Long story short, I was miserable, I moved, and now I'm not. It took a while and a lot of work but I got here. I had been trying to do this stuff for three decades so hard work and dedication and relentlessness and ignoring assholes was always the job. And being really good was always the goal. I have never prescribed to the idea of being just good enough and making a living at this stuff. No, it's actually a talent contest. And you can never be the best, because there isn't a best, just different(I have a story that really kicked my ass about that, I'll get to it in a moment).
You have to keep trying and keep getting better and never stop. So I did that. But sure, I almost stopped. And it almost killed me.
Actually everything is going great. Now. But, unfortunately you get here from encouragement or discouragement and I got here from the latter. And lots of pain. I'll get into all the fun stuff but the road there was the hard part(why I haven't been talkative for so long). I'm just saying all this because otherwise you'll think this ends really badly. It hasn't so far. It's going good again, I guess. But here's how I got there.
Art Or Death
I couldn't write. I could barely draw. I had no one to talk to. I lost hope and my lifelong belief in me doing art, acting, or writing. In the end, I had a horrible few months and I reached out, non dramatically to talk to anyone, or at least the people who said they were there for me, and the only thing I heard was complete ignorance of who I was or what I was doing. And the people I called never called me back. I was as unimportant to the people around me as I could possibly be. I wasn't even worth a phone call.
So I admitted it to myself, if anyone ever cared about me my life would be completely different.
What's the solution to that? Meet people who give a shit about you. Who actually care about what happens to you. Who see something in you. Who care that you exist.
People think saying they are there for you means anything. It doesn't. It's not being there. It's not knowing someone. It's bullshit.
There were friends who I was not close to who I feel bad I left, but I had to cut that place out of my life.
Because when everyone thinks you are nothing, no matter what you have done, it makes you think you are nothing.
And that day I reached out, and wasn't worth the call back, I knew I needed to meet one person in my life who understands me and cares(besides my sister who is the best ever).
I started to really see that no one understood the basics of what I was doing(making a career and life). In fact I had nothing to offer them, and really, they had even less to offer me.
I had wasted my life and the proof was I had no one to talk to about anything.
And that day I booked a room and started moving. Knowing I'd rather die anywhere else.
Some more bad shit happened. Other people, closer to me showed how unimportant I was to them. Talking to people became impossible. When I said I was suicidal I heard I don't care, when I said I was working hard to make art, people asked why, when I helped a friend and did all I could do for her I got treated worse than any white asshole, which was the norm for me there.
It was good to know the truth and not get sucked in by people who say they care but are never there for you. My friends didn't even see I was hurting as I was slowly degenerating in front of them. That was what I knew of caring.
I could feel myself dying. I could feel the need for drugs and drink. I could feel the gun not far enough away. And no hope. No one believed in me and my belief, my fire was barely even a pilot light anymore. No art, no life.
And no one had fire. No one cared. No one tried. And they hated me for doing that. For being that. Make movies, make comics, adopt a kid, sell a house, do your dreams for a living, shut up who cares. But even if I sucked at it all I thought I did some good things, shut up who cares. That's the people I knew.
And that was it. That was what was killing me. No one liked art like me. No one was on fire like me. But they are out there. People like that. I believe in that.
I made a promise to myself a promise of survival. Of hope. Of something I never had. There are people out there who feel the same. I just didn't know them. They were out there.
I had a muse for a reason. It was a stand. It was an irredeemable statement I felt on a gut level. Something so stupidly unrelenting about me. A feeling. I didn't know what it was. Maybe a look. No. Something else. And my life was so shitty that the ghost of attraction between me and someone was more than anything I'd felt in many years. So, even to me it seemed really fictional.
But then something was confirmed. There was something. It was there. Some recognition between us. Like we spoke another language. Some secret language. And my frustration was that no one else did.
And it took moving to figure it out.
It was fire. The kind that eats you up inside to do something. To live and love life. To not slow down. Slowing down kills us like it does sharks.
And there it was. I was a shark. And people ten years younger than me were getting married and having babies. No. That shits for afterwards. I need to move. I need to make.
I promised myself I'd never lose my fire again. I promised myself I'd never slow down again until I'm good and fucking done. And the woman I want with me would have to be just as fucking intense.
That was the language. That was what we saw in each other. Fire.
