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.