There was a fine white mist at the foot of the Santa Monica mountains as I biked up the path early this morning - my last bike ride on the beach as a resident of Venice: Tater and I are moving to the suburban wilds of North Hollywood tomorrow. It'll be quite a change, as I've lived in Venice for 23 years, but as we're trading a small two bedroom apartment in the over-traversed epicenter of West Side hipsterism for a three-bedroom house with yard and garage, etc. in a charming, quiet neighborhood... Well, I bought a bike rack for the car. I'll happily trek out here once a week.
Seems perfectly synchronistic that Living the Romantic Comedy is celebrating its tenth anniversary this weekend - end of an era, and all that - though not end, I hasten to clarify: I intend to keep blogging, for as long as it's still fun. But the blogger's landscape has certainly changed since I first moved into this neighborhood, ten years ago.
In June, 2005, Facebook wasn't yet as ubiquitous and Twitter didn't exist, let alone all the other platforms. And though I was late to a party that was still going strong - at the time, you could tell someone you had a blog without getting an eye-roll in response - it was a heady, stimulating community to join, especially in screenwriting site circles. These days, to have an active blog makes you feel a little... quaint. It's a bit like writing in longhand and sending an actual letter.
The most exciting aspect of it, inarguably, was and still is getting a response. These days we're all used to being liked, shared, favorited, and retweeted, but back then it was a more novel experience to blather on about something online, and suddenly get agreement, or disagreement about it from a total stranger. By the time Living RomCom was going strong, it wasn't uncommon for me to get 25-35 comments on a given post. That's astonishing, then and now.
The essential experience - reflected for me in the title of the blog - has been of growing up in public (I like to think I'm still growing), and when I looked back, digging up things to re-post this month, I saw all manner of momentous events annotated here: In my very first post, I was wondering how to write a dating site profile, and over the course of a decade, after seeking romance in all the wrong and nearly-right places, I found true love in my third and final wife; America elected its first president of color; my first novel sold to a major publishing house; and my beloved father passed away.
What I hadn't quite foreseen was a major sea change in my genre of choice. No, the romantic comedy is not dead, as I've exhaustively discussed in these pages, but in the past few years, a certain kind of formulaic chick flick (I call it the Career Girl Gets Alpha Guy movie) has finally lost its audience. I myself had dutifully supported the so-called formula of the traditional romantic comedy, but I lobbied fiercely here for more progressive fare.
One of the things that keeps me blogging about the genre, in fact, is that the rom-com seems to be morphing into something newly relatable, as such hits as Silver Linings Playbook and Her have demonstrated. I'll go out on a very short limb now to declare that when Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer's Trainwreck (which I did notes on for Universal) comes out in a few weeks and makes millions, you're suddenly going to hear - from the same people who danced on the rom-com's grave last year - that "romantic comedy is back!"
Such is the ever-cyclical nature of the industry. Meanwhile, what truly makes the blogging practice worthwhile continues to be the people I come in contact with by doing it, from my first-ever commenter Caroline Ferguson to the blog's most stalwart fan E.C. Henry. I'm amazed and gratified to talk with not just friends, but folks from all over the world on a weekly basis.
Probably the most humbling of such encounters occurred when a former consult client living in Eastern Europe informed me that having read a certain Living Rom-Com post had helped her to make a major life decision about when and how to have a baby. Her child is over a year old now, and the idea that something I wrote on this blog could turn me into a sort of cyber-godfather fills me with awe.
That's the thing, I guess: What I've mostly learned here is that when you write something and offer it to the world at large, you can never know what effect it may have, even on people you don't and may never know. And this is the best endorsement for facing one's fears and continuing to write that I can think of.
Thank you all, at any rate, for keeping me company thus far. And please comment to let me know what you'd like to see more (or less of) on this blog. Largely due to the efforts of blog colleague Scott Myers, whose promotion of a recent post currently has my total page view numbers at 999,690 and rising, I'm within 300+ hits of reaching one million by the day's end. You, my friend, may even be my millionth viewer!
May your days be filled with love and laughter.
(Illustrations by Adrian Tomine)