And now I will never see her again. But I won't forget the fire. I won't lose it in me again, so it takes one person in the world to see it. I'll throw gasoline on it and let it explode instead. And I'll find someone to share that with.
The long vacation
I used my savings to move into a long term hotel and put everything I ever own into storage. It was two miles away from the beach cities of south LA.
I went to the beach almost everyday. Made a tradition out of drinking Irish whiskeys and Guinness at sunset while I wrote and tried to figure out what the hell I am doing.
My sister helped me with the move which was really hard, plus I have my cat Oliver and my new pet, given to me by my sister, a ferret named Monkey. I was feeling a little better, but still a little aimless from how quick it all was.
Acting was now a memory. I had worked on writing my comic for more than a year but my life gave me zero motivation to actually do it.
Of course people here are different.
First off everyone was nice. Especially the women. I had said before and no one gave a shit in the Bay Area, but in LA they always treated me the same, really well(even when I was way heavier). But all this time dreaming of moving here, I kind of assumed that I had made that shit up. No. It's true.
At the same time I guess it helps that I don't bother with shallow people so I'm only meeting people who are nice, super intelligent, or super talented, and because I have been lucky, they have usually been all three.
Sure I was alone, but now I didn't feel like a non person. I was more alone where I grew up and no one cared, than I am here. And I was just starting so now I had hope again.
I started taking 2 yoga classes weekly because being an artist isn't a physical profession and truthfully I am going to have to take my clothes off to act at some point so I need everything to get tight. And it's been working better than going to the gym. I've been slimming down for two years(I've lost about 40 pounds or more) and I never wanted to keep any bulk, but I did want muscles and Yogas been the best.
I then started figuring out the new game plan.
The Art Plan
No one really gave a shit about my art or me doing art or anything approaching the curiosity one would have towards art. But I still remembered the art and stories that had inspired me. The artists and actors and writers and directors. To me they were all one thing, creators.
And if there was anything I believed in it is creating things. So, follow my gut and feel it out. Feel everything, embrace myself for all my flaws and whatever I can do. What my true potential is. I went back to my foundations.
I relearned how to sketch. I brought back my lifelong goal to make a science fiction epic that has some sort of intelligent thing to say. I read science articles everyday for more than a year. I made a hundred page wikipedia(only on my computer) of every idea and character and just whittled it down to some realistic structure and then added and subtracted. By the end of a year and a half(I had started this last year) I had a solid ten chapters with beginning middle and end, and promises of what will come in the next volume. I was in love with my characters and started drawing.
I did make it a goal to somehow use going to Morrisoncon, a comic convention in honor of the great comic writer Grant Morrison, as a way to help kick start my comics work. It was more intimate than other conventions, everyone there was creative in some way. Me being shy as hell and never having the pleasure of talking about art with anyone for very long(outside of friends from the comic book store I used to work at a decade ago) it took me a while. I had just really let myself go with these pages, just vomited my art onto those pages.
Art Like Sex
I had tried to force a sort of lust for art in me in order to draw. That perfect feeling of making art(no matter the medium, acting, music, painting, ice skating), where your brain is totally devoted to it like sex. It was in that state I made the pages I show here.
I felt if it was as lustful and done by the gut as possible, I could reach something honest. And my art changed. It became more me.
And then that's when I learned the most wonderful, masked as horrible lesson.
I finally got to see the original art of some of my favorites. And guess what? With all my hard work, all the mental effort I put into these pages, they looked nothing like my idols. Not even the basics were similar. I was crushed. How could I have tried so hard and not make anything that looks like my favorite artists. I sulked back to my room at the hotel I was staying at(where the convention was being held, the Hard Rock in Vegas). I decided I needed to take a good hard look at my stuff before I show anyone, because it clearly didn't do whatever those guys did(look perfect). I took out the pages, looked at them, confused because they still didn't suck. They were just chaos.
But maybe that was me. Maybe that was what I had to accept. I had to accept it to draw the pages, I had to accept it to make the complicated story, to even decide to draw all that shit. To let it just be there in my mind before I draw it. I couldn't hold back.
The next day I showed my favorite artist and he kind of stopped for a second, didn't say anything, then looked at me really seriously and said I really like this. This is really good art. After that I was so happy I was almost crying.
