(photo by and miniature set by Charles Brogdon, On the Set)
When I was 22 I had my first revelation that I might have a drug problem. At the time I was trying to kick a coke habit, so I tried crack. After that first hit - I had never felt anything like it - something deep down said this is the drug that will kill me. I made a deal with myself: if I never smoke crack again I can keep snorting cocaine. I never smoked crack again, but a piece of me knew that negotiating one for the other probably wasn't good thinking.
Some time later I went to a party and a friend was there with his girlfriend. Someone offered her a drink and she took water. When someone handed her a mirror with a line on it she casually passed. She didn't smoke cigarettes either; though I had told everyone I quit I was sneaking onto roofs and hanging out windows to steal puffs off a Marlboro Light when I thought I could get away with it. I was intrigued by this girl and tried to imagine what it would be like to not drink or do drugs or smoke cigarettes. I couldn't imagine it, but wanted to.
Over the years if someone mentioned 'spiritual life' or 'higher power' the words would catch in my ear. Same with 'meditation.' For all of it I pictured gurus with long beards and people chanting so I'd cancel the idea of it out. The last ten years of using I was a pothead and every night (and eventually every day) I'd get high and trace figure-eights around my apartment. I'd listen to music and have moments of awareness of how I was getting in my own way, or what patterns I was repeating and how they weren't working for me. Then the next morning would come and the button would reset and I'd start all over again doing what I was doing.
My mind is like a wood chipper in that it takes everything in and frantically chews the shit out of it. I used to grind life up to try to make sense of it. I'm curious about the world around me, so a sense of wonder would pepper the sawdust, too. When I got clean I tried to meditate but my head was a pinball. After a couple years I started going to a once a week meditation group a friend led. It took a year before I could actually quiet my mind for a few minutes out of 20. Now I try to meditate regularly and when I do my head might still monkey around, but I'm sitting.
This morning I was meditating and suddenly realized how powerless I am over what's going on right now. A few months back I wrote about how it doesn't go the way I think it's gonna and at the end that of the post I mentioned that I wrote a new pilot and it had changed everything. It's true - I got the pilot to a production co., a studio came on board and they took the project to a premium cable network. Premium cable loved it, then passed and everyone dropped out. I got the project back and got it to a writer/producer who at the time was with the tv show JUSTIFIED. He loved it, and though he couldn't take it to FX he wanted to help me get a manager, which he did. I love my manager. And the writer/producer.
When I create a show I write the pilot and also create a whole platform for it including ways to maximize the business end of it. The shows I create become very real for me - I see that world in 3D and see how it fits into this one. When I get a pass I get blue and frustrated and pissed, but passes have no effect on how I feel about the project. If anything it makes me more ambitious. Going through that process showed me it isn't personal when I get a pass. Plus, new people read my work and all want to read what I do next.
Recently I finished a new project, a half-hour comedy (the other pilot is a one-hour comedic drama) and my manager is just starting to take it out. I wrote the best pilot I could and I'm so ready to get a show on the air, yet I'm powerless over what happens next. I've done everything I can to try to make this happen, and what I do now is start a new project. Writer/producers keep telling me that's how it's done. Faith tells me the same. So that's what I'm doing.