First Person: Liz Breen on Making It Happen
It should tell you a lot that I call this post, “What to Do When You’re Old.” I’m sure the editor will give will give it a more enticing/less depressing title, but I figured I could at least lay it out on the table once you actually start reading.
I jest. Sort of. It was only about two weeks ago that I graduated from Boston University, and maybe I am still in shock. School, over. Classes, over. Imposed structure, pretty much over. I was fortunate enough to attend a university that taught me how to use a camera, edit captured footage, even how to write a halfway decent story, but I know that type of learning is a lifelong endeavor.
That is the challenge of working in the film and television industry: It is a medium that feeds off pop culture and current events and utilizes ever-changing technology. The second challenge, particularly for recent grads like me, is that potential employers know you still have a lot to learn, so the “dream job” quickly becomes the job that pays you in real money.
I am lucky. I have a job that pays real, American dollars working for a company whose vision I really support and with people who truly care about my opinion. I help create promotions and marketing campaigns for shows and company-related events. I am learning to flex my writing muscles in new ways and enjoy brainstorming tags and slogans.
However, although my intrigue lies currently with promotional writing, my heart will always remain with fictional writing – short films, features, even the occasional short story. This, dear readers, is where the lesson lies. (I knew I would get to it eventually.) Your first jobs probably aren’t going to be what you want to be doing for the rest of your life. Hell, some may not be even in the field that you ultimately want to work in. So it’s up to you to grow yourself professionally outside of those initial jobs, to find opportunities to pursue what you really love, not just what may pay the bills.
And don’t worry; I am practicing what I preach. Although I am currently waking up in the morning excited to go to work, I know that I can’t leave work every day, go home and sit on the couch. I certainly can’t let myself fall behind on my writing, especially when it is something that brings me such joy.
I am currently producing a web series with a talented group of friends from college, and I most recently obtained a freelance writing position with a newly-expanded website. I also try to take time every day to work on my own personal stories, things that I may never want to share with anyone, but that bring me happiness and allow me to explore characters or subjects that interest me.
The truth of the matter is, we all need to pay the bills, but we also all have hopes and dreams that we can’t let disappear from our lives. If you’re a writer, write… no matter what your business card says. If you’re a director, get together with a writer and direct something. Not all paths to success are linear. In fact, most aren’t. If you can’t walk in through the front door, look for that open window. Or maybe even pick the lock on that front door if necessary.
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