Sunday, February 13, 2011

Write Now

Okay, where was I? Yeah, I don't remember either. I started this blog way back in 2005 when I was living in L.A., but I never could figure out what to write about, so I sort of lost interest. But back then I think I missed the point of keeping a blog. It's not about what you write, it's about actually writing, especially for someone like me who identifies himself as a writer. Or, at least I did identify myself as one. Back in the day, I used to love to write. In college I would stay up for hours writing sketches, scripts, plays, random gibberish, anything that entered my mind. I lorded over the blank page like a god, controlling the entire universe. Characters lived and died or loved and cried, depending on my mood at the time. I could create worlds and destroy civilizations with a few simple keystrokes. I could tell jokes, release my frustrations, or just go wild. But somewhere along the way, writing became a chore. It stopped being fun and became a task. I came to dread sitting at the computer, staring at the white negative space, beating my head against the wall as I tried to fill it in. I think it started when I was writing a script many years called "Random Order." It was my first attempt at writing a screenplay that I had the intention of making myself. I started writing it in the summer of 1998, with the hope of scrounging a few bucks together and shooting it with my friends. But along the way the script started getting attention from a few industry folks and suddenly my little project became (in my naive, inexperienced mind) an IMPORTANT PROJECT. I spent the better part of the next 6 years writing, re-writing, re-re-writing, changing, rearranging, adding, subtracting, and dividing my little movie script into something else. I spent nearly every waking moment of my life thinking about that script, and any free time I had was spent in front of a computer trying to coalesce the elements of my story into something I thought would attract Hollywood money and make me a SERIOUS FILMMAKER. And every time I printed a new draft off my printer, just as I thought I had finally cracked it, somebody else would come along and say, "Hey, we love your script, and we think we can find the money for you to make it! All you have to do is change this, this, that, and this one thing over here!" So off I would go, back to the computer and yet another draft. I had optioned it to 2 different producers at different times, each one claiming they could get it made. And all the while, I kept re-writing and re-writing. I stopped writing anything else, my narrow focus limited to seeing "Random Order" to the finish line. And when the last option ran out, I was no closer to seeing it get made than when I started. I must have written 15 drafts of that damn script over those 6 years. Some I was proud of, some I can't bear to read. Some make me physically sick to think about. All those late nights in isolation pounding at the keys taught me how (and how not) to write a screenplay. And they also taught me to hate writing. It was a hard, hard lesson to learn, one that I am still trying to come to terms with. Somewhere in that painful process, I stopped writing for me and started writing for other people. I spent all my time trying to make other people happy with my words instead of making me happy with them. So when the last option on my script expired in 2006, I sat down for one last draft. I tossed out everything I hated about the previous ones and, forgetting about budgets and other practical considerations, I wrote the script for the movie I wanted to see. I stripped away all the excess and distilled it down to the simple story I set out to tell in the summer of '98. And when it was done, I locked it in a drawer and haven't looked at it since. Ever since then, I have tried to recapture that spark I lost along the way, that spark that excited me about writing. I know it's still there somewhere, just waiting for me to fan the flames. I've written a few things here and there since then, but that passion I once had for writing has dimmed. It makes me sad sometimes, but maybe that happens to all writers. Over the years I have had dozens of other ideas for film scripts, some with enormous scope and Avatar-like budgets, others that I could shoot with a camcorder a 2 people in a single room. But every time I sit down to start writing them, I get flashbacks of what happened with "Random Order" and I freeze up. I get nervous that what happened before will happen again.

So flash-forward to the present day. I'm no longer living in L.A. I still love movies, but with a healthy dose of perspective. My experiences in the industry are too varied and insane to cover in this post, but suffice it to say my time in the film business taught me to treat it all with a liberal dose of skepticism. There is no rhyme or reason to why films get made and why they don't. It's all, if you'll pardon the expression, just random order. And I'm cool with that. And despite it all, I still want to make movies. I know a lot more about how to make them than I did back in 1998. A hell of a lot more. Making movies has been a dream of mine since I was 5 years old. It's all I know how to do, really. Every job I have ever had has in some way been preparing me for it. So I'm going to give it another shot. I'm even writing a screenplay again. It's been hard to ignore the pains of the past, but I'm working through it with each page. It's just something I have to do. Some people have to paint, some have to make music, and some have to become doctors. I have to make movies. I have to. It's just who I am. But I'm also a writer. And to ensure I don't start hating writing again, I'm re-opening this blog. This is where I'm going to come when the act of writing a screenplay starts to get to me. I'll use this space to write about anything and everything else. My likes, dislikes, opinions, interests, annoyances, and the like. I need an outlet to write for me again. Sure, the movie is for me, but I don't want to only write a screenplay. This is where all my other writing can go. I feel like the only way to reclaim my lost love of writing is to just write more. And often. There's no set topics, no rhyme or reason to what I might put here. It's just a place to put it.

1 comment:

Dan W said...

Don't Panic; remember the Languatron...