writing life - making my own interpretation and for the most part, my own rules. Writing has taken me from Scotland to London, then as far a field as Nigeria, China and Korea, projects in Russia, across Europe and recently to the USA. I'm even sitting writing this blog looking out over the romantic and rainswept, (grey and depressing) rooftops of Paris. (Which is perhaps why I have a case of the Hemingways right now)
I laugh a little when I read the quote. I know full well what Ernest meant by refilling the well 'At night from the springs that fed it'. Spoiler alert. He wasn't talking about a good night's sleep. His nights included conversations in Paris bars with some of the greatest creative minds of his generation, not to mention plenty of dry Martinis and energetic dalliances in addition to his string of wives.
But just as these experiences can refill an empty well, so too can their negative empty it. The European writing life is not for the faint hearted. Year upon year of struggle to generate and develop projects in a small yet refined pool... So many nearlys and almosts. The champagne of success so close that you can feel the tingle of the bubbles against your skin and wet your lips in anticipation only for... Only for one of the ninety-nine things to shift and leave you grasping at your project as it once again slips through your fingers like the finest sand.
Ok, Hemingway would have found that a bit flowery, but I see this experience in the faces of my talented, dedicated friends. It's there in the lines around the eyes, won in a struggle that makes you earn every inch of your success. My first Hollywood feature as producer took twelve years from script to screen. I thank my stars I wasn't on it for all twelve. But that's the path we choose as writers and producers of independent films. A hard profession... And that's just work. Jay Z would probably agree that even with ninety-nine problems, the one hundredth is the one you remember.
I couldn't say the business did for my relationship, though I know many that could and can see the pressures it creates, but in any case... loss is loss. Breaking things and trying to mend the parts that remain empties the well. For a while, it drained mine with such force that I got to see what the bottom of an empty well looks like, to stare down expecting to see and to feel what you always have, and finding nothing. My will to write joined the list that included Alan Rickman, Prince, Bowie, BHS and many many others that failed to make it out of 2016 alive.
Everyone's experience of this is different, but with mine, that abyss came with a tiny, almost childlike voice that whispered three simple words. "No. More. Compromise." If I'm going to be a writer, I'll be a writer. If I'm going to be in love, I'll be in love and feel it in my soul. No. More. Compromise. And for me, as fortune would have it, both those things can be accomplished in the wider Californian area which is, as geographical convenience goes, pretty damn sweet.
So I'm going... And I'm going to share here on this page the whys, wherefores and ups and downs of the adventure as a kind of trail of breadcrumbs for other mid level, recently broken up, more recently lovestruck European writers who might come after me. Maybe I'll make it big. Maybe I'll have to sell my own ass to buy an air ticket home. Who knows, but either way, it's likely to be an experience, maybe even one of which Hemingway might deign to approve.