Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Joy in the Journey

After days of gnashing my teeth because the online Nicholl form was infested with bugs (why am I picturing Greg Beal stomping on cockroaches?), it finally stopped whining that it couldn't locate its own server and accepted my application and my credit card. The bad news is that I failed to realize all that grief wouldn't save me the trouble of mailing in a hard copy. Argh.

Oh well. Anything worth doing requires effort and, in this case, you also need gasoline, a trip to the post office, an extra inkjet cartridge, a whole punch that doesn't jam, cardstock, brass brads, a priority mail envelope, $4.50 for postage & delivery confirmation, something to scrape off the gum your shoe found in the parking lot AND the patience to stand in an insanely long line at the post office behind a woman with a screaming baby WHILE wishing you'd bothered to put make up on BECAUSE a dozen or so people are wishing you well on your new job SINCE you know darn near everyone who walks into the post office AND the one person you don't know is six feet tall, brown eyed, effortlessly holding a large box under his bulging bicep, and has not taken his eyes off that darling pink spaghetti top you bought on clearance yesterday BUT sneers at your Steve Perry "Don't Stop Believing" ringtone WHEN your future boss calls your cell phone to remind you to go pee in a cup.

Heh. Bite me, pal. Nobody sneers at Journey in my presence.

I'm not entirely sure why I want to put myself through the agony of receiving another "regrettably" letter from Greg Beal. The Nicholl gets well over 6,000 entries and they can't all be good, can they? I mean, some of them have to suck. Somebody has to come in 6,000th right? You know what? I think last year, it was me.

But, I'm still writing.

Last year, I knew several people who got "next 100" and "top ten percent" letters. I wasn't one of them. Even though I didn't advance in either the Nicholl or the AFF, it was uber cool to read posts from finalists and even winners whose names I recognized as frequent or occasional posters on Wordplay. I probably won't advance this year either. Don't get me wrong. My work is good -- just not good enough -- yet.

So, I'm still writing.

It's actually been almost three years now since I started writing my first screenplay so I'm still pretty much a screenwriting infant. I've got a long way to go if I want to compete with those people who have been at this for ten or more years, gone to film school, live in Hollywood and bump into A listers at Starbucks.

So, I'm still writing.

Monday, it's back to a world where people return my calls, speak to me with respect, admire me for my accomplishments, and are grateful to have me in their corner. In this world, the big dog seeks me out, my letters get opened, people look at me and say, "damn, you're good", I never have to buy my own lunch unless I want to, I get a regular paycheck and headhunters try to steal me away from the guy I just agreed to give a minimum of two years.

But, I'm still writing. Job or no job. I'm still writing.

In the past couple of days, I've run across several "goodbye, cruel world" posts on blogs of wannabe screenwriters who have thrown in the towel. I understand their frustration because I've walked in their moccasins. But, I like moccasins.

You know, it's really not always about winning or even advancing. Yeah, discouragement sets in now and then, but sometimes, outcome be damned, the joy is simply in the journey. Well, unless, of course, you're standing in line at the post office.


Lucy said...

God I hate the PO. Do they have the same automated, super-hyped, boy-girl hybrid voice in the US as they do the UK, "Cashier number SEVEN THOUSAND AND EIGHTY please!"?

Waiting in between those ribbons is so degrading AND never stop old grannies from pushing ahead of you. When you try and tell them, they'll pretend to be deaf or worse, tell you they were in the war. Well thanks very much, I am grateful, but I want my place back in the queue!!!

Good luck though with Nicholls...

Anonymous said...

if you are a screenwriting infant at three years writing, I must be the equivalent of my father's gleam in his eye or amoeba stage ha! I feel like the newbie on the block sometimes. I am entering my first contest ever and it's going to be the Nicholl. Good luck, maybe we can clink glasses on stage in Nov?

MaryAn Batchellor said...

I would gladly clink glasses if I'm not spewing champagne everywhere.

Brett said...

It's weird, isn;t it?

It seems as though the past two years have been a huge "boom time" for new wannabees jumping onto the Gravy Train rumbling the Glory Road to the wonders of Screenwriting Success, and I'll think I'll just double-tap this entire damned sentence before I Randomly capitalize some other odd phrase for No Apparent Reason.

Maybe the worm has turned or some such rot, as there does not seem to be a congruent mass exodus of wannabees from the train these days. I guess it was supposed to be easy, and if they didn't find huge seven-figure success after fourteen months and one mediocre script worth of effort, clearly the writing is on the wall and it's time to give stamp-collecting or home-brewing a try, right?

I'm being nasty, I s'pose, but truly -- much like pimpin', writin' ain't easy. Writing well for money is double damned difficult. Writing well enough to make money as a professional screenwriter is one of those things like "bumblebee flight" which surely is demonstrably impossible according to the laws of logic and physics.

Except... much like that damned happily-hovering bumblebee, for the realwriters out there -- the ones who might one day break through for some kind of actual success -- there is a secret that doesn't appear in any of the equations and logical analyses: "sometimes you just gotta be too damned dumb to quit."

I penned my first screenplay back in 1989. Parts of it were great, while more and larger parts of it sucked greating heaping gobs of warm air. I fell off the screenwriting badwagon for a decade in there (another ramble for another day), but in the past two years I've been slogging away, making progress in small but noticable steps.

I'll get there -- I'll break through at some point. I have no doubt. Mainly because I'm just not going to stop until I do.

March or die. Find a way -- make a way.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

There's a tribe in Madagascar where the women go to the river and throw blood in the water to attract crocodiles so they can pray to the beasts for fertility. Okay, so maybe crocodiles are gods of fertility, but I'm willing to bet the women still have to have sex before the croc grants their wish!

Point is -- a lot of wannabe writers out there want the results and I understand that, but they want them instantly and don't want to (or claim they can't) do what it takes to become the kind of writer they need to be in order to get sold.

As for those women in Madagascar. Well, even if they don't get pregnant, disappointing for them as it must be, they can at least enjoy the process of trying.

And while I'm flinging analogies, nobody rides a roller coaster or a merry-go-round to get some place. There's no shame in that.