The cast of the movie that was the inspiration to what I’ve been doing for the past eight years. Image courtesy of movie.movieggr.com
HOW A FILM THAT WAS BASED ON A HIT BROADWAY MUSICAL INSPIRED ME TO CHANGE MY LIFE’S DIRECTION
Remember when you were a kid and people asked you this question:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I’m sure that youngsters replied the expected things: doctor, lawyer, teacher, fireman, policeman, or a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers (man, they sure need people!)
During those formative years, whenever I was asked that question I always answered writer as I seemed to show a knack for the written word at an early age, like when I ghostwrote a story told by a girl at this summer camp I was in at age eight or when I won an essay contest given by the Daughters of the American Revolution while in 5th grade.
Although I did take a beginning journalism class and a few creative writing courses in college, and wrote a few pieces for my college marching band’s newsletter, save for keeping a journal I didn’t really know how to make a living out of writing as I opted for education and working with young people, which was/is the family business.
After around fifteen years of frustration, disillusion, and disappointment, it became crystal clear that working with kids was ultimately not for me.
The interesting art of all this was that during the time I was working at schools – and even before that – ideas for books kept popping into my head. I particularly remember while in the 10th grade an idea to write a book called “Oh Boy!” about my school’s marching band.
I didn’t go through with it, however, writing being a mere hobby for me until one day in early September, 2006 (gee, has it been ten years already?)
The official music video to “Seasons of Love” from Rent, courtesy of YouTube.com
It was on a Sunday; I was watching one of the cable channels – I think it was Starz – when the movie Rent, based on the Broadway musical, aired.
As I was watching those eight people singing about 525,600 minutes and pursuing their passions in film making, music, dance, and performance art while dealing with poverty, drug addiction, relationships, and AIDS, something happened…
The movie’s story line, combined with the songs and the fact that the characters were around my age, making it able for me to relate, moved me with an intensity so pronounced that I found myself crying halfway through the film.
This wasn’t a just-a-couple-of-tears crying; this was a bawling, putting-my-head-in-a-pillow kind of sob, something I hadn’t done since I was single-digit age as being a movie buff, Rent affected me as no other movie ever had.
It was a combination of the issues pertaining to my Generation X that was a big factor in why that movie affected me so.
Then there were the songs…
Not only did the beauty of “Seasons of Love”, “Will I?”, “I’ll Cover You”, “What You Own”, “La Vie Boheme” and the rest of the soundtrack move me to tears, they also served as an inspiration.
As I watched the Roger character sing about his “One Song Glory” and the rest of the cast musically ponder about having “No Day But Today”, the message came to me like a first grade reading book:
Be yourself, be proud of being yourself, and don’t put off following your dreams or passion.
Whatever you are going to do, do it NOW – or forever wish you had.
A good shot of the “Rent” movie cast; six of them were in the original Broadway production. Photo courtesy of 100musical.com
It was that message that I took to heart, especially when it became clear that a career in education and working with kids was ultimately going to result in failure – which it pretty much did as about a year and a half after seeing Rent, after some frustrating last straw experiences at an after school gig that were the latest of several bad episodes the previous few years, I had finally had enough of doing something that I was less than successful at.
And I was sick and tired of being miserable as inspired by Rent and its message, I quit that after school gig and started to pursue a life in writing once and for all.
Being forty years old when that went down and less than a year short of my 50th birthday now, I reckoned that since my life – according to the American male life span – is a little more than half over, if I was going to make a career out of writing and being published, I need to do that RIGHT NOW.
Which is why I’ve been blogging and working on my Asperger’s experiences book, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, ever since.
Though I haven’t achieved millionaire best-seller status ala J.K.Rowling, and I have next to nothing in the bank some of the time, my life in writing has seen some success as I spent a total of seven years posting sports articles for Bleacher Report.com and the Fansided network, plus serving as editor of SoCalSportsHub.com for a time before starting SoCal Sports Annals, my own sports fan blog/site, in January of 2015.
Here’s the link to that site: http://SoCalSportsAnnals.Wordpress.com
Not to mention having this blog for the past two and a half years after posting articles on other sites.
And though I still live a sort-of bohemian lifestyle, I’ve even gotten a couple of paychecks for my writing.
As for my choice of work being lucrative, I have faith that the financial compensation will come in due time.
I think it’s safe to say that writing – online and elsewhere – has proved to be something that I enjoy as even during the “dark” days, I was told by more than one person that I was good at it.
I also believe that I have God and Jonathan Larson, who wrote Rent and tragically died just before its Broadway debut in 1996, to thank for inspiring me to pursue what I suppose I’m destined to do.
“No Day But Today” indeed; I think that suns it up.
A poster from the 2005 film version of the Tony award-winning Broadway musical. Image courtesy of jirashimosu.blogspot.com