Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Joy in the Journey

My latest outline is healthy and whole in my head but starving and co-dependent on paper. It's a mess. Nothing on paper plays out like it should. Weird. If sit in the dark and watch the movie in my mind, I can say without hesitation. "that's the best thing I've ever written" and it's absolutely true except for the part about it being written.

In all fairness, it's kind of tough to write when Bob Hope keeps singing "Buttons and Bows" in your head. Oh, he's not singing The Paleface version that Dinah Shore later turned into a chartbuster in 1947. No, sirree, Bob. He's singing the Sunset Boulevard version where Joe Gillis goes to a New Years shindig populated by "writers without a job, composers without a publisher, and actresses so young, they still believe the guys in casting offices". They're sharing a yuk around the piano and singing --

Hollywood, for us, ain't been so good,
Got no swimmin' pool, very few clothes,
All we earn are buttons and bows.

Man, I love that movie.

I know a lot of writers who think they'll be cashing $100,000 checks some day and, who knows, maybe they will. Plenty of writers do. But even so, John Logan posted something somewhere a few years back (wish I could find it) where he breaks down that $100,000 minus the necessaries and divided by the years it took to write the screenplay. Basically, he says the writer actually earns about as much as the guy who pulls the slushie machine at your local 7-Eleven.

We know the odds. They're more stacked than the bras my sister used to stuff with chicken cutlets. Still, we write. But here's my question. If you could see into the future and knew for certain that nothing you're writing will ever be produced, opted, sold or even seen by anyone who won't use it as shavings in a gerbil cage, would you still write it?

Such is the soul of the writer -- even one whose story is penned up in her head with Bob Hope. Sure, a pig on the plate is worth two in the pen but those two in the pen will wind up on a plate sooner or later. Mmmmmmm. Bacon.

6 comments:

The Moviequill said...

yep, I write because I have to and it gives me much pleasure

MaryAn Batchellor said...

I choose to believe that writing prevents the onset dementia. Please don't tell me otherwise. Another one of my fav lines from Sunset Boulevard says something like, "you don't shout at (or is it shake?) a sleepwalker, they might hurt themselves."

Unk said...

If you could see into the future and knew for certain that nothing you're writing will ever be produced, opted, sold or even seen by anyone who won't use it as shavings in a gerbil cage, would you still write it?

You bet. But EVEN IF I KNEW THAT, I'd still try to get it produced.

Unk

Eddie M said...

It depends. Whose gerbil cage?

E.C. Henry said...

Great post, MarryAn,

I too am outlinning right now (that story for Jonny Depp I alluded to several months back) spending way-way to much time OUTLING it, and I'm finding that when outling I'm actually writing a screenplay in my outline. Crazy, I know, but sometimes you gotta roll with the creative flow.

It's called the "chaos of creation" for a reason. Glad to hear you're sold on what you're writting. THAT really helps.

To answer your question; yes, I think I would write even if no one would use my stuff. Writing is theroputic. It gives you a forum to voice your opinions and musing on life. (Of which yours are alway MOST ASTUTE). Plus, writing alows you to explore things and understand them better. A Discovery Channel of the mind, if you will.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Fun Joel said...

To be honest, if I knew that. then no I wouldn't. Hope that doesn't make me less of a screenwriter.

Well, actually, to be precise I should say that no, I wouldn't continue to write screenplays. Of course I would continue to write, but screenplays are only useful if they get made into films. If I write to connect with people, then writing scripts that no one would ever connect with seem kind of pointless, no?