Friday, May 22, 2009


A respected colleague made a comment on another blog recently that made me realize how little we really know about each other. I super appreciated this person giving me a shoutout, especially since he only recommended me and John August which is a massive compliment, but still. I forget what people don't know.

I realized that unless you've been reading my shit for a while, you probably think I've only ever written one screenplay because I talk about the same one all the time.

And that in turn made me realize that it's not something I've ever really talked about on here. The "how many scripts do I have to write before I'm good" thing.

I kind of hate Diablo Cody. She wrote a screenplay and boop! Instant success at the highest level. Then her TV show got picked up. Then her second screenplay got bought. So I hate her so very much, for no other reason than I am enormously jealous - or should I say, "I am totally jello".

Sure, she did some work in her previous life. She wrote a blog, she wrote a book and whatnot, but so did I. I got a goddamn masters degree in creative writing and I wrote a thesis a million years ago, but you don't see me wearing my leopard print dress to the Oscars and being all whatever.

I really hate her. Stupid Diablo Cody and her stupid success.

Anyway, so she's one in a bazillion. Most of us plug away at it, year after year, trying desperately to write the next big thing. I started about eight years ago with the same idea as everybody else. I had this great sci-fi idea and I wrote a screenplay. Then I thought about TV and The Dead Zone supposedly had this program for new writers. I shit you not, after about five months of being an amateur screenwriter I was actually thinking about what would happen if I got a job working on The Dead Zone and had to move to Vancouver, because of course that's where the show was shot.

Oh, Emily. You were so very naive.

In the end I've probably written about 6 screenplays in various stages of completeness, 5 teleplays and about 5 short film scripts, one of which IS STILL IN GODDAMN POST PRODUCTION. But whatever. Anyway, so I've written a lot, but I never felt like anything I'd written was really, really good.

Then I wrote Not Dead Yet and there is was. They always say it takes about 6-10 shitty scripts to get to the one you love and I'd say that is 100% true for me. I didn't want it to take that long but it did. I got that one good script, the one people like so much they're actually working on my behalf. Hell I have people I've never met in person passing my shit around and trying to find me a buyer. How crazy is that? Totally crazy.

They always say this is a marathon, not a sprint, and they are right. It sucks ass when you hear it, but you get over it as soon as you see that one, beautiful script at the end of the rainbow. So that's why I keep talking about my one script: it's been eight years in the making for me.

On an unrelated note, today is my birthday, and as an added bonus I am meeting the Beefcake's parents for the first time this weekend. So if I am too hungover and/or murdered by my future mother-in-law to return, please remember me fondly.


  1. Happy birthday and good luck!

    One of my early fears was "wasting" my best ideas on the 6-10 scripts you have to battle through to get to a good one.

    Did you have the same issue and if so what did you do about it?

    For me I finally got the courage to say the hell with it and moved ahead with ideas I really love. If it sucks... it sucks.


  2. Thanks!

    I've been lucky enough that I don't think I used my best ideas on my old scripts. I had some good ideas, but writing them early made me realize I don't have the skills to put them on the page.

    There was one idea I used for my second finished feature that I think I'll go back to one day when I feel like I'm ready. I'll totally rewrite it though.

  3. first of all, happy birthday! I hope your new year brings you lots of success and fortunes.

    lol, I love/hate Diablo Cody as well. I admire her while I also seethe at how she makes it look so goddamned easy. It's true that she's one in a millionth, one of those classic Hollywood "rags to riches" stories that'll never happen for most struggling screenwriters.

    at least you got a lot of practice out of writing more than 4 scripts. To this day, I have only written 4 full length screenplays (although I've written long stage plays). My goal is to write at least 3 stellar screenplays for sale...

    good luck with rewrites. God, I hate rewrites.

  4. Happy bday!

    @ Jim: I wouldn't worry about wasting ideas. You need to be trying to do your best all the time or you won't improve as much. Plus:

    1. You'll probably have better ideas later on.

    2. If your early ideas are really great, they'll stand the test of time and you'll go back to them and rewrite them.

    @ Em:

    I've had a short in post production since 2006. But that same director gave me my first paying job, so I'm not bitter about it anymore.

  5. Happy Birthday. Thanks for running a sweet blog, and for the lolcat pics, of course.

  6. Happy Birthday!

    - Bill

  7. Have a kick-ass birthday, Emily!

  8. Happy b-day Em. You are one of the four screenwriting blogs I read. So, um, keep it up.

    hmm, I've written four shorts scripts that got OK buzz by those that read them, two awful screenplays that I wouldn't show a blind person, and one amazing play that no one wants to read because it is a play.

    Currently writing screenplay #3 - and planning to film and act in it myself. I figure I can epic fail at three professions at once. Get it all out of the way with one movie.

  9. I see Diablo Cody where I work sometimes. Any message you'd like me to pass along?

    Anyway, Happy Birthday Emily! All the very best to you in the coming year!

  10. Happy Birthday! You are a supahstah!
    Say hi to the BC for me.


    P.S. we got a dog.

  11. Happy Belated Birthday.

  12. James, see, you got what most people don't got these days - a solid plan of action.

    Mr Peel, tell her I said to shut her stupid face.

    No don't do that, actually. She has too much power now.

    And thanks for the birthday wishes, people.

    Vanilla, Beefcake would like to know what kind of dog.

  13. Happy Birthday Emily, and thanks for bringing us newcomers up-to-date. It was interesting for me to get to know how long you've been at this and where you are in the process. I hope that Not Dead Yet brings you all kinds of success.

    In the couple of years I've been trying my hand at screenplays (while keeping my day job), I've managed get rough drafts of three. Like you, I liked the concept of my second one a lot (even though it probably turned out the weakest), so I'm working on a page-one rethink/rewrite of it. Do you think it's too early to go back? Or should I be focusing on only new stuff at this point?

  14. I think if you're excited about your new take, go for it. Ride the energy of that idea before you start second guessing yourself. Good luck with it. Writing three scripts while maintaining the day job for two years is damn good.

  15. Anonymous11:20 AM

    Hi Emily,

    Diablo was especially lucky in getting someone from Benderspink to push her material. Check out any day of the week and you will see how many agents and managers go out wide with scripts but don't sell them. It takes a real salesman to get the specs past the frontline CE's and onto the desk of the real buyers. And if your script doesn't sell but gets a good response - they need to push for rewrite assignments. Only a few reps in town can really do this well.

    - Angela


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