Am I a writer yet?

The waitress who’s an actress. The Uber driver who’s a bodybuilder. The banker who’s a painter. The lawyer who’s a stand-up comedian.
In the past when people asked me what I do, I always conceded to my day job.

“I work in real estate.”

I’ve tried to tell people what I really do (where most of my time/energy goes).

“I’m a writer.”

Truth is, I’m not one hundred percent comfortable with that. It feels immodest. The next question is always, “What do you write? Have you ever had anything published?”

And when I go into the details of my mild successes, it feels contrived. Their faces are a little bit confused like they’re grappling to find a reason to validate me. They’re seeing right through me. I’m a fraud. I’m full of shit. I’m reminded of why I don’t say I’m a writer…

How much success do I need? How much money do I need to make? When will the phrase “I’m a writer” feel authentic?

I spend five to six hours a day working on my writing. That’s twice as much time I spend on the day job. I’m very lucky that I can prioritize my writing over everything and still pay my bills. AND now that I’m in grad school, I’m writing all the time. Saturday and Sunday afternoons are now spent writing. Or at least outlining, thinking, brainstorming, navigating stories or reading scripts and books.

So now, if someone would approach me and ask me what I do?

“I’m a grad student.”

I can show them the homework and feedback I got from my workshop. In two years I can show them the Master’s degree and the debt I’ve accumulated. That’s a result. That’s merchandisable. That’s a “viable product.” I can’t show them the countless unproduced screenplays or the short stories or even this blog. That’s not enough. The grad student fits into a box and makes sense. There’s an end game. No need to grapple with that.

ME: “I’m writing a screenplay. I’m a writer.”

SOME GUY: “Oh, so then what’s next?”

ME: “I have no fucking idea.”

I’ve been produced. I’ve sold a script. My novel is being published. I spend the majority of my weekly hours writing, so what has to happen? What would help me confidently answer this question: What do you do? What are you? What am I?

I don’t think there is a clear answer to my identity crisis. It’s hard to say if it’ll ever change. Maybe when I’m living in LA and making money writing screenplays full time… I long for this day. There is honor in it. A LABEL that I strive for.

I’m reminded that all I can do is write.  And to be a writer means to write.

Always be writing.

 

-REH

Neglecting My Blog

I recently came across an article about common mistakes writers make with their online profiles.

“Neglecting your blog” was listed in the top eight.

I said shit, opened WordPress, and started writing this overdue post. It’s been well over a year since I’ve added to this blog. A lot has changed since then: I graduated college, moved into a house with my girlfriend, wrote a novel, made my first spec feature sale! A tree fell on my car. I got a new car. I produced a web series. I was accepted into Boston University‘s MFA screenwriting program. I moved to Boston. I got rid of that new car. And even more recently I landed a publishing contract for that said novel.

I’ve never been so elated and scared in my entire writing/storytelling career.

And through all of this, my blog has taken a back seat. My stomach turns when I think about it. For a while, I felt obliged to post. But then I justified my inept ability to fully materialize a post by saying what for? I turned my energy elsewhere: to my novel, to my web series and other film projects, to my grad school applications, etc.

The certain previously stated good news (publishing contract and grad school acceptance) made me decide to continue building my online presence by adding to this blog I’ve neglected for so long. Finally.

Sometimes goal setting takes stating it not only to yourself but to the WORLD. What better way to create an obligation — if you don’t follow through, you’ll look like a real bullshitter.

My goal is to start posting a blog entry at least once a month. I think that’s viable with my very busy schedule.

Here are some things to expect to read about:

  • I write 500 words a day – no matter what. I want to share this process with you on how you too can reach your daily writing goals.
  • I have some new short stories to share.
  • Over the coming months, I’ll be preparing my novel for publication! I’m sure that will inspire a post or two.
  • I live in Boston now. A city I had never even visited before. It’s been arguably my biggest life change.
  • Politics. I constantly have tons of opinions on the current political conundrum. I’ve turned away from the fruitless Facebook platform for sharing these thoughts. Maybe a succinct blog post will cure the frustration and yearning for my opinion to be heard.

Thanks for reading.

 

Always be writing.

-REH

The couple across the room, don’t know each other’s secrets yet.

She’s a pretty girl. He appears to be a nice guy. I’m sure they met in class. He then went and found her on a social network and liked some of her photos and then she messaged him. The next time in class, he asked her out for ice cream and to go see the latest Adam Sandler movie. She apparently was willing.

And now here they are. I sip my coffee and make assumptions. I give them a back story and guess their names: Barry and Danielle. Those are the first two names that come to mind. They hold hands discreetly. He talks too loud and dominates the conversation. She laughs and enjoys his low-brow humor. Me not so much. I sip my coffee some more and try to concentrate on my reading that’s due in an hour. I can’t help to listen. I can’t help to watch.

They don’t each other’s secrets yet. She hasn’t seen his penis, I’m sure of that. That’s when things get real. That’s when he can stop talking so loud. That’s when he can start feeling comfortable. That’s when they don’t have to hold hands sitting only a foot apart. That’s when they don’t have to look into each other’s eyes when the other is talking. They say sex changes things. I suppose this is a fine example. Sure, they look comfortable. Maybe even slowly falling in love, but they aren’t there yet. It hasn’t gotten real.

