Sunday, May 26, 2013
I have dreams. Big dreams. Some might call them grandiose. But I really believe anything is possible if you just put your mind to it.
I dream of lots of things. And I think it’s important to dream, because sometimes, in the darkness, they’re the only light you’ve got. They’re the only things that keep you hanging on when you feel like you’re about to come undone.
And in October of 1999 that’s what I felt like. Less and less sleep every night. The inability to sleep. Throwing things at my best friend. Cursing her. Threatening her. At one point I knew who she was, but I didn’t know my own name. And worst of all, I couldn’t write. And when I did write it was shit. The only thing I had was my dreams and her friendship.
They were my touchstones. Why they didn’t vanish I don’t know. Both of them refused to give up on me. I wanted to write screenplays. I wanted to make a movie. And when I reached out for help I saw my efforts to hang in there rewarded.
The first film I saw after being diagnosed was The Insider. Set in Kentucky and centered around the whistle blower Jeffery Wigand, I was introduced to the actor Russell Crowe in a leading role. I had seen him before in LA Confidential and he was brilliant in it. But that movie really pissed me off—cold blooded killers don’t miss at point blank range. But that’s a story inconsistency and Russell and everyone else in that movie were superb in their performances.
The cool blue filters used on Insider were soothing to my jangled, recovering nerves after an emotional breakdown. As a result I love that movie. And for all the talk of Kevin Spacey and Denzel Washington (they too were superb in American Beauty and the Hurricane) I thought Russell’s breakthrough performance as an alcoholic, tightly wound Tobacco scientist was incredible. And of course it was set in the city I was born and raised in. They had been looking for production assistants on that film. Believe me, I was kicking myself when I realized what kind of opportunity I had passed up lol.
The thing is it made me realize I could still enjoy a movie. It had been a good year since I realized just how much I couldn’t sit and relax because of the bipolar disorder. But being on the meds was like night and day. However, the worst possible thing happened, creatively I went dry and for eight months I wrote nothing. Nada, zilch. Then in May, the flood gates opened.
What happened? I saw a preview for GLADIATOR. Before I ever went to the theater I wrote a novella. It sucked. It was bad. It was a historical.
Now, I have no business writing historical. But it was a gift from the writing gods. I could still write stories. I was still passionate about writing stories. It was such a relief to know I wasn’t dead in that area as I had ALWAYS been passionate about storytelling.
Missy says I’ve always got my head in the clouds and she’s got me by the ankles grounding me so that I don’t float off into the ethers. Which is sooo very true.
I often have a big vision and I can get things moving. Like the Red Carpet Launch for example. I made the plans. Food, my publisher, the Booktrailer Film Festival, the promotion, the venue. When we got to the location Missy set up everything. The books, the swag display, the food, the ice. She’s really great. Everyone should be so lucky to have at least one friend like Missy.
I mean, it’s not like I’m chopped liver. We’ve truly walked through the fire together. She’s seen me at my worst and not walked away and vice versa. You don’t find friends like that everyday, hell, you don’t find family like that everyday.
When you’ve eaten spaghetti five nights a week and hot dogs the other two nights for variety and meat with someone who understands what it’s like to go to bed hungry and wake up hungry then you know they’re a friend.
I know it’s crazy but the litmus test for the guy in my life won’t be my mom and dad, it will be Missy. Mom and Dad will just want someone who will take me off their hands. I know I’m thirty-seven but I believe it’s never too late to find love.
Given my life often it is hope that keeps me going. Dreams that fuel my ambition. And I look for that hope and those dreams in my field of passion. The creative arts. But I know a lot of elbow grease goes into that ambition. That nose to the grindstone approach is the only thing that works. And that success is in the eye of the beholder.
I have had success. And yet I dream of different things. I’m excited about THE LAST WARRIOR series I’m working on. Maybe I’ll share more about it next time. As it is this letter is long and I’m sure you and whoever is reading this understands dreams don’t just happen, but that hard work is the only thing that leads to it. Even then it’s not a guarantee. You have to be prepared when the opportunity arises. And have a dash of luck for good measure. These last two and a half years I’ve been ready. I’ve been fortunate. And I’ve capitalized on opportunities that have presented themselves. I don’t apologize for that. I’ve spent my whole life apologizing for the person I was. I’m sick of that shit. I have people in my circle who have a problem with that, and it seems, unfortunately I’m going to have to deal with them sooner rather than later. And it makes it especially hard when you’re depending on them so much.