Archive for December 2008

‘Tis the Season

December 11, 2008

This past weekend was pretty busy. On Saturday, the Missus and I went to her company’s annual holiday party at a swank hotel in Santa Monica, where we gorged ourselves on all-you-can-eat sushi and a chocolate fountain and enjoyed the benefits of an open bar. We left the Peanut with my sister-in-law, the first time we’ve had a babysitter (daycare excepted). To be honest, part of me really didn’t want to go to the party. I know, what could possibly go wrong? In my mind the answer to that was, Everything. The kid could get sick. My sister-in-law could get sick. The house could burn down. Aliens could swoop down and abduct the Peanut, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS-style. Who knows. Why risk it?

Despite my hand-wringing we went anyway, and when we got home, the Peanut was fast asleep in her crib and my sister-in-law was alive, well and about as sane as when we left her. We all breathed a sigh of relief.

The next day, the WriterDad clan trekked out to the local agricultural college to buy our Christmas tree. I’ve lived out in Southern California for more than a decade, and I will never get used to the notion of picking out the perfect Douglas Fir while surrounded by palm trees. Afterward, the Peanut got her photo taken with the Santa, who was hanging out nearby. This was an unexpectedly awesome experience, one of those moments when I stepped back and thought to myself, “Holy shit, we’ve got a kid. And she’s visiting Santa for the first time. And, perhaps most importantly, she’s not crying, vomiting or pooping on Santa.” The fact that she would probably soon be crying, vomiting and pooping on me and/or the Missus didn’t detract from the moment in the slightest. Nor did the arm full of badass tattoos that Santa accidentally flashed when we passed him our daughter.

At some point during the weekend, I also finally finished my latest draft of the Apatow Rip-Off. Considering that it’s only 99 pages, there’s no reason why that sucker should have taken me over a month to rewrite… but it did, and at least it’s finished. That’s about all it has going for it, unfortunately; I threw the script in the drawer to get some distance before I eventually read through it, but I suspect that it’s a B- effort at very best. I know — that’s why we rewrite. But is it even worth rewriting? I’m honestly not sure; the whole thing feels very middle-of-the road to me, and I fear that no matter how much I polish, I’ll still end up with a highly polished mediocrity. But that’s a decision I’ll make when I actually read the stupid thing.

So what now? I’ve got drafts of two other projects to rewrite. I also have a couple of new ideas that I find myself mentally circling around. Given how un-fired up I feel about the scripts I’ve already got, maybe tackling a fresh project is precisely what I need to jumpstart my enthusiasm. My office is closed for the last two weeks of the month, giving me plenty of time for a first draft — theoretically, anyway. We’ll see what the Peanut has to say about that. Probably “Whaaaaaaa!”

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Grindstone Cowboy

December 3, 2008

I seem to be in danger of becoming one of those bloggers who, you know, doesn’t actually update his blog on a regular basis. What the hell is wrong with me? I’ll bet you can guess. Let’s all say it together: “I have no time to write.”

Sadly, this does indeed seem to be the case, at least lately. The Peanut is approaching her five month mark, and just when the Missus and I think we’ve got this parenting shit down to a science, our offspring makes another developmental leap and screws us up all over again. Recent occurrences include such milestones as rolling from her tummy onto her back (a hilarious and weirdly touching sight), the beginning of the teething phase (decidedly less hilarious) and reaching out for random objects — for example, the catalog that Mommy’s holding while the baby sits in her lap — and stuffing them into her mouth. When the Peanut is sitting on my leg and we’re talking gibberish to one another, an experience that occasionally seems to resemble one of my more awkward prodco meetings, I experience a profound happiness that I previously never believed to be possible without illicit substances or religious brainwashing.

Unfortunately, a more active and interactive Peanut keeps me away from my computer for even longer stretches than before. I’m lucky if I have twenty minutes to work on the rewrite of the Apatow Rip-Off, which I’d hoped to finish in time for the tracking board contest and completely and utterly failed to do so. The get-up-at-4:50-with-the-wife-and-write plan is still in effect — unless the Peanut wakes up around that time, in which case it becomes the get-up-at-4:50-and-take-care-of-the-kid plan. A Thanksgiving trip to visit the in-laws in San Diego — traditionally one of my most creatively fertile periods of the year — yielded exactly zero pages this time around. Being stuck in the third quarter of Act II hasn’t helped, either: for the past two weeks, the little time I’ve spent at the keyboard mostly involved A) staring blankly at the screen, B) occasionally trying out and then promptly discarding ideas that I’ll charitably describe as half-baked, and/or C) writing vicious hate mail to myself, then deleting it before the Missus could read some of it and hide the knife block in the kitchen.

I now understand why pro writers often seem to take long stretches of time off for their families. Part of me feels like going on hiatus to let the well refill and enjoy the first year of my daughter’s life without the burden of shoehorning in writing time. I’m not going to do that, of course. The fact is, I’m not getting any younger — I’m rapidly approaching the age range in which most guys settle into whatever profession they’re going to toil in until they hit retirement, and here I am, on a career track to nowhere. Screenwriting is pretty much the only existential “Get Out of Jail Free” card I have to play at this point, which compounds my frustration when circumstances prevent me from putting in the time and effort I need to make my professional aspirations a reality.

I have to keep my nose to the grindstone, even if it ends up shearing off my face.

(Coda: The Missus made me promise to be more cheerful in my next post.)