Sunday, June 06, 2010

And I thought writing for pleasure was hard.

I've never been one to motivate myself.

If it weren't for an ill-fated love interest in Los Angeles, I would've never taken up jogging. If it weren't for an extremely enthusiastic teacher in college, I'd have never taken up screenwriting. If it weren't for my metabolism, I'd weigh four hundred pounds. If it weren't for Merrill, I'd never submit my stories to anyone. If it weren't for voodoo, I'd never have any luck with the ladies. If it weren't for Jeff's wife, I'd never eat a meal that required utensils. If it weren't for Nigel, I'd still be pooping on canvas and calling it art.*

So, I'm trying to get this professional writing gig finished. I technically had two weeks to get it done, but at our last meeting, I boastingly told the producer I'd have it done in one. Well, that deadline joined my once-flat stomach, my once-fluent foreign language, my once-sparkling white teeth, and my once-plausible prospect of not dying alone.

So now, the real deadline comes, and I've started working in earnest. The only problem is, I'd rather do anything but write right now. I slept, I tried to get caught up on "Lost," I mowed my mom's lawn, I watched half of SINGING IN THE RAIN, I took my niece out for ice cream, I recorded voicework for strangers' podcasts, I took something back to Walmart, I watched a bunch of old "Buffy the Vampire Slayers," I blogged and read others' blogs, I did paperwork, I cleaned the fishtank, I went to the post office, I played around with MS Paint, I watched the other half of SINGING IN THE RAIN, I edited half of next week's Dunesteef banter, and I read two-thirds of a novel this week. Hell, I even wrote the world's wretchedest Broken Mirror Story submission in the last twenty four hours. Anything to keep me from writing this movie treatment.

If you've ever read a real film treatment, you might be wondering, "What the deuce is this kid's problem? They're, like, three pages long. Or less." Well, there's the monster from Night On Bald Mountain-sized possibility that the producer is just going to hand my treatment over to a professional screenwriter when I'm done, and have him go to town on it. So I'm really doing all I can to create what some idiots in the biz call a "scriptment," which is basically a bloated synopsis of the film far more detailed than your typical summary.

I guess I'm hoping that the producer will read this and go, "Wow, this American punk really knows what he's doing; I'm going to hire him to write the full screenplay!" And barring that, I'm hoping that when the story is handed to another writer, he (or she) will read my work and go, "Wow, this American punk did most of the heavy lifting for me; I'll just flesh it out a little!"

Of course, these are silly thoughts. Either the work I do is good or it isn't. Either the producer is impressed or he isn't. Either I'm on time or I'm not.

A few years ago, I did some of my very best work (my opinion, of course) writing a reimagining** of a truly awful low-budget film from the Seventies. Granted, my writing probably wasn't perfect, and needed a draft or two, but it was so much better than the friggin' screenplay that inspired it (again, my opinion), that I was sure that film's producer would think, "Oy vey and-a-half, this kid has more passion for my property than I ever had; I'm going to see to it that this movie gets made!" Instead, the old bastard passed on it one hundred percent, had a couple insulting comments tossed in my direction, and promptly died.***

I guess that's my way of saying that things don't always work out the way they should (or the way I want them to, anyway). Those sorts of things are out of my control. What I need to do with this particular opportunity is buckle down and absolutely give it my all, so that, come what may, I can hold my head up high and say, "What the heck, I went and did my best, and by God, I really tasted something swell. And for a moment, why, I almost moved this French guy, and at least I left some stories they can tell, I did."

Silliness aside, I recognize that this current project is just one cog in the great watchworks of life, and whether it goes anywhere or not is pretty inconsequential. But I do hope to look back on this time and say, "That was pretty good stuff, come what may," (no song lyrics here, folks, I've bagged my limit) regardless of whether the film got made or not. Somebody somewhere told me that only one out of a hundred screenplays written are actually made into films, and the actually number may be much lower than that. But I have a contract and will fulfill it, regardless of what the end result may be.

Write on!

Rish Shakespeare Outfield

*Okay, maybe that one's a bit much.

**Do you remember when everybody used that word, instead of the dread word "reboot?"

***I imagine his 1972 original is on a constant loop in Hell right now.

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