Archive for September 2008

Oh, Yeah — I Have a Blog, Don’t I?

September 28, 2008

A little while ago, the Missus, of all people, called me on the fact that I hadn’t posted since Monday night.  I suppose I have no excuse.  Well, I do — there’s the whole day job/fatherhood thing.  And the video game I’ve spent way too much time playing.  But I haven’t touched the Wedding Comedy since I turned in the polish on Monday, so the main reason for my recent blog neglect has disappeared for the time being.  Guess I’m just a slacker.

ANYWAY… much to my shock, the producers seem to dig the latest draft of the script — I got a phone call from one of them complimenting me on the work and saying that they were sending the script out to talent this week.  And that’s the last I’ve heard from any of them.  It felt weird; one day I’m being hounded on an hourly basis about where the script is, and then the next day, it’s like they’ve forgotten who the hell I am.  Who knows — now that they have the script tweaked to their satisfaction, maybe they HAVE forgotten who the hell I am.

So what do I do now, aside from pray that the script goes into production soon so I can collect my sale money and finally pay off Citi Cards before they unleash a Star Destroyer deck full of bounty hunters on my debt-ridden ass?  Well, I finally picked up a book that I’ve had on my shelf for well over a year, Michael Chabon’s THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION.  Chabon is one of my all-time favorite authors and I got this novel the day it came out, but I’ve been holding off on reading it until I had some time to give it my full attention.  That day has finally come. 

I would also like to get through the video games piling up on my console, particularly HALF-LIFE 2, HALO 2 and of course BIOSHOCK, which has taken me forever and a day because its ultraviolence and all-around spooky atmosphere mean that I have to play it when no one else is around.  (The Missus is okay with me chopping down squadrons of stormtroopers with a lightsaber in front of the Peanut, but she’s decidedly less so with me beating a measly genetic mutation or two to death with a wrench.  Go figure.)

But mostly, I need to get back to work on the High School Comedy, a.k.a. my latest spec.  I started the second draft of it a couple of months ago, before I became ensared in the Wedding Comedy revisions.  Time to dust off the cobwebs and get moving on that one again.  It’s nice to fantasize that the Wedding Comedy will be my big break, but if it isn’t, then I’ve got to follow it up with something.  And even if it is, I’ve STILL got to follow it it  up with something.

So basically, I just need to get my ass in gear again.  As my ex-manager liked to say, “No rest for the weary.”  Not even if they’ve got Master Chief beckoning them on the Xbox.

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It’s Official….

September 23, 2008

… I am completely, 100% sick of the Wedding Comedy, the latest (and hopefully final, for now) draft of which I just emailed, technically making my Monday deadline even though we’re at least four hours past the end of the work day.  At this point I’ll take what I can get.

I have this terrible feeling that they’re going to ask me to take another whack at it tomorrow.  Hopefully I’m wrong, ’cause at this point I can barely write my own name without second-guessing it.  (“Maybe we need to pump up the vowel in the first syllable…”)

But for the time being, I’ll pretend that this is the last time I have to look at this script, let alone tinker with it.

Here We Go Again…

September 18, 2008

The good news is that the producers really like the new draft of the Wedding Comedy — they think that with one more polish, it will be ready to take out to talent. 

The bad news is that they want the polish by Monday.

At least they supplied me with several pages of nit-picky notes which will hopefully keep me on track for this final (or maybe that should be “final”) pass.  I’m now, of course, worried that I’ll screw up whatever it is that they liked about the rewrite, but I just need to remind myself of my recent discovery that the less I overthink things, the better.

Easier said than done.

Finished (For Now)

September 16, 2008

 

 So yesterday I handed in the revised draft of the Wedding Comedy, all polished up, dumbed down, and minus eight pages to bring it in to a low budget friendly (or at least friendlier) 102 pages.  Any good?  Who knows — I’d like to think so, though at this point, my opinion is the last one that matters.  Strangely enough, instead of agonizing over whether or not it was ready to turn in, I’m remarkably calm about the draft’s possible reception.  Maybe I’ve finally come to realize that at this point, there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. Or maybe I’m just relieved that it’s over for the time being.  Either way, I’ve been basking in the afterglow ever since — apparently I look like I’m in such a good mood today, the Missus thinks I’m having an affair.

The wife also pointed out something that I didn’t notice until after the fact: according to her, this time around I was significantly less neurotic while writing than I usually am.  Maybe it was because of the  tight deadline given by the producers (three weeks between the approval of the loose outline and when they wanted to see the draft): I didn’t have time to agonize over the myriad options I faced with along the way but simply had to make a decision, stick with it and move on.  In the Missus’ opinion, my standard neuroses were there, but I didn’t let them rise to the surface because I couldn’t afford to let them.  This makes sense to me, even though I never thought of it that way; I suffer from a chronic lack of self-awareness, though, so she’s probably dead on.  In any case, the sprint is over… at least until the producers give me notes.  Then the race starts again.

In the meantime, I’m going to veg out without guilt.

