Fighting for Your Craft

I’ve been back in LA this week. And from the minute I got here, all I’ve wanted to do was go back to Santa Fe. There’s a specific energy here in LA for me that’s a little bit like living beneath a veil. Everything is a little bit obscured. I chalk this phenomenon up to the fact that I’m a sensitive person in a place that is grossly overpopulated, where getting through the day is incredibly stressful and people are running on empty. There’s a disconnect.

It took me a couple of months to shake free of the veil. When I landed in Santa Fe, all I wanted to do was get back to LA. Santa Fe for me has been lonely, isolating, people there are incredibly unfriendly in comparison to people here in LA. To some degree, my move there has been painful. If I hadn’t found my spectacularly amazing writers’ group in Albuquerque, I probably would have moved home already. That said, I am taking ownership of the fact that I didn’t move there to make friends. I have friends here in LA. I moved there to write. And, as far as that goes, I am doing well. I’m writing every day and I am positive now that I will be able to stay on task with the goals I’d outlined for myself before moving. This is because I moved there with the specific goal of spending the majority of my waking day writing – and that’s exactly how I spend my time.

It’s not that I wasn’t writing here. I was. Last year, I completed a manuscript and a screenplay. I had a fantastic screenwriting group in LA. But, I wanted more. I wanted to be writing more, producing more. Writing better. Writing stories that felt more deeply resonant. Between my day job and everything else going on in my life, I didn’t feel that my writing got the best parts of me. If I’m being honest, I felt it got the leftovers. It got the exhausted parts of me that hadn’t been tapped out in every other part of my day. Something had to give.

That was when I realized that I needed to fight for my creative process. I needed to take the leap of faith and experience what was on the other side. I wanted to build that life for myself where I could simplify things so that I would be writing more, and see if it was the right fit for me.

Since I’ve been home, I see with shocking clarity that moving to Santa Fe was the absolute best decision I could have made in my life at this time. I felt intuitively it was do or die: either I had to up my game considerably to get my writing to where it needs to be, or I would continue on at a pace and level that wasn’t competitive.

My life there revolves around my work process. I wake up in the morning and write (or read scripts). I work a few hours on my “day job” in the afternoon, walk the dogs, and then later in the day I write again. I can break my day up into blocks of writing time dedicated to various projects – a thriller, horror, a collection of short stories, a romantic comedy, a satire. And since it is a creatively rich place for me, I have had tons of ideas since moving there. But, I’m focusing on completing the projects that I think will best suit me at this stage in my writing life.

What I am coming to understand more thoroughly as I get older is that we don’t have time to do everything. I’m the person who wants to do everything. I often imagine how wonderful it would be if I could have a variety of clones just so I could get more done in the day. However, part of the journey of being human is being forced to choose. We have a singular vessel and thus we can only be in one place at one time. And at this juncture in time, my writing is the most important to me, so I have to make choices that support my craft – to the exclusion of other wonderful things. For example, it sucks that in Santa Fe I only know a handful of people. This blows. Really. But, it’s been really awesome for my writing because I have very few complications.

Don’t be afraid to fight for your creative process. No matter where you are in your life, if you feel intuitively that your writing demands more from you, do whatever you need to do to feed the beast. Don’t return calls. Blow up your BlackBerry. Get a proper office. Create sacred space. Rent a room in Joshua Tree for the weekend. Talk to trees. Go on a writer’s retreat in Sweden for six weeks. Move to Santa Fe. Do whatever it is that your craft is compelling you to do.

Fight the good fight. You won’t regret it. In fact, it’ll likely be the best decision you ever made.

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2 Responses to Fighting for Your Craft

  1. Jeffrey Blake Palmer July 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    Thank you for this post!

    It’s such a relief to hear about folks who move away from L.A. to get their priorities in place and, hopefully, their ducks in a row. Glad to read about your writing process. I absolutely need/should/must take your lead and get my creative schedule mapped out and solidified. There are some projects that I’ve been able to cross of my list (I’m a list guy) which has certainly been gratifying. But my problem is becoming complacent after a task is completed. No! I need to keep the wheels turning and power on with more projects to cross more off my list.

    And since I’m freelancing (video editing, graphics) it doesn’t help that business is a tad slow these days. You’d think that would be a blessing. Not! I’m always (just about) more productive when I have LESS time on my hands, not MORE. Anyone else suffer from this syndrome? I think it’s called L.A.S. or Lazy Ass Syndrome. Well, I need treatment in the worst way.

    Tomorrow is a new day. What will I do with it? Stay tuned…

    ~ Jeff

    * oh, since you mentioned cloning yourself… I actually have. Watch the results here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzVm3xH3Wrw

    and

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxnNZDksZ8E

    Trust me. IT DOESN’T HELP SOLVE THE PROBLEM. You simply end up MULTIPLYING THEM! 😉

  2. Em July 27, 2009 at 9:52 pm #

    Monica:

    Thank you so much for this brave and brazen, brutally honest staking your claim post on how important it is to “fight for your craft.” It is one of the best pieces of writing out there on any subject, and one so important. Please blast this all over the Web, as both you and the crucial sentiment here need to be heard!

    Please let me know what I can do to support you – I am so proud to know you.

    Love,
    Em