Last week, I had the most exceptional time in New Orleans, visiting the town I briefly called home and having the honor of being a groomsman in the best wedding I’ve ever been to. The trip couldn’t have been any better. Except for one thing.
Grabbing a cab from the airport to a friend’s French Quarter apartment we were staying in, we had perhaps the worst driver I’ve ever experienced. He was super aggressive, with a Post-It note over the speedometer so we couldn’t see how fast he was going, and he took us to the wrong address then yelled at us for his mistake. After those hiccups, to our great relief we finally got to the apartment. I paid, and we went to meet our friend — which is when I realized I left my bag in the cab. I searched up Orleans Street past Bourbon, but he was gone. Long gone, with my bag.
Luckily it was just my carry-on, and we had fatefully decided (after some debate) not to bring a computer or tablet. So no actual valuables were taken. This is still devastating to me, though. As somebody who owns almost nothing of any actual value, I place great importance on things of emotional, sentimental, or intellectual value. And this bag was chock-full of intellectual value.
In it was a draft of my screenplay, marked up with notes for the next revision. Also gone is the notebook with all of my notes for that screenplay, going back nearly a year, along with all the progress I had made while writing for the entire flight to New Orleans. A year’s worth of work, gone.
I’ve spent the last two weeks battling Louis Armstrong International Airport’s ground transportation office, the New Orleans Taxicab & For Hire Bureau, and the cab company itself, New Orleans Carriage Cab. The cab company won’t speak to me, the airport’s ground transportation office doesn’t answer the phone and won’t call me back, and the taxicab bureau is just sitting around waiting for the bag to magically appear.
I doubt I will ever see that bag again.
Here is what worries me: I have a long history of learning new things and giving up about a year into the project — right around when I learn enough to know how far I have to go before any kind of mastery. I begin to despair at the long journey ahead. I fear I’m at that point with this, and I don’t want to be. Right now, I’ve written one short and three mediocre drafts of a full-length adaptation. Have you read a real screenplay, like for Jackie or Captain Fantastic? They’re really good! That little voice in my head — the one each writer or artist has, the one that says, “Why are you even bothering with this? Leave it to the pros, you’re no good” — that guy is relentless right now. And now I’ve hit a major stumbling block.
I want to keep writing. I have the files for my latest draft, of course, but without any of my notes for the latest revision or any of the work and snippets I’ve done throughout the project, where do I even start?
I also lost my personal journal, which was maybe 20 pages from completion. (I have all of my journals going back to when I was 15 — this would be the only one missing.) My notebooks for another full-length I’ve just begun working on and all of my short scripts disappeared with the bag as well.
For the last week, I’ve come home and tried to begin writing, according to that routing I developed last year: Get up, run, go to work, come home from work, write, eat, sleep, repeat. But each night, I’ve had no idea where to begin.
I have no idea what kind of help or support I need to get back into it, but writing is my second-favorite activity (behind running), and discovering screenwriting last year gave me an outlet that I’ve enjoyed more than any before. The adapted screenplay I was working on is worth, oh, say $40,000. Even if I never make that — even if I never sell one at all — I don’t want to stop.