Monday, August 11, 2008

Cutting Out The Parentheses

(I'm a brattykins for the following entry, because I've spent the past two weeks at the housesitting house, in which I enjoyed sunrises and sunsets, so please dismiss the following as the whinings of one very ungrateful bitch. I know, I know, I know.)

Two things happened in recent days that were the perfect opposite of each other so my first thought was WHOOO HOOOO! I FINALLY HAVE SOMETHING TO BLOG ABOUT!

The annual Act One Alumni Barbeque was this past Friday and in addition to catching up with old friends, I was introduced to a small group of newbies still going through the writing program (they’re doing the Saturday program. They’ve given up their Saturdays for something like 7 to 8 months if not more. That truly boggles my mind.) I rambled and danced in my habitual You Can DO It pep talk that provokes stares that could be either awe or um, get away from me, you crazy person.

I know to these newbies and others, it looks like I’m super groovy cool these days. I sold a script (for little to no money.) That script got made into a movie (which may or may not go anywhere.) But I’m not really anybody. Nobody should truly listen to me. I don’t blame these newbies if they write me off as crazy. Who am I to tell anyone how to do it, when the majority of my body of work hasn’t sold. Yet.

If you’re gonna listen to anyone, listen to my buddy Donald. Donald is a heavy hitter, he’s sold scripts for gobs and gobs of money. What Donald said is that I’m not supposed to say the above paragraph with the parentheses parts (for little to no money.) (which may or may not go anywhere.) Donald says I should enjoy the good parts without adding the parentheses part, because there will ALWAYS be a parentheses part, do you wanna see the glass as half full or half empty, you have to be in control of your own spin, so make it positive, la l alaaaaa. Donald does the exact same thing as me with the parentheses parts, by the way, but he deals with it by telling me not to do it, ha ha.

Regardless, Donald was not there to talk to the newbies (he actually was at the barbeque, but had his hands full with his adorable daughter who kept singing a pirate song) so I was explaining to the newbies that if you want to be a writer, you have to be in it for the long haul. You have to keