How I spent my summer by Amy Senger


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”

~ A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

Talk about timelessness of good writing. Somehow, with pitch-perfect lucidity, Charles Dickens over a century ago eloquently described my summer.

Starting with leaving DC. In the weeks leading up to our departure, Steve and I had some of the most tempestuous showdowns I’ve ever endured, including a 5-hour fight (five f***ing hours) that ended with me trying to hit him with a tin bucket of dirt and him catching it and dumping it on my head. I can’t even write those lines without laughing, but at the time, it was intense and devoid of any humor whatsoever.

I wanted to leave and I didn’t. DC was home for me. But if you’ve ever tried to fill up on tofu or non-meat substitute when all you’re craving is a hamburger, no matter how much “toburger” you consume, it just doesn’t cut it.

I needed a solid break from everything I was trying to fill up on that wasn’t fulfilling me. So I moved 3,000 miles across the country to Southern California to pursue screenwriting and a different way of life. And I found a happiness that I haven’t felt in a long time.

I took up surfing and after at least 50 (maybe it was 100 times) falling down, I finally rode a wave. Anyone who has ever surfed knows that first wave you ride makes all the times falling down worth it.

I needed surfing. It’s been my salvation. After struggling to get off Adderall for the past two years I finally cut the cord. I needed something to replace the mental and physical “stamina” and “focus” Adderall gave me and I found that in surfing. When I’m in the water, I find that edge I’m looking for, and afterwards, I have a sense of peace and clarity of mind Adderall never gave me.

And I’ve been writing, a lot. I completed the first draft of a second screenplay and finished a 10-week Advanced Screenwriting class at UCLA, rewriting my first screenplay and learning the things you won’t find in any screenwriting book. Which has been the best part of my summer and the worst.

No matter how much I love writing, no matter how much I write, no matter how many people read what I’ve written and say they love it, I still have my moments of doubt when I ask myself, What the hell are you doing?  Which is really code for, How far are you willing to go to make this happen, to make this a career and not just an interest and indulgence?

The answer is always the same. Pretty far. This summer I came to the conclusion that this is what I want to do, this is the life I want, which is a pretty big pivot.

So if you ask me to describe my summer, instead of quoting Dickens, I’ll sum it up with one word: gnarly.

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