Anyone else would have embraced the opportunity presented: a room full of industry people actively hoping to form a network of writers, directors, producers, actors and more. Lovely setting. Early enough to not be confused with clubbing.
Anyone would have taken the opportunity to put out a hand and make some introductions. Anyone except me. Instead I stood in that crowded room full of well-meaning, connected people and fought back tears of frustration.
I simply lack the capacity to approach someone and make small talk. I lack the imagination (which bodes poorly for a writing career) to make my answer to, “What are you doing now?” sound interesting.
“I want to…”
“I’m hoping to…”
“I’m thinking about…”
All of these seemed to be conversation killers the few times I actually engaged.
I knew about this event when I quit my job in April. Not so secretly, I thought networking might finally be possible for me—out of necessity, if nothing else. I allowed myself to hope that the leap I took was a leap into this pond – that I’d feel less like a total outsider. This event would prove that the chance I took was based on the belief that real opportunity was right around the corner. Foolish.
Instead, that panicked, “Oh God, what am I doing here?” feeling was followed immediately by its twin sisters: “You are never going to make it in this industry if you can’t talk to decision-makers” and “these people want to be interested in you, and you can’t make it happen—good luck getting the people who don’t care to listen.”
I walked in telling myself to be confident and bold. I internally nattered to myself that smiling would invite people into my orbit. Last time I read a freakin’ self-help guide.
Apparently the “F**k you” on my forehead is not limited to single, dateable men. It extends to all people because no amount of joker-like smiling was going to tempt someone into anything even vaguely resembling my orbit. In fact, I’m fairly certain I actually repelled people.
I tried the Bridget Jones approach, though stopped short of actually bringing up Chechnya. I suppose on the mortification scale I did rather better than Bridget as I did not make an embarrassingly bad speech, nor did I go home with a womanizing man named Daniel. Also, I did avoid asking any important writer types for the loo by standing in the corner hiding behind my smartphone. God bless Twitter.
I might have oozed intellect if it weren’t for my pathetic attempts to discuss new media and … the weather.
Perhaps, in the end, I am far better suited for solo manifesto writing in a cabin than I’ll ever be as a screenwriter in Hollywood (though let’s substitute beach for mountains, please). Can you picture me in a writers’ room? Disaster. I’d have to set my chair up behind the white board.
I live and want to work in a town entirely based on relationships—the one thing I do not seek.
Maybe I should have mentioned Chechnya?