Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Too Unfulfilled

I made a film.  [Hold for applause and/or wanking motion]  It is difficult to pinpoint a specific motivation beyond simply wanting to, an admittedly broad enough class in the taxonomy of desires to cover genera from “Iono” all the way to “why not.”  Making the film was the means to an end which was making a film.  Which is all really just to say:  I didn’t have any grand designs re what to do once/if the film was completed.  And so it remains.  The problem with putting things off until the times come is that ultimately the time will come:  

Notwithstanding a long, sad list of mistakes and regrets over limitations in equipment, time, experience, ability, and most everything else save perhaps moxie, and aided by enough distance to reflect on what was done properly and enough alcohol to forget the rest, I am fairly happy with the result.  A masterpiece it is not, but there’s a lot on screen that I’m really proud of (blah blah blah), and it’s a pride dwarfed by (blah) the amount of fun (blah) I had in making it (blah).  Banal clichés aside, once the smile of smug self-satisfaction relaxed into its usual scowl and the memories of laughs dimmed to vague recollections of something happening to someone somewhere, what was I left with?  Seventeen minutes of playful whimsy viewed by no more than a few dozen friends (none of whom are my otherwise amazing and supportive and, apparently, extremely busy wife), a handful of festival rejections (another one happily came in while writing this!), and a lingering niggle of chagrin seem to be the more notable contents of my Me and I gift bag.   The unfulfilled wish for the film to reach a wider, praise-lavishing, acolyte-turning audience not only sits as an embarrassingly vain disappointment unto itself but also compromises what I hoped would and should be a singularly satisfying accomplishment.  My thoughts regarding the experience of making the film, of real achievement, are now intertwined with unpleasant feelings of unrequited longing, unfulfilled promise, and, weirdly, paradise lost.  I have cast a pall on myself.

Assuming the drive to create was as pure as I want to believe, why must it now be sullied by a demand for attention often seen in your garden-variety mental patient?  Part of it is functional in that some form of positive feedback would have facilitated or at least made making another film more likely, if not via wheel greasing of future cast and crew then by validating the push to carry on, to avoid filmmaking being added to the list of creative larks that shriveled malnourished and unattended to on the vine of my aesthetic life (see, e.g., my discarded standup career).  But there’s another part of it that reeks of pure egoism.  It’s probably normal, but I’m not sure it’s helpful.  I did something I think is pretty great.  Why can’t that be enough?  And will it ever be?  Will the drive to create lead me to do something even better, or will the fear and expectation of recognitional failure prevent me from even trying?  These are important questions, and the answers are elusive.  


Jeff said...

Your concerns equally applicable to all walks of life. There can be no success without the nagging feeling that it could have been more successful. Indeed that is what drives success in the first place ... the idea that you could add something to the world better than what's already out there (including things you've already put out there). I'd suggest accepting it as an expected phenomenon, and use it as an excuse to try to better yourself the next time out.

BTW I found the movie entertaining, for whatever it's worth.

odo said...

oh great. why can't you think about _my_ feelings?

watched, liked the movie. even described it to others, so as to be able to make further reference to it.

now i'm struggling to "write" my "dissertation" for no reason other than... (some spin on the same ol' unspecific "artistic" urge to Do a Thing)... as it has been made abundantly clear by the man professionally obligated to read the finished product that he has no intention of doing such a thing, that i should just staple together the papers i've already published, collect signatures on the cover sheet and (get my ass back in the lab, he says) step proudly forth into a new world where i can insist my junk mail prefix me Dr.

because the main feeling i'm left with is something similar: after another (successful by empirical criteria like # articles published in journals of impact factor x, which i think measures in units of joules/hogshead) stint in the science game, what lingers is the sense that "there's got to be something better than this." but obvoz the same dissatisfaction is available everywhere.

making perfect the enemy of the good? yeah probably. also need to recognize the "all this useless beauty" (f'n elvis costello) attitude is only available from higher up. writing that sentence makes me want to quit being such a whiny bitch and finish my thesis. so i can get back to more pressing, obnoxious concerns like waking up mid30s single and unemployed ("that's _DR_ mid30s single and unemployed to _YOU_ jerkasses"), whereupon the world immediately impresses how pathetic those problems are, as any attempt to complain immediately meets trumps of messy divorce, fratricidal lawsuits, dead children and assorted other conditions translating to "shut up, dr. boohoo."

shite state of affairs, Tommy, but the annoyingly simple wisdom is still the point, lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness, and that you made a thing that brought chuckles to a dozen fools is still an inspiration to e.g. get my ass to the library and keep cobbling together something that satisfies the nebulous urges inside to whatever degree possible, with hopes that maybe it helps a mug push the rock a bit further, high fives all around.

proved, disproved, reproved. rinse and repeat.