Monday, May 15, 2006

Making Other Plans

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. John Lennon

That line came from "Beautiful Boy", a song that, as a mother of three sons, I have no trouble relating to. Having sons is a constant reminder for me that life is fleeting and this day is mine only once. What does that have to do with screenwriting? Everything.

I know of many, many wannabe screenwriters who throw everything they have monetarily, physically, and emotionally into their dream of becoming a screenwriter without really doing anything constructive to launch or advance their careers. I don't think anyone needs to fly to Hollywood and stalk Steven Spielberg but they shouldn't wait for him to knock on their door either.

Time is passing like the steady drip of life's I.V. bag and if there is nothing else in a writer's life that brings joy or amusement, what happens if the writer is unsuccessful? Burnout sets in. With that comes bitterness, envy, and resentment. Worst of all, by the time burnout sets in, life's I.V. bag is probably already half empty.

Dreams are good. Relentlessly pursuing dreams is good. But seriously, be smart about it and get a life. Otherwise, if that dream doesn't come to fruition, you'll realize one day that life happened while you were out and you missed your daughter's cheer competition (for which she'll never forgive you) or your son's winning soccer goal (which he'll forgive, but won't forget).

What's that? You didn't even know you had a son and daughter? How are you going to write about life if you never experience it? I'm not saying that I have to be a serial killer to write about one, but I do need to know more about life than how to google.

On his blog, Christopher Lockhart reports on Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, the PGL winning duo who wrote Feast. His blog is always a great read but this one is a departure from his usual stuff and it's a nice peek into "the way a project comes together". Also interesting was his side note that the latest rumored release date for Feast is October.

Some might envy that these two guys who pursued their dream in front of a national audience, found a degree of success and now have somebody like Christopher Lockhart in their corner. But Marcus isn't resting on his laurels and commitment doesn't merit envy. It merits replication. (So, I'll instead be envious that Marcus spent a day watching Frank Darabont film a t.v. pilot)

Envy intimates that the reward was somehow not earned or deserved. Marcus Dunstan had a dream. He chased it. He caught it. But, what if you can't run as fast as Marcus? What if you run faster than Marcus but tear a hamstring? What else have you got?

My sons are all jumping milestones today -- a birthday, a driver's license, a career training opportunity. Sometimes I've wanted to scream at the eldest to get his butt back in college and stop chasing the same ol' rainbow he's been after since he was seventeen. But, how could I do that while chasing one of my own? So, instead, I told him to chase that rainbow with all his might but only if --

(1) he's wholly committed
(2) he's training to do what it takes to catch it
(3) he has something else to balance his life

Today, he just may just have that rainbow by the tail. But, if it slips away, he still has birthday cake to eat with one brother and a used Honda to ride along in with another.


Anonymous said...

the gossip I read was the Weinstein's took Feast with them to their new venture, and then took it completely off the table and it may never come out now....

mernitman said...

Hey, your three rules for rainbow-chasing are GOLD. Every son (or daughter) should have a mom to lay that out for them.

...and, wait a second, if you put it on a T-SHIRT...!

Anonymous said...

BTW, when I hover over you link off my page (no I am not being naughty with that) it says you are the 3rd most popular link off my page... how cool is that? I know that an $2.35 gets you a small mocchachino, but what the heck, I'll drink to anything today

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Third? Who is FIRST and SECOND and how do I campaign to move up? Guess I need to post on your blog more frequently --

Optimistic_Reader said...

MaryAn, I have nothing more insightful to say than: lovely post.

wcdixon said...

nicely put...

Anonymous said...

but you are already #1 in my book, that was from others linking off my page (wink) hiccup!

Bonnie said...

Promised I would come say hello... so HELLO!

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Billy, Optimistic and WC -- thanks. Don't blog for compliments but sure is nifty to get one now and then. T-shirt, hmm....

Bonnie -- did you color your hair?

Todd, #1 seems to be your "post a comment" link thingie. Still can't find number two but looking!

Devin B. said...

Good sound advice (packed full of wisdom and truth).

I'm new to many games (screenwriting, and soon... FATHERHOOD!), and have chased after my share of dreams in 35 years on the planet. One thing I know (which rings true with what you stated) is that you can't put all of your eggs in one basket -- you can't put all of your hopes and dreams on a single 'thing'. If that 'thing' is all you've got (or the only 'thing' you allow yourself to have), you have become a three-legged chair. Guess what happens when you try and sit in down... BOOM!

I'm truly blessed in life (I have a great wife, a nice job, a comfy home, a great family, and now a little one on the way). If nothing ever happens with my screenplays, I can reflect with pride over having created one in the first place (STILL an achievement in and of itself). The process is a lot of fun... but it is not ALL that I am, nor will it ever be ALL that I am capable of. I paint... draw... sculpt... write... and dream constantly. It's a single outlet.

You have a very thoughtful blog which I appreciate very much!

Best Regards,

Systemaddict said...


Can't say it any better. Balance is so key...and not resting on it is as important.

I've found this with actors (Which I am considered at times)...they often wait for "their next big audition" or 'thier chance to prove they've got it'...but that isn't handed out as frequently as most like to dream.

Without an utter relentless refusal to accept anything less than more from yourself each and every time is to accept being a step away from the door you were reaching for in the first place. But is also doesn't matter if that door is open if you've lost everything outside of it when you get there...

I'll stop talking, I'm confusing myself. nice post.