Sprinting

September 11, 2008

As much as I’d like to, for the past few days I just haven’t had the time to write a decent blog entry.  I’ve promised the producers the latest draft of the Wedding Comedy by Monday, so I’m working as hard as I can… WHEN I can: between the day job, the Peanut and the sick Missus (thanks to the Peanut), finding twenty minutes of sustained writing time is about as miraculous as seeing the face of Jesus on a burrito.  Hopefully things will ease up a little this weekend and I can put the finishing touches on the draft and then have time for such leisure-time activities as staring blankly at a wall.  And then blogging about it.

Anyway, the WriterDad chronicle of fear and self-loathing will resume soon enough, don’t you worry.

Breaking Up the Band

September 7, 2008

This week I found out that my writing group is going on indefinite hiatus, at least in its current incarnation. Our mentor/moderator Tim is bowing out for the foreseeable future; my buddy Dave had already decided not to continue at all, and I recently realized that I wouldn’t be able to attend anymore anyway after our meeting night was changed from every other Friday to to every other Wednesday.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s probably for the best that we take a break and/or shake up the personnel; we’ve been going in one form or another for at least five years now (I honestly can’t remember when we started anymore), but over the past year our sessions turned more into hang-out nights than actual reading-and-critiquing sessions. In a weird way, I was totally okay with that: I really like everybody in the group, and it was nice to hear what was going on with my cohorts beyond the pages we were or — as was increasingly the case — were NOT showing that night. But the truth was that we were falling into a rut. Some of us were more productive with others, but to one degree or another we were all getting bogged down by personal circumstances, story troubles or flat-out lack of confidence, and our friendly bullshitting helped mask the fact that almost nobody was really getting anything done. And if nobody was getting anything done, were we really a writing group? I guess we now have the answer.

On the other hand, it’s still a bummer. I like the group as it is — or, more accurately, was. Even though I’m sure it’ll inevitably reconfigure in one way or another, it won’t be quite the same.  I’m sorry I missed what ended up being the final hurrah with Tim on Wednesday night, though previous to this, our last meeting before taking a break for the summer involved a surprise baby shower for me, so that was a nice way to go out from my perspective.  And in the end, maybe this could be the best thing for everybody involved as it jolts us out of the complacency that seemed to set in.

So what now?  Well, I’ll see what happens with the old gang — if nothing else, I’m sure everybody will continue to give notes on scripts we send to one another, and with any luck I’ll be able to make any future meetings if/when we reconvene (hopefully with a renewed sense of purpose).  Dave and I are also talking about maybe forming a brand new writing group — this one based in LA instead of Orange County, thus sparing me the hellish evening commuter traffic I would face every time I took the southbound 405 down into the heart of the OC.  We’ll see who we can recruit for that theoretical group.  Think John August is busy?

Anyway, this all brings up the ever-popular question: does a writer even need a writing group?  In my experience, absolutely.  If you can find a group of peers whose talent you respect and you get along with on a personal level, then it’s invaluable not only for the feedback on your pages, but also for the emotional — and occcasionally professional — support a group can provide.  Sometimes it’s just nice to be reminded that you’re not crazy or alone in this endeavor.

Well, it’s nice to be reminded you’re not alone, anyway.  You’re a screenwriter — of COURSE you’re bonkers.

Bad Dad Strikes Again

September 3, 2008

We’ve been dreading it like cancer — day care for the Peanut.  It finally happened today.  The crying began last night and continued all the way over to the day care center.  The sound of that weeping broke my heart even further than it already was.

The baby, on the other hand, couldn’t care less; she just kept sleeping in the her car seat while the Missus continued her meltdown.

I wasn’t feeling so chipper myself.  Although I tried to console myself with the fact that day care is simply a given for many, if not most, parents these days, I couldn’t help but feel that it was still somehow my fault.  After all, it goes back to that choice I made as a teenager to pursue the movie dream no matter what; that’s great and all, but considering that I’ve gotten to my age and still can’t support my family, well, was it really worth it?  If a mysterious stranger had met us at the door of the day care center today and said to me, “All right, I’ll make you a deal — your wife will get to be a stay-at-home mom and you’ll make enough to provide your family with a comfortable living… but you gotta give up this screenwriting shit,” I would’ve signed that contract faster than you can say “Mephistopheles.”

But alas, there was no mysterious stranger to greet us, so into day care the Peanut went.  And — surprise, surprise — everything turned out to be fine; nobody beat her up or gave her a tattoo or turned her to a life of crime (yet).  The Missus felt better when she picked up our little girl at the end of the day.  Maybe it’s not the end of the world after all.

Still, this whole day care thing bugs me.  A lot.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in a Cosby-esque nuclear family with Mom at home and Dad this elusive figure I’d catch a glimpse of at night and on weekends; I hate the notion that my daughter would be deprived of that kind of traditional home life.  I even suggested that I give up my own job to become Mr. Mom, but the Missus would hear none of it, insisting that I wouldn’t have time to write; as she pointed out, the possibility that I could win the lottery with a spec sale or big assignment is really our only chance for her to become a stay-at-home mommy.  Sad but true.  And although I have about as much chance of striking rich that way as I do getting hit in the head by a meteorite, it’s a shred of hope that we’ll just cling to for as long as we can.

In the meantime, I’ll keep hoping the Peanut doesn’t learn how to make a shank out of a used diaper.