I absolutely abhor the word patience.
Every single person who went through this business has come out telling me the same thing.
In this business, and especially in new media, the ground is ever-shifting, ever-changing — remember how I said that the web series is dying and something new needs to rise? Well, I was, as it turns out, right (it’s true! I’m smart!). Because something new is rising. I’ll give you an example — Bannen Way is a show that was funded by Sony for one million dollars — it looks amazing, it can compete with the pros and it’s been written about everywhere. It’s what I said needed to happen. And it lit a small fire under me. Do you know why? Because I want to create the show that changes everything. I want to innovate. I want to be the creator of the blockbuster web show. Or, really, blockbuster anything. I am extremely, utterly, unabashedly competitive, just as I’m sure most people in my field are. I don’t want to just create something, I want to create something fantastic, I want everyone to watch it, everyone to love it, I want to win.
I don’t think Bannen Way is the show that’ll change everything. I think it’s a step in the right direction. We have a show that we think could change things — especially if Bannen Way succeeds (I say with teeth gritted, grudgingly admitting that their success is my success) and we build on that. But working in this business, trying to succeed in this business, is a lot like building a house with a trout. It takes a very long time.
It takes forever to get anything moving. And I understand. We’re asking for a lot of money, a lot of trust, a lot of new ideas in an economy that’s faintly reminiscent of a baby bear trying to balance on a giant ball — unstable is the word. I get it. But I’m tired of lunches and phone calls and brainstorming sessions and people saying, great idea, good luck! And yet, I understand it. Because this is how it works.
It’s easy to be frustrated but hard to get mad. It’s easy to get frustrated when you wait 6 months for an agent to return your email. It’s easy to get frustrated when people seem extremely excited and mysteriously disappear. It’s easy to get frustrated when you look at the future, at all the pins you’ve carefully lined up, and realize how easily it is for them all to fall over and die. But it’s hard to get mad when patience pays off. It’s hard to get mad when our reputation precedes us without us realizing it. It’s hard to get mad when people listen to our crazy ideas as if we know what we’re doing (we do, it’s just, you know, weird that people think so) because of what we’ve already created. It’s hard to get mad when I think about the two paths I could have taken — this one, and just going to LA without any money and a dream in my heart. Maybe I would’ve gotten further. Maybe. Or maybe I would’ve been a low-level writer on Sister Sister. The point is that, in many ways, this business is like slowly building a house with a trout. At first, you don’t see any rewards — at first, it’s just a bunch of wood and mutilated trout. But then, you start to see a wall, and then two walls, and then people start recognizing you as that guy who built that house with a trout, and they start visiting you, and hiring you because, damn, forget the fish, imagine what you can do with a hammer? So I patiently hammer (or trout), I bite my tongue and hammer and hammer and trout and hammer and try to learn…
It’s hard to stay patient when I feel like we’re in a race to succeed. I know your comments will be that we’re all in on this together, that one of our successes means a success for everyone and I completely agree. But as you write the comment you’re surely thinking the same thing I am — one of us succeeding is all of us succeeding, but man, do I ever wish I succeed before any of you. I’m currently waiting to hear from no less than 10 different people at 10 different companies who can provide me with something that leads me further in my quest. This could take anywhere from one week to 10 years. It could also never happen at all.
You want to win. I want to win. If we could all win together, that’d be great too (if we can cross the finish line at the same time. But maybe with me one step ahead. What?! I told you, I’m competitive!) But it’s hard to be patient when the potential for failure is as great as the potential for success. And then, just then, I think of one of my mentors, Carla Zilbersmith — I’ve mentioned her several times now, but she’s worth mentioning again. She is a fantastic Jazz musician, actress, writer and she has Lou Gherig’s Disease. One of the first things she said to me was that what ALS made her realize was that, yes, she always wanted to be a famous jazz musician. A famous actress. And yes, she never had the chance to fully realize her goals, but, in the end, after all is said and done, it’s the road there that makes it worth it. It’s the fighting like a dog to get what you want, it’s the creating of something you love, it’s the turning-your-kitchen-into-a-bedroom for a joke, it’s the laughter when people get the joke, it’s the rush when people love what you do, and the joy of working with people you love that you realize that, in the end, rushing to succeed is all well and good, but you have to enjoy it too. You have to stop and breath and laugh and appreciate what you’re doing and smile and have…
Because in the end, win or lose, it’s the story and the experience of making an entire house with a trout-hammer that’s important. Nothing else.
I just have to keep reminding myself of that.
I especially have to keep reminding my bank account of that.
But mostly, I’ll remind any of you out there who are starting up on the same path as me. It’s going to be maddeningly frustrating, it’ll be slow, it’ll be hard, it’ll be feel impossible but if you want to succeed, you have to love it and you have to be…