Meet Molly McGlynn, our new guest blogger. This 29 year old film-maker and writer may be our new super-hero.
My grandfather, Noel McGlynn, used to say, “knock on any front door and you’ll find a bestseller.” Hearing this as a kid, I liked the sentiment, not to mention the promise of literary notoriety and financial bounty, but wasn’t entirely sure what it entailed beyond my childlike, literal interpretation. Years later, when I walk Dun Laoghaire pier where his ashes were scattered, I thank him for this bit of wisdom that’s informed a great deal of who I am and what I do. It’s my job as a human to find the story in others, real or fictitious. But first, what’s mine?
I’m a writer and filmmaker currently based in Toronto, though my family is Irish. At 29, I am sandwiched between people telling me I’ve got loads of time to sort it all out and reading about thirteen-year old wunderkinds who make me feel both excited at the energy of the younger generation, but insecure in my own accomplishments. Like most people, I struggle to feel like I’m doing enough, have enough and am enough. I would like to be the whistleblower on bullshit and pretense. No one is spared the anxiety of wondering if they’re doing it all right. At a certain point, though, you have to lace up your runners, and go for it. Whatever the ‘it’ happens to be for you. Run towards it.
The ‘it’ for me, right now, is writing and making films, though it took me a while to have the courage to identify myself as a writer and filmmaker. I told myself that I wasn’t established or successful enough to have the right to do so. Staying quiet and insecure, but frustrated, was easier. I studied film in university, worked at the Toronto International Film Festival, got a post-graduate degree in writing & producing TV, worked for various television shows and for a very well known director. It took me years to realize that I wanted to make films, then a few more years to actually do so. The fear of failure paralyzed me. I associated my personal worth with the success of the things I made. I was no longer scribbling away ideas in a private notebook. I had to put them on a screen where people could criticize and comment on them, and me. But here’s the great epiphany – so what? Some things you do will be great. Some will be shit. You’re still here.
Many, myself included, can get caught up in the obsession with obtaining personal happiness. What if, instead of that, we identify what specific pains and sacrifices in our life we can live with and tolerate every day? For me, identifying myself as a writer and filmmaker means I will have financial ups and downs for most of my life, my work will be heavily judged and I cannot predict what my life will look life from year to year. Having a relationship and a family (one day, maybe) will be challenging but not impossible. In the past, some men have been challenged by my lack of predictability or “wildness”. Some men have been drawn to it for bad reasons. Recently, one was drawn to it and respected and supported me because of it and has reconfigured what I thought relationships could even be. I realized in the past year or so that I am absolutely scared witless, but the other option of living a safe, yet inauthentic and uncreative life scares me more. I have identified the pains and sacrifices I can live with for the sake of my version of what a fulfilling life looks like. For now. Things change.
Only in the past year or two, I am starting to really understand what I want and what it will take to get there. There are certain preconceived notions of self I will need to leave behind to make room. I want to make room instead of fill holes. I’m realizing that in order to evolve, I must continually wave goodbye to a self that no longer serves me needs and goals for today. That’s okay. With every goodbye, I say hello to version of myself that I’ve worked hard to meet. Pour her a nice cup of tea.
We are all drowning with messages that we are supposed to know sooner and if it’s not all figured out by thirty, you’re going to end up a miserable and unsuccessful person watching a dog dressed up as a teddybear on a treadmill on YouTube on a Monday at 11:15am (something I may or may not have done this week, but moving on). The most interesting, trailblazing, intelligent women I know don’t necessarily have a 5 or 10-year plan or a “vision board” or a linear past. It’s not always an ascending line, but a series of squiggles and circle backs. It’s more interesting that way. You end up with a richer story.
My recent desire to develop a youth-outreach programme for younger women in conjunction with a Toronto based organization Women On Screen stems from my belief that filmmaking can be used as a tool to rewrite some of these predictable and even damaging narratives of perfectionism, redemption from an external source and unrealistic lives into something that can be quite powerful. My intent is not to make every girl we work with an award-winning filmmaker. It is a way of asking a girl “what is your story and how will you tell it?” As grown women we should be asking ourselves the same thing every day.
The decision to accept responsibility for one’s life, happiness and fulfillment is a terrifying and painful challenge. It is not a motivational quote you like on Instagram but a series of mistakes, embarrassments and periods of self-doubt.
At the end of the day, not every story will be a bestseller, but every story deserves to be written. And rewritten. What’s yours?
By Molly McGlynn
Here’s a tweet from the one and only Lena Dunham about Molly’s latest short film…
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) February 20, 2015