Friday, January 09, 2009

Spinning my wheels

24 is back on Sunday. The commercial has lots of explosions and a cool song so you know it's gonna be awesome. Don't forget to set your Tivo. So there's that.

Welcome to today's pity party. I'm super optimistic. I'm a person other people call when they feel bad because they know I'll find the silver lining somewhere. But I think in order to not explode I occasionally have to renorm. So a couple of times a year I am overwhelmed with crippling depression. Right now people are dying in Gaza and America has 7% unemployment and I'm teaching Holocaust literature, so it feels like as good a time as any to let the sad run rampant.

I spent the last two days seriously reassessing myself as a writer. I made a short film like thirty years ago and it's still not finished because the editor is... well I don't know what's going on there. I finally said that if he couldn't get the job done, just give it back to me and I'll finish it, but he won't have that. So I said, well at least let me come over and get some of the footage so I can send it to my actors for their reels so they don't stab me to death, but he won't have that either. On top of that he says he thinks it needs some changes because he showed 8 minutes of a 12 minute film to some buddies and they didn't get the surprise ending. And the sound guy he said could help us with the audio adjustments? He got laid off.

At this point I just want my footage back. I have a couple of friends who are professional editors who I didn't know a year ago and they would gladly help me finish this thing myself. I'm thinking if I offer this guy some money maybe he'll let me have my footage back.

Don't get me wrong, the guy's good at editing, but come on.

In the meantime, I'm getting to that frustration point in the overall process of the writing career.

You and me both, I know.

I've been writing stories since I was nine years old. I started thinking about writing as a serious venture in seventh grade when I won a contest with a sob story about how much my dad sucks. I got a masters degree in creative writing and I teach creative writing as part of my job.

Yet here I am, decades down the line, still unable to write one single script that can compete in the market.

I should have been a plumber. That Joe guy got a reporting job out of it. Next year he'll probably get his memoirs published, then somebody's going to buy his life rights and make a movie called Leaky Pipes and it's going to make a bazillion dollars.

Are you frustrated? Because I'm hella frustrated right now. It feels a bit like I've been spinning my wheels. Notes and more notes and more notes on into oblivion. I mean I know I said I love zombies, but I was kidding about wanting to write this script until the day I die. I'd actually like to finish this and write something else. But I refuse to walk away from this script until it's good, even if that means I'll be at this in fifteen years.

Actually if I'm still working on this script as a spec in fifteen years, somebody stab me.

I guess if you're going to be out here you've got to have supreme confidence that victory is just around the corner. One more edit, one more party, one more try. Then I can quit my day job.

So here we go. One more edit.

Okay, pity party over.


  1. nah, you ain't the only one. I'm frustrated with myself as a writer, too. I have 2 screenplay ideas that I want to write and I LOVE the characters, but I just can't figure out the goddamned scene outline. It's been a month now. Grrrrr

    Hang in there, and good luck in trying to get your footage back!

  2. Anonymous12:23 PM

    A friend of mine used to remind me, when things were looking bleak, that we -- writers that is -- are the chosen ones. We get to look at the world and make sense of pain or failure or the undead for those that can't do it themselves. We;re lucky that way. Of course it'd be nice to be able to support ourselves in this pursuit... But at least we have the tools to make sense of the pain and the failures when they visits us.
    Plus it beats the shit out of plumbing.

  3. Things will improve. And you've had it much worse. Everyone deserves a little break now and then to vent - you used yours to do some valuable assessment.

  4. And that's the hard part.

    You can go to college and medical school and become a brain surgeon and be sawing open some dude's head while he's unconscious in less time than it might take you to write the script that gets you in. And here's the thing - if you do that medical school thing, you are *guarenteed* a job sawing opens sleeping dude's heads and playing around with their brains!

    Nothing in screenwritng comes with a guarentee.

    But here's the funny thing - it's about odds - the captcha I'm about to fill out to post this - a group of random letters - actually spelled a *word* this time. That's never happened to me before.

    So, you keep doing it until the random letters spell a word.

    - Bill

  5. Anonymous1:33 PM

    I stumbled onto your blog recently and I just want to let you know that I think you kick some major ass. Your enthusiasm and tenacity are awesome, and I'm absolutely rooting for you to succeed in your ventures.

  6. Thanks guys. I love you all, even if I have never met you. But not in a creepy way.

    And Bill, that was downright poetic.

  7. Also, don't kill yourself on a script if it's frustrating yourself too much. Put it away, and come back to it later. Write something else in the meantime. Sometimes working too hard on something you've worked on for a long time can kill the joy of writing, and then the only way your wheels will spin is backwards.

    Hey, I got a captcha word this time too! Maybe it's a sign your break is just around the corner?

  8. I have read your work. You know I am not going to kiss your ass, because you sure would not kiss mine.
    You are a good writer. You tell stories well, in a way that makes the reader want more.
    What's frustrating isn't a lack of talent. You have talent. You have skill. What's frustrating is the lack of taste in the market. They are remaking 'The Land Of The Lost'. It was the worst TV show of the 70s, maybe of all time. The guy who signed that deal was either very stoned and it was a joke...or he needs his ass kicked up between his shoulder blades.

  9. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Frustrated here too. Lately my day job's been eating into shooting and writing. Plus a promise I made to edit someone's short - for free - is turning into a nightmare as I realize more and more the planned finish date is unrealistic.

    I'm working with a post-sound guy and we both agree there's too much sound work to do. I'd feel worse but the director's been reshooting scenes on a whim despite our warnings.

    Sometimes we have those weeks/months.

    But the consolation is, whatever's holding you up will go away eventually. Work will die down. You'll find time to write again. And shoot the script when ready.

    Best of luck!


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