I have planned my escape from Los Angeles, California, about a hundred thousand times.
Unfortunately, I'm not really a details kind of guy, so even though I've planned it and re-planned it, it's all still a little vague. I know how it starts, certainly. It starts with whatever is driving me craziest about my job that week. A pitch that didn't go well. A project that didn't get off the ground. A job that I didn't get.
And right then and there, I decide that I have HAD IT. Whatever the indignity in question happens to be, it is A BRIDGE TOO FAR, GOOD SIR. And so GOOD DAY!
Then I have a long talk with my wife, and we both decide that Los Angeles, and the entire entertainment industry, should be burned to the ground, but because we can't do that, we agree to get as far away from it as possible, as IF it were being burned to the ground.
I send my team of lawyers, representatives, hair and makeup people, etc., a professional, courteous letter, telling them all that I am leaving the entertainment industry forever, because I am terrible, and it is terrible. However, I am terrible for tragic, artistic reasons, and it is terrible because it is stupid and it has a stupid face and/or butt.
And then this is where it gets a little vague. From there we...Move somewhere? Do something else? Live off the land? Banjo isn't exactly barnyard dog material. You're thinking of his cousin, Bingo.
Oh sure, I throw target locations around like "Portland," "Austin," and "Mom's house." And I have notions that I could teach, or write anything else besides screenplays, or just, you know, eat ramen and watch TV. But only that third option is really appealing.
Now I want ramen.
Anyway. Eventually, the ironic-finger-quotes "plan" sort of recedes into the background, and I go about my business, until the next time that my silly business throws a curveball my way. And then, the OUTRAGE MACHINE ROARS TO LIFE AGAIN!
"FUUUUUUCK THIS! I'M LEAVING FOREVER! LINE UP TO KISS EVERY SQUARE INCH OF MY ASS, HOLLYWOOD! I MAY BE LEAVING WITH MY TAIL TUCKED BETWEEN MY LEGS, BUT FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, YOU MADE 'BATTLESHIP'! ALSO, I'M SHOUTING BECAUSE I'M VERY FAR AWAY!"
I wish I could say I was only like this with my career, but the sad truth of it is, the Nuclear Option is my go-to coping mechanism.
If somebody doesn't respond to a tweet? I AM TELLING EVERYONE ON TWITTER TO FUCK OFF AND ERASING MY ACCOUNT.
If nobody likes this week's essay? I WILL NEVER WRITE AN ESSAY AGAIN AND ALTHOUGH THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY AFFECT ON THE WORLD WHATSOEVER...TAKE THAT! YEAH! CAGAN'D!
I'm like a supervillain in a Bond movie, only, instead of threatening to blow up the world, I threaten to blow up myself.
"What's your plan, Goldcagan?"
"Well, Mister Bond, as you know, my death laser satellite is circling the Earth's as we speak. And if you do not get every nation in the world to give me $100 billion, I will aim that laser directly...At my own headquarters."
"You monster! How could you- Wait. What?"
"You heard me. I will burn my headquarters to the ground. I mean, I won't be there, I'll be in, like Portland or Austin or my mom's house or something. But IT WILL BURN TO THE GROUND! Because I am obviously a TERRIBLE SUPERVILLAIN!"
"I'm not even sure how I'm supposed to respond."
"JUST GET OUT. GO. NO, NOT THAT WAY, THAT'S WHERE I KEEP THE LIONSHARKS."
What kind of egomaniacal dipshit am I that I think that taking myself out of the equation is a punishment to anyone else? "No! Cagan! Come back! If there's one thing Los Angeles needs, it's an embittered screenwriter!" "Oh god! The idea of Twitter without Cagan? I can't rend my garment violently enough!" "No essay? I guess I'll do literally anything else BUT I WON'T LIKE IT!"
But, of course, I'm not thinking about other people's reactions, I'm just thinking about drawing a line in the sand, and then running away before I can see if anyone's bothered to cross it.
Because, in reality, I don't want to face my problems. I don't want to try to figure out what I did wrong, I don't want to learn anything, and I don't want to deal with consequences. I blew that pitch because I wasn't prepared. That tweet could have been worded better. And I really shouldn't write these essays at 2:04 in the morning.
I need to start making better ultimatums, or one day, I am going to burn my evil headquarters to the ground.
So let me give it a shot.
The next time something doesn't go right with my career, I'm going to remember that I'm in an industry that tops the Forbes Top 100 Most Capricious Industries, which is a fact as long as you don't look it up.
The next time a tweet doesn't go over well, I'm going to...I'm going to really have to reassess my priorities as a human being, because, I mean, Jesus. It's Twitter.
And if people don't like this essay? If people don't like ANYTHING I write?
Then I need to write more things. and be better at doing it. Because that's the biggest problem with the Nuclear Option. It just destroys. Destroying stuff is easy. And fun. And it makes a great noise. But it leaves you with nothing.
I don't want nothing.
From herein, I'm choosing the Maker Option.
And if I go back on my word, and there's a very good chance that will happen, I will set my computer on fire, and live at the bottom of the ocean. In my evil headquarters. With my wife, my lionsharks, my ramen, and my dog.
And this time, I MEAN it.