Battle Symphony

A couple of people have asked me how I feel about the Chicago Justice news, and the truth is I’m only now climbing out of my hole.

I’m not going to go into the details, because I’m not here to start an argument and I think I’ve made my position very clear. But what I think about is how much it sucks to lose.

I absolutely hate losing. I’m competitive, but more than that, I’m dedicated. As we’ve talked about in the past I don’t hold back, and so when I don’t get a result I take that as a personal failure on my part. And I most definitely am keeping score.

This particular one really upsets me for a number of reasons. We should have had this. It was a quality series inside and out. It was part of a massive franchise. I was working with the best actor I’ve ever known. And it was right in my wheelhouse. The wheelhouse I’ve been building since I was in sixth grade studying criminal law for fun. (No, I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I could quote Ben Stone.)

Plus I can’t shake the feeling that this is a painful case of deja vu. Philip and I just went through this two years ago with The Player. That was another show we threw everything at and it never got the respect it deserved. And I will freely admit that when it went down, I lost my shit.

I was so upset over The Player that I fled to Canada. All I could think was that I had let Phil down, and let Damon down, and I hated that feeling. So when I got offered a chance to visit the set of Suits, I got on the plane just to get away and to decide if I even wanted to do this anymore. Because I’d convinced myself that I obviously wasn’t any good at it.

That was until the late-night note from Suits creator Aaron Korsh, telling me that he is a fan of my work. And staring at my phone, realizing that the writer of my favorite show on TV is a fan of mine, I realized I obviously couldn’t suck. So I got back at it.

I’m having those same feelings now. I’ve apologized to Phil at least twice. I definitely cried for a bit. And I’m kind of wondering what I have to do to get this right.

But as the last two weeks have gone on, maybe because I can’t run away this time, I’ve found myself thinking about all the memories we made in the last seven months. It just hit me that during One Chicago Day I unintentionally was sitting in Phil’s chair. Which would make perfect sense since I was sitting there rehashing my old opening statements in my head.

I’m thinking about that one fantastic night at Whirlyball, where we all just got to hang out and have a good time together, and I was never so excited to fail at anything in my life. Monica and Lindsey laid down perfect commentary for my complete ineptitude that still makes me laugh every time I watch it. I’m very lucky that I impulsively decided to fly across the country for that, because now we may not ever get to do that again.

I’m thinking about how Carl Weathers thought I had an invisible baby, and stupid bathroom fixtures, and all these little things that happened over the last eight months that I will never forget, no matter how short the journey.

I feel incredibly uncertain about myself right now. I committed myself to this career path in January based on the idea of getting to work with so many of my dearest friends. Six months later, most of them are gone. It’s just me, Colin Donnell, and the folks I know on Chicago Fire, and I get choked up realizing Phil and Monica won’t be there when I fly back to Chicago, and that Jeff and I won’t be able to tease each other, at least not in person. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go, at all.

But I’m here for the long haul. I don’t have the option to run this time. And having spoken to some of those same people, they think I can still make a difference here, and I trust them even if I don’t trust myself.

So what am I doing this time? I’m throwing myself into my writing. This is a normal reflex for me, because it’s an exercise in control. A friend of mine gets written out of a show? Well, I can still write for him on my show. Something is done wrong? I can do it better. And I can take all those negative emotions – the hurt, the anger, the fear and the total confusion – and put them to constructive use.

It helps that my current project is the most intense thing I’ve ever done. The series I’m working on now is a very serious drama about a number of important issues, not unlike Chicago Justice. I have to go to some dark places for it to work. And I’m ready for that now because I have all these emotions swirling around in my head. So rather than run away, I’m asking myself which of my two best friends I can ask to jump off a third-floor railing. (They both have kids. This is a legitimate question that goes through my head.)

I’ve spent two weeks writing some serious stuff, and writing lines for several people who are very much still on my mind. Getting it all out, and trying to make up for it in my own strange way. Reminding myself that no matter how short all of this was we still were able to share something unbelievable together, and I’m still lucky as hell to have these people in my life.

So how do I feel right now? I’m hurt, I’m scared, and I probably need a hug. But I’m also grateful and working through this the only way I know how. And that will have to be enough until it’s time for the next fight.