But this is when it’s fun. This is when the pressure is on and they’re both trying. This is when he takes her to dumb Adam Sandler movies and buys her ice cream. This is when he goes on tangent about how talented Michael Jordan is. This is when she’s still interested in listening. It will all change. They’ll tell each other secrets. She’ll see his penis and he’ll notice the ugly mole on her neck. The pressure is off. They’ll be revealed. And then suddenly Adam Sandler isn’t funny and Michael Jordan isn’t that talented.

These are assumptions. I sip my coffee. She puts her coat on. They exchange a soft, awkward, and discreet kiss.  She goes away. He sits down and looks into his phone. I turn to my reading and I’m confident they’ll both be just fine.

-REH

Sometimes I have dreams.

It was a dim morning. The time of the year when the sun starts coming out a little bit later, in the last part of summer. It’s an odd transition and noticeable to someone who wakes up as early as I do. The pain came with force, right to my head. It happened so quickly I thought I was dead. When I came to, a bright light shined in my left eye — a police officer, with a mustache and an earring in his right ear. I remember thinking, police officers aren’t supposed to wear earrings. Blood trickled down to my chin; it crossed my lips without entering my mouth. The blood wasn’t warm, but cold, and the stiff early fall breeze only emphasized its journey down my face.

I woke up when I knew it was safe. A fuzz of blankness was the last thing I saw. Like when the TV signal goes out, and you’re left with just noise.

Always be writing.

-REH

It’s a wild ride from sun up to sun down.

It’s a wild ride from sun up to sun down.

I don’t where to begin this story. So I’ll start where I think you’ll enjoy it the most.

My brother, the recently divorced, alcoholic, with rotted teeth, and a receding hairline, rented a Dodge Viper. Classy, I know. Our mission was Las Vegas. I’ve never been, he has, on his second and third honeymoon.

I was hesitant at first. Never really digging the slots or a game of black jack, but I accepted through guilt, after his recent bout of depression, how could I say no? Here I was, in a Dodge Viper, with my oldest brother, smoking a blunt on the highway, just outside Vegas in the scorching heat of Nevada. He still drove like he did in High school. Like a maniac. I would grab the handle above the passenger door. I think he enjoyed watching my face tense, when we would pass a semi. It didn’t take long for him to open up about Stephanie. She was a young girl, too young for him. She had three kids to a prior man, who by chance, was a trucker. They had been married in March and separated in August. It finalized earlier this year and it was short lived.

I felt bad. My brother was a hard worker; he loved his job at the local plant. His main weakness was for desperate woman who were willing. She baited him like a fish. He bought her a house, put in a new deck, and added a room for the kids — all this in a matter of three months. When he was done, came the fighting. I guess he was out of something to do. He expected attention from her. She didn’t realize how needy he could be. I’ve heard him on the phone. I know.

This weekend will be good for him. It will be good for the both of us.

To get away and meet new people. Because that’s what life is about — the people.

(Sometimes I write short fictional stories with no ending in sight)

Always be writing.

-REH

She Came Late at Night

She came late at night, with a dozen roses and a bucket of water.

At first, one can assume the water was for the roses. A bucket is an odd choice, but what else could she have it for?

I didn’t ask right away, as it was so late. I had to be up early. She had to be up early. I let her in and I rubbed my eyes dry. “What are you doing here?” I asked.

She responded after a long pause and told me to follow her upstairs.

The water shook with her steps. A trail of water was left behind. At this hour, I couldn’t find the energy to complain. So I didn’t. We sat on my bed and she handed me the flowers. I soon realized the flowers were the exact same ones I had given her three weeks ago. See, three weeks ago was our four-year anniversary of dating. Naturally, I got her flowers — It’s what she expected. It’s what everyone expects.

“Are these the same flowers?” She nodded yes. “But how? How are they still so fresh?” I asked.

She replied, “It’s in the water.”

(Sometimes I write short fictional stories with no real ending)

Always be writing.

-REH

Sex in the Airport Closet

Two travelers, both tired, sit adjacent to each other among others. Both coming from Wichita, Kansas to North Point, Maine. It wasn’t exactly a long flight. A couple hours, the layover in Boston added to it. But what came over these two seemly responsible, uncharismatic, straight-laced people, we will never know.

It started with a glance. Then the horrible news of yet another delay. She took a nap and he doodled in a notebook. He tried to read, but others grabbed his attention. Especially her, in her leggings. She once got up to check on the vending machine. He glanced at her behind and the absence of her underwear. What are the chances? She returned from the vending machine with nothing.

She was far away. He couldn’t possibly make the move, let alone, having to yell over the family of six and the guy with his headphones too loud. He didn’t even attempt it. She had a boyfriend. He figured. How could she not? I mean, sure, he was in a relationship as well, but it wasn’t working out. Why make the effort? Then again, maybe that’s exactly what it’s all about — The Effort. People should put more time into what they want. It’s about the risk, he told himself.

He’ll doodle for another five minutes and take a lunge over there. He has no idea what to draw, so he draws eyes.

He closes the book and picks up his bag. He crosses over and sits down next to her.

 

(Sometimes I write short fictional stories with no real ending)

Always be writing.

 

-REH