Friday, April 14, 2006

Reality Check

I just saw Garden State and heaven help me, I am Aunt Sylvia, pathetically singing Lionel Ritchie's Three Times a Lady at my sister's funeral after triumphantly redecorating her bathroom. Except, my sister would have me singing No Tengo Dinero by The Kumbia Kings and it would most likely be her kitchen that got the makeover since we actually do that every few years.

Sweet Moses, I've seen the future.

Movies take us places - past, present, and future places, places real and imaginary, places of earth and of space, but most frighteningly of all, places of the heart and soul.

Hang in there with me. I really do have a point.

I can't imagine being alone with the Mona Lisa in the Musée du Louvre, but Tom Hanks had her all to himself at 2:30 in the morning during the filming of The Da Vinci Code and when I see the film, I get to stand there with him. I'm not even slightly eager to go into space, but Apollo 13 gave me a claustrophobic seat on NASA's KC-135 airplane where it took five hundred flights, 23 seconds each, to capture the footage needed for the weightless shots.

And I can't, even in fever induced nightmares, imagine looking and sounding like Aunt Sylvia at a graveside service, but Garden State took me there and I saw myself, leathered and old, singing with that raspy voice that only comes from years of waiting tables at Waffle House while inhaling a combination of bacon grease, mothballs and secondary smoke.

Where am I going with this?

It's easy for a writer to get lost in the fantasy, especially since screenwriting, by nature, requires the suspension of reality and the creation of alternate realities and false realities. But we are not all screenwriters and we are not all capable of creating 120 pages worthy of becoming a film. Yet, how many hundreds of thousands of us are there who actually think we can? It's just not possible for there to be that many brilliant wannabe screenwriters stifled and oppressed by a golden gate that admits nepotism over talent.

Some of us have to suck!

Statistics suggest that my screenplays will never be opted or sold regardless of the number of indy producers who shower me with praise and promises. Why? Because my life is not on hold while I pursue screenwriting. I haven't made the sacrifices, earned my stripes, done the grunt work and left my home, family and job to go to Los Angeles and make a dream happen.

Does that mean I want it less? Yes, that is exactly what it means. Does that mean the guy who sells is a better writer than I am? Not necessarily. But he's willing to do whatever it takes. I'm only willing to do whatever it takes within the boundaries I've established.

If I never sell a screenplay, does that make it less worth writing? Of course not. But in those great words of John Lennon, "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". I'm a writer. I love writing. But I also love Texas sunshine, baseball, music, and mowing the grass.

Some writers will say that there will be plenty of time for all of that once I've sold a screenplay. I say there's time now. Besides, I've got lyrics to learn --

No tengo dinero
Ni nada que dar
Lo unico que tengo es amor para amar
Si asi tu me quieres te puedo querer
Pero si no puedes ni modo que

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