I met other people. Artists. Writers. Movie makers. I saw the fire again. And other people had it.
I needed more.
The Movie Plan
I had momentum. I had hope. And maybe a little more than hope. Maybe this is now reality. So it was time to test it. Stretch the rare luck I just found.
Who knows, maybe it isn't luck. Maybe it's three decades of work.
So I applied to a great acting school. I walked in told them I am going to act whether I have to make a movie myself. I already did that. I just want to be as good as possible. I got in.
It's really intensive and dedicated. I've met the most talented, intelligent people in my life here. Some of them working actors, some like me with experience, but basically an amateur and some who were new to it. But my teachers have pushed us to become real actors.
What I consider real acting, isn't putting on an act, it is seeming to be as natural as possible in front of the camera no matter what you are doing. So I picked this school carefully. It helped that the only training I was familiar with was from David Mamets book True Or False(seriously David fucking Mamet wrote an acting book I read like fifteen years ago). I think he went to the New York version of the same school.
These people had fire. And all my teachers want is to get that out of me. As much as possible. And that's all I want. To let loose with complete abandon. There is a point where you feel so naked but at the same time you don't feel it at all, because you are so in the moment that the emotion is real, and whatever is happening around you doesn't matter at all, just that feeling you have with the other actor.
I've seen people do things that I've only seen only award winning actors do. I'm not there yet, but I've touched it. I always call it make up sex, because its the same satisfying feeling afterwards. But I've noticed that when I have felt it its almost been like losing control, or feeling an imaginary feeling so intense it gives you a physical and emotional reaction. Once I had to act afraid and my face was doing all the work by itself because I was in the moment, not trying to pretend something, just losing control to the feeling. Haven't had sex lately but I'm sure that will be a little more intense.
Anyway, this is by far my favorite learning experience. And I now truly see that there are sort of levels you get to. Things that you can now do. Things you see you can do with just a little more effort, practice, and push from the teachers.
One more thing. I'm not a big fan of authority mainly because most people I met are fucking stupid. But my teachers at this school are so impossibly intelligent and on point second by second I can only wish to one day be that perceptive. They probably have no idea how much I admire them.
And the women...
Yes, the women here are beyond gorgeous. In fact, its weird, because you have to be so talented and driven to do this stuff that looks really don't matter. I'd be offended to reduce any of these women to how they look. They are way beyond that, and now I can really see.
And I have met many women out here with passion and fire. People with that much fire can sort of see it, so we got along. I'm not looking, I'm just waiting for the girl with as much fire as I want(all of it), and while these girls got a lot, I'm not sure if they have enough. Except for one or two who I'd be stupid to ignore, but I'm keeping mum on that, because holy shit, so awesome they sound made up.
I just moved into a nice studio that isn't small and somehow I fit everything in there and still have nice floor space(wooden floors!). The hiking trail two blocks behind my place is the best in LA.(to the left of the sign) That was luck, because this was the only landlord who wasn't a flake. I didn't even know completely where I was moving. Sure it happened to be one of the most famous streets. But I'm within five miles of half the attractions in LA. I have a ten minute drive to get to the valley. I could take Sunset straight to the ocean(the Californians). The best comic store here is like five minutes away, the best 2 theatres are five minutes, or a ten minute walk. Every place you'd ever want to shop is within 15 minutes of my place. Its nuts. The neighborhood is nice and somehow even though I am 2 blocks from the main strip the traffic on my street in front of my apartment isn't so bad.
So I have the science fiction comic almost ready for the proposal stage. I'm working on an 8 page Thought Balloon Man story about letting loose and drawing the science fiction comic, all the drama that was going on in my lonely head that month. It's self contained, but could be used as a transitional chapter in the TBM graphic novel. Which would be about ending that life and starting another, that was always the ending so technically that story is either done, or whatever is happening with me now is the end, I'm rooting for love strangely enough, even though I find it horrifying now.
I'm thinking of writing some new stuff to direct now that I know a bunch of actors. That is technically the next step. Or someone can give me money to make a Brooks Laughton movie. Believe me I only hinted at about a quarter of where I was going with that. The screenplay I got a third of the way through had almost none of the stuff in my shorts or that commercial(that stuff was all later in the story).
Anyway, I'm happy. And I'm just starting.