The primary motive of any ambition I hold is the all-encompassing jealousy I have of other people’s success. I think I mainly want to accomplish things in my career out of spite to people who I don’t think deserve it as much as I do. Which is everyone. No matter how much harder they’ve worked or how much more talented they are, or the connection they had that I didn’t — I have to compare where I am to where they are. And it fills my body with so much black bile, but I can’t help myself.
I’m twenty-six years old and I’ve already written for two different TV shows. I am more successful than I have any right to be. But it’s not enough. I can’t be happy where I’m at because every day, some twenty-four year old sells her screenplay for a million dollars. I don’t want to be a staff writer, I want what she has. I want to run my own show, to direct, to headline theaters. I want every single thing and it burns inside that I don’t have it. That twenty-four-year-old wrote a better script than I could? Fuck her anyway. I want that.
I guess I should be somewhat thankful for this jealousy because I guess it makes me work harder to get the things that I want, but it just feels like poison most of the time. If I could separate the two, though, to be motivated and ignore what other people get, I’d be so much happier and I’d probably work harder. Because I wouldn’t spend hours reading about deals on Deadline Hollywood and quietly fuming. I could work as hard as I needed to work and have that be it. If I got awesome writing jobs or if I sold scripts, it wouldn’t have anything to do with anyone else getting jobs or selling scripts.
A quote I often repeat and get wrong is that to be successful in the entertainment industry, you need two of three things: to be talented, to be hardworking, or to be lucky. You can’t usually get by on just one. And the only one of those three that isn’t up to God is how hard you work. And it’s also one of the most difficult things to do consistently. Working hard all your life sucks so bad, even when you’re just writing fart jokes. How can I work hard when I’m surrounded by video games and awesome TV to watch? Why shouldn’t I be able to rest on what I’ve written already and expect good things to come to me like the entitled white person that I am?
I’ve been trying for a long time to become a machine for output, to make significant progress or write something every single day. To keep up my twitter and this blog and perform a stand-up set. Oh, and maybe start a book, too. I can kind of draw mediocrely — maybe do a shitty webcomic, as well. As ahead as I am in this business compared to most people, I’ve always known that to keep it that way or get further along than where I am, I needed to work harder than the next guy is working. Or anybody else is. To work ten times as hard so there can be no argument. And I’ve always struggled with this because my true nature of being a lazy dipshit almost always prevails. I can work hard for a little while, but I always relapse into what’s comfortable. So then as soon as I’m not working on something or I know I didn’t do what I should have and I play video games instead, I feel an intense amount of guilt. And I don’t know when it would ever stop. I’m trapped by the impossibility of the amount of success I desire. But it’s the game I chose.
I think it can stop, or at least get better, when I adapt my whole body to working hard. Somehow I have to make actively creating and accomplishing things my new paradigm. I don’t know how I do it. I think just by doing it enough, I can become that way. Or maybe to stop thinking of it as a choice. These are the things that I have to do to become successful.
I think this is the best thing you can do for yourself in a creative field. Because there will always be shitty people who are more successful than you. And for a multitude of reasons as well. All of them will be bullshit and unfair. It’ll be impossible not to notice or to get mad.
But if I’m not successful as I want to be, I’ll just have to work harder than I did before. Because otherwise I didn’t deserve it. And if I really work as I hard as I can and I don’t succeed, then it’s just because I sucked. Which, weirdly, I can live with.