One Whole Year and I’ve Made No Money!

It’s almost been one whole year since the day I left my hometown of Chicago to the vast and mysterious ways of Los Angeles, following my dreams in pursuing film and writing.  To say that it hasn’t been interesting would be a flat out lie, but to say it’s been the most exciting experience EVER would also be a dead-ass lie.  In reality, it’s been an emotional ride full of its up and downs, obvious depression, over-bearing stress, but easily the most eye-opening and revealing year I’ve ever had, outside of maybe my year abroad, but even then…

There’s no point of detailing every single event or situation that occurred throughout these last 12 months cause really, that’s just completely unnecessary.  This blog isn’t some sort of Asian Xanga in middle school where I write down what happened on that uneventful day trying to showcase to the world that I live a meaningful life watching movies, eating at fast food Chinese restaurants, and then following it with infinite amounts of “Hahas” and “Lols”.  No no no no no.  That’ll be for when I turn 50 and have nothing else to write about.

Honestly, there isn’t much to say that I’d be comfortable writing about, outside of how important this year has been.  If you look at it from a societal-cultural perspective (remember, I’m coming from a Korean-Christian community), this has been a complete waste of time.  No job, no security, no financial security, no foreseeable future of incoming promotions and self-pr0claimed successes.  Nope.  None of that.  So what did happen?  I wrote.  I read.  I watched a lot of films and television shows.  I taught.  Sometimes.  I went to Disneyland (it’s awesome).  I spent a lot of time with an incredible person who validates my venture and secures my insecurities and strengthens my weaknesses.  I saw who I was, this insignificant person trying to do something very significant and meaningful.  An undisciplined “artist” that realized that art isn’t just inspiration, but hard work, determination, and perseverance.  We sometimes imagine these same artists sitting and waiting, and then all of a sudden, striking a hit of genius and working.  No, that doesn’t really happen, we at least for me.  I have to sit, write, contemplate, rewrite, sit, read, watch, write, sit, contemplate, go to the bathroom, sit, sometimes both.  It really is a redundant and repetitive process that works if you’re willing to work.

I’ve learned that I have a fond distaste for religion and organizational spirituality, which really means I don’t find church very interesting.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m deeply involved and intrigued by the spiritual world, God, and how the universe all works, but I find the idea of people searching only for the truth to be somewhat obsolete, whereas we should focus on the journey of finding ourselves and the meaning of life and God, and let relevant truth come to us.  But that’s just my humble opinion.

I’ve learned that my writing really sucked before, and now it sucks, maybe sucks somewhat.  I don’t know really.  I’m never a good evaluator of my own work, thinking on some days I’ve striked an endless river of oil, and then on others I tell myself “I suck” on infinite repeat.  But going back to my previous work from the beginning of this journey, I definitely can say confidently that I’ve gotten better, and really, that’s worth it.  Though I may not believe it wholeheartedly or looking at my bank account will say otherwise, in my heart I know it’s worth it.  Improving on your craft is all people on this journey have, and if we stall and stay stagnant in terms of our craft, what are we essentially doing?

I’ve met some incredible people.  People who inspire me, people who provide great analysis, people who care and want to support.  People who are worth going on this journey with.  It’ll be great to look back in 10-20 years down the road, and reminisce about these “hard times” and see how far we’ve come.  But for now, all we have is our friendships and our work.  And that’s plenty.

I’ve seen some incredible films and have read some life-changing books.  If you’re pursuing a career in film, writing, art, etc. and NOT constantly watching films, reading as many books as possible, and increasing your intellect, knowledge, and growth in your own world, then I really don’t know why you’re in this.  This is something that I’ve learned SO LATE, and is probably my biggest regret in life.  I look back in my childhood, and somehow had forgotten my love for stories, literature, and film, writing stupid short novels in my heydays in school, and being given my parents’ cameras and shooting as much crap as possible, making remakes and spoofs of films and documenting my sisters’ friends in ways that was quite revealing actually.  And somehow, I forgotten this during high school and the majority of my years in college.  It feels like I’m seven or eight years behind, and regardless of if that’s true or not, it motivates me to soak is as much as possible now.  I always feel like I can give advice, and I actually love doing so, but considering my words are meaningless in the creative world, the only thing I can say with validity (kind of…) is that if you love something so much that you’re going to follow it, you better be immersing yourself in that world.  Read, watch, study, discuss, and reflect continuously.  Even when you do make it, you still religiously follow these five patterns.  If not, then oh well.

I can keep going.  I really can.  And you know, seeing that I can keep going is enough evidence to me that this past year was worth it.  And though I may not have been successful in terms of what I’ve accomplished in substance, I know, deep down, I’ve grown.  I’ve learned.  I’ve gained some sort of knowledge about this process, this craft, and this life that I want.  I wish I wrote more (I’d go crazy if I did), I wish I networked more (though being social is so exhausting…), I wish I made more money, I wish I read more, watched more, did more, but something that I’ve recently learned is that more is a distant reach that doesn’t really exist.  Even if we met our potential or have crossed it, we’ll always be slightly unsatisfied, wondering if we could’ve achieved or done more.  Ambition isn’t always a positive trait, nor is being content.  But somewhere between the two, there has to be a balance of motivation and acceptance.  Hard work and enjoyment.  Strength and grace.

I think the hardest thing about this choice is hearing all the “No’s” thrown at you.  “No, this script isn’t good”.  “No, we’re not interested.”  “No, you’re not ready.”  “No, you’re not fit for this job.”  “No, I will not refill your Venti Iced Coffee for the fifth time” ( I’ve not refilled my coffee at Starbucks five times… by then I switch to Iced Passion Tea).  At first, these No’s were brutal and soul-sucking, making me divulge into my own sea of pity.  But slowly, each and every “No” wasn’t a bullet piercing my thin skin, but it slowly became a push.  But not this push where I hate everyone and want to destroy you with my success, but a push towards working harder, trying harder, seeing things differently, and trying to get better.  Eventually, there will come a point in life where these “No’s” will have pushed me so hard and so far that finally, one day, all these “No’s” will become a “Yes”.  And that’s why we do this.  To hear those few “Yeses”.

Keep going.  Keep going.  Keep going.

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