How can you tell if anything will ever come of it? How can you endure the waiting for someone else to, well, recognize you? How can you stand the not knowing?
People say no one read books anymore. There are just too many temptations that seem more fun than black and white text. Nevertheless, books are coming out endlessly, and they are being loved by all the bookworms and inspiration seekers, whether they read analog or electronic.
One of the strong trends in the book market is books somewhere in between self-help and biography. Novelization of the author’s life story and inspiration through real anecdotes are noticeable in the style, especially by women authors. The plots are quite similar; the heroin starts out young and strong, but fails early on. Their dream is only the thing that keeps her going, but it is hard in the real world. No one recognizes her hard work, there’s no money in it, and the dream fades. She is in conflict between her morals and short fame. And… dun dun dun—at the end, the heroin realizes that she has to be who she is no matter what, has to trust in herself. The book ends with hopes, dreams, and success. Although I’m generalizing these plots, I can really relate to stories like this and feel strength after reading them.
Someday, Someday, Maybe: A Novel by Lauren Graham is the story of one of those hard-working actress wannabes in New York City, struggling to get a job. It’s a novelization of her own story in the early 90s. Lauren Graham is well known as Lorelei from Gilmore Girls, one of my favorite TV shows. It interested me at first because it was written by one of my favorite actresses, but there’s also something really refreshing about her writing. Recently she was on one of the late night talk shows and described herself as having the lowest self-esteem in show business, which makes her so interesting and genuine.
This book takes place in 1994. It’s a story of Franny, a 20-something actress in NYC who is trying to make it in show business. She’s unusually tall, talks fast, has a sense of humor, and is one-of-a-kind. She’s gets small gigs like TV commercials from time to time, but has to work night shifts to pay the rent. She shares an apartment in Brooklyn with Jane, her best friend, and Dan, a sci-fi screenwriter. Just like the author, Franny has a low self-esteem. She constantly asks ‘Am I good enough?’
One night when Franny gets back from an exciting meeting with her first agent, she runs into Everett. She is Dan’s perfect girlfriend who has a ‘real’ job in the ‘real’ world. Here’s the part where she asks Franny what it’s like to live in uncertainty:
“I know he works hard, as hard as if he had a real job, but, how do you know? How can you tell if anything will ever come of it? How can you endure the waiting for someone else to, well, recognize you? How can you stand the not knowing?”
“How do you know when it’s time to give up? I mean, in Dan’s case, no one is telling him no, exactly, and like I said, I know he works hard, but no one’s saying yes either. It’s all sort of a, a vacuum, isn’t it?”
These are the very questions I’ve been asking myself over the years. It’s great to follow my dreams and all, but what about the ‘real’ world? Sometimes enough is enough, but when do we call it quits?
Life is an art of balance. Balancing work, personal life, dreams, reality, money, fun, and all the other mysterious aspects. We have to consider everything, we’ll fall otherwise. For people who are trying to make it in creative careers, this fine line between dream and reality gets blurry easily. They can’t quit too early, but it also feels silly to hold on for too long. When do you know it’s time to move on, before you empty all of your energy and resources? How can we know?
The bottom line is, there’s no definite answer. Even if your agent, boss, business-partner, or whoever other than yourself swears that they have your back and tries everything they can to put you on the map, you can’t blame them for the lack of success in your life. The only thing we can be certain of in life is what we believe, in what we know in our gut to be true. Our gut isn’t always right, oh I know that. But it is the only true measure we can trust.
So back to Franny. She eventually gets offered a part in a zombie movie with partial nudity, real money, in a real movie, but she declines the role after thinking long and hard about it. She decided that nudity wasn’t for her, even if for the ‘real’ movie.
The book ends with the indication of a happy ending with a tint of romance. It wouldn’t be a good book without that. Who would want to read a book about someone constantly failing and never bouncing back? Anyway, Franny finally gets a good agent who understands her personality, and she auditions for a ‘real’ acting job in LA. The author leaves Franny’s future in our imagination.
In the end, she made it by believing in herself. “Believe in yourself” might be a cliché, but it is the only way to survive in this tough world.
To all of you who are asking, doubting, and dreaming: give yourself a real chance to be out there. Believe in your talent. Trust your judgment. And never stop dreaming.