I'm new here, so if I break any rules or offend anyone, apologies in advance. (Also, this is quite long, so feel free to respond on any point, even if you haven't read the whole thing.)
I'm currently experiencing a phenomenon much like the one starter posted about last week, but which has, I think, an additional complication.
So, I'm one of those wannabe screenwriters in Hollywood with a day job at a studio. Although professions of this kind aren't directly mentioned in Right Livelihood, I feel very much like the actor Buddha speaks to about why performing in theatrical shows is against the dhamma. I grew up wanting nothing but to be a writer, and feel chagrined and betrayed to find (on a visceral level) that it is not, in fact, the way to true happiness.
I'm discovering multiple layers to the problems with this field, including things which I previously not only didn't look down on, but celebrated:
1) As Buddha mentions to the actor, practically the entire purpose of theatrical shows is to engender desire in the audience. This takes its most obvious form in beautiful actors, visuals, music, etc., but it's more than that: the very core of a story is desire. That's like the first thing they teach you in Writing 101: the main character must have an objective--the stronger, the better. It's no accident that there are no movies (as far as I know) with a Buddhist monk as a main character (lol). So because of my dhamma exploration, I'm finding it harder and harder to relate to characters' problems and how seriously they take them, and am finding it a bit difficult to enjoy the entertainments I once worshiped. And I'm not talking dumb action movies--I've never been into those anyway--but even the highest examples of cinema and theater of all time. I'm just experiencing far too much equanimity to get into these things.
2) Because of the above, I'm finding it harder to be "inspired" these days. If I can't buy into people's desires (even my own), then how can I possibly (or why would I) fabricate new ones for imaginary people? Most of my inspiration (and that of others, I'm sure) has come from my agita over own life's problems. Well, eliminate one's agita, and what's left to write about? The dhamma, I guess, but as I mentioned, that does not make for good drama. I suppose I could write about characters finding enlightenment or whatever, but I would still have to be immersed in the desire and struggle on the way there. And writing isn't just an intellectual engagement; as with an actor, if you're going to write anything half-way decent, your emotions have to be in high gear: you feel with and through your characters. This is, needless to say, not conducive to a peaceful mentality. I'm realizing that it's no accident that so many writers are alcoholics or drug addicts or kill themselves.
3) Even at my boring day job at the studio, my mind is constantly bombarded with the greed, lust and pride so inherent to this business. I know that I can work at being aware of it and its effect on me, and I have been, but I'm just saying that this yet one more facet of the atmosphere I've immersed myself in.
4) Worst of all, I'm finding my ambition dwindling--which is death in this highly competitive field. This is basically what starter talked about, but I doubt that the answer is that I'm just being lazy and should really apply myself harder at this business of desire. I'm not really even sure what I'm asking here. For permission to quit, I guess. Actually, I'm getting towards the end of taking my stab at it, and if my career doesn't take off in a year or so, then I will quit. But until then, I've seriously considered purposefully forgetting about Buddhism and immersing myself back in desire and ambition, even if that means (and it probably will) being as horrifically unhappy as I was prior to thinking along these lines (which started about a year ago, when I wasn't studying Buddhism per se, but other stuff that had a similar effect). Effectively, I'm saying that I value my pride over my happiness--which, I know, is ludicrous and destructive. I'm like that guy in the Matrix who regrets having left the Matrix and wants to return; he actually wishes he still lived in delusion. (Of course I would reference a movie to explain this.)
But of course I won't do that. I just can't make myself miserable on purpose. But I feel like continuing to learn and apply myself to the dhamma will inevitably result in my writing grinding down to a halt. Have any of you guys experienced anything like this? Help?? Like one of retro's posts said, how is it possible to live in both worlds like this? Is it?