I went to film school in Tallahassee, Florida. Not exactly a hotbed of film industry activity. In fact, the film school was pretty self-aware about that. In order to give us a few months’ jump on all of the other matriculating film school students across the country, they assigned us an additional summer’s-worth of classes and kicked us out the door in December of what would be our senior year.
The not-yet-husb, of course, had even more ambitious plans for himself. Our school had an internship program, and he planned to finish his last semester in Los Angeles, finding fame and fortune and counting pages and doing precision stapling work as an intern.
I liked the not-yet-husb. I wasn’t dying for another soupy-hot autumn in the Florida panhandle. So I decided to tag along.
We arrived in LA in October and promptly found internships. We did a lot of script coverage (which is like book reports for grown-ups), photocopying, and counting of pages, which I still do, to this day—count every page of every script before it leaves my hands.
After six weeks, our internships wrapped up and we returned to Tallahassee, where we put on our caps and gowns (well, I didn’t–I actually slept through graduation (ironically, after staying up way too late at a party talking to a guy named Matthew—who, 7.5 years later, would become my literary agent)) and were promptly graduated.
Looking back, seeing how eager we were to get out of college and get on with our lives, I have just three words for myself:
ARE YOU NUTS?
First of all, there’s no prime hiring season. Film school grads aren’t scooped up the second they graduate. Jobs are filled when they open up, which is all year, and having lived in LA for an extra couple of months doesn’t do you much good.
Second of all, I have my whole life to go to work. What I don’t have is cheap and easy access to lots of information on topics that interest me. Well, I have the internet, but it’s not the same.
And I don’t have crazy fun football games to attend, even though it’s soupy-hot and a sunburn is 100% guaranteed.
Look, hard work is great. I’m a big fan. And pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps is also great. I’m all for it.
But everything has to come in its own time, and I wish I had taken a little bit of extra time to explore the relatively carefree life of an undergrad, surrounded by friends, on a beautiful campus, in a city where apartments don’t rent for 2/3 of your starting salary.
So that’s my reflection on graduation. My advice to college students is to stay a steady course, but for heaven’s sake, enjoy your time in school. Take classes in subjects that interest you! Hang out. Go to football games. Look around. And try to remember that life isn’t always going to be this way.
(This may sound like I have regrets, but I don’t. How can I regret the things that changed me into who I am today? If I hadn’t hurried out of school, I probably wouldn’t have spent that evening talking to Agent M. I wouldn’t be married to the husb. I wouldn’t have written Bad Girls Don’t Die. So it’s not regret… it’s just a sort of marveling that I was in such a hurry.)