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.