Making peace with the long way round.
I’m going to be a comedy writer-director. It’s nice to have such a clear goal, and to know that I’m making steady progress towards it every week.
But like for many people, that clarity only came in the last year, after the pandemic yanked me off the treadmill I’d been on for most of my adult life. And now, everything seems so… obvious. Work part-time! Write scripts! Film stuff! Of course that’s what I need to do. And although I’m happy with the progress I’m now making, I can’t shake the quiet voice of regret in the back of my head:
Where would I be now, if I had realised all of this earlier?
Even though making narrative comedy was always the dream, I spent a decade putting most of my creative energy into stand-up. (I thought if I just got good enough, then mystical industry people would automatically come knocking…) But when I decided to step away from it, I was surprised at the sense of relief I felt. I enjoyed it, but I never really loved it in the way that I heard other people describe it — that feeling of wanting to be on stage as much as possible.
And although a part of me always knew that, I just ignored it, because I liked the feeling of making progress — even if it was towards the wrong thing.
But there are two things that I need to remind myself of here.
One: there’s nothing I can do about it now, short of dedicating my life to inventing time travel so that I could go back and course correct. (And even then: I’m either only fixing an alternate version of myself or creating a bunch of paradoxes that I’ll have to reconcile somehow…)
And two: I’m only where I am now because of the journey that I took to get here. It’s only because of stand-up that I learned how to write jokes. How I met so many of the people that I’m excited to collaborate with in the future. How I learned to put myself in my work, and explore the ideas that I want to write about. (My current sitcom is loosely based on some of the ideas from my last Fringe show; my next one is inspired by the research I did for my first one, all the way back in 2015.)
In other words: we can’t connect the dots looking forward. So as long as we’re moving in the right direction, I guess we can only be grateful for the journey that got us here.