New Job, Same Me


A week after my last post, I started a new job at a documentary film company working on a film series about immigration policy. Since 2001, the filmmakers have shot over 1400 hours of behind-the-scenes footage in Washington DC as a concerned, bi-partisan group of Senators, staffers, lobbyists, and advocates tried to push through Comprehensive Immigration Reform. By the end of the series, called My American Dream: How Democracy Works Now, movement toward an overhaul of the nation's immigration system has been soundly thwarted by 9/11 and the overwhelmingly anti-immigrant sentiment left in its wake.

It's a great gig, allowing me to concretize my filmmaking in a way that film school didn't, while also paying the bills. But new jobs always have a way of destabilizing everything else in your life. The first couple of weeks I was sleeping six hours a night so that I could get up early and write from 4-7AM (which turned into 5-7:30AM, then 6-7:30AM and an hour stolen on the subway ride to work), but I felt like such a zombie. So last week I let myself sleep in most of the week and haven't spent time with my characters in over a week now. At the moment, I'm deep in the throes of major writer's guilt.

I'm so blessed for the opportunity, don't get me wrong, but I mos def need to have a draft of my book done in the next couple of months. I have my Hedgebrook residency coming up in October and I've finally decided to go back to film school in the fall (the job is a six-month gig), so I have a bunch of things pulling me in about ten different directions.

So what I really want to impart today is the importance of staying focused on your goals. No matter what jobs, friends, or lovers come and go, you will always be left with yourself and what you're striving for in the world. If you concede those goals to your job, friends, or lovers, you will never reach them. But if you remain stubborn, tenacious, and ambitious, doing whatever it takes to get there, then you will. Even I, who dares to write and finds much less time even to blog, will get there if I keep pushing. I can sleep when the book is done. I can dance then too. And I hope that this is the last time I have to work for anyone other than myself.

By the way, I am finally finishing up Dreams from my Father. After devouring the first 300 pages in a few days, I have been savoring the last hundred or so pages, like slow sipping an aged wine, for the past month. I suppose I just like Barack in Kenya, identify with that same shift in consciousness that hits me each time I return to Nigeria. Brilliant writer, that man is.

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