We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicholas Popkey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicholas, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I came to LA to become a cinematographer, but about two years ago, I got into writing. At first it was an experiment, as I’d written papers and a couple film scripts in the past, but as I began to write fiction, it didn’t seem like I had much of a choice. Creating characters and being inside stories; it was simply the flow of where my life was headed. Since the pandemic, I’m so happy I pivoted, because writing is done from anywhere, and I alone hold myself accountable. Now I write for at least an hour every single weekday, giving myself a break on the weekends, although sometimes (such as this Saturday as I’m typing this) I end up writing anyway. Whereas working on film sets is so dependent on factors I cannot control, and with COVID, a lot of set work has dried up anyway, my writing practice (fiction, screenplay, and poetry) is something I can always control. As with anything involving self-discipline, a balance is vital. Every day as I roll out of bed, I have it somewhere in my head that an hour or two of writing is going to occur sometime during This Day–this gift we’re given with every sunrise. When I get my homemade cappuccino in early, I usually finish a session in the morning, leaving my afternoons free to read, catch up with friends, go for a run, listen to a podcast or audiobook in my hammock, or do a bit of baking. I do not watch TV or movies during the day. Everyone will develop their own balance as they enter into any creative practice. If you immerse yourself and make it a habit, the motivation becomes like muscle memory, and at least for me, that’s when I started to really enjoy writing, taking joy in what’s become part of my routine (so important in these times). But of course I cannot write all day long (although when I’m really excited about a new piece, this does tend to happen). Everyone must search their soul for their own balance, but if I had to give one piece of advice, let it be this: Listen to what your inner child would want to do in his/her free time, thinking back to the ways you entertained yourself as a young, bright-faced human full of optimism. Creative work can also be isolating, so make sure you’re seeing your friends and family (maybe through FaceTime now), and getting plenty of exercise! Running 30 miles a week is what works for me. Creative work can tighten the spring inside your chest, and in order to not be awoken with story-thoughts in the night, I like to unwind with a run after a day’s work, drinking in the magic of simply being alive, and ready to start again the next day. Wishing everyone a happy balance between work and life as we weather the rest of this storm.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Right now I’m working on getting a short story published that I’m really excited about. I’ve written two screenplays, both of which are in pre-production, and I’m also writing my first video game, a Steampunk/Fantasy RPG set in Victorian England.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’d take them up to Griffith Park, maybe out to Catalina Island, for a night of camping in Malibu or Joshua Tree, and in a normal world, to the bars and restaurants I love here in the city. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to my parents for always supporting me and being my first readers!
Al Stevens, Heather Ballish, Bianca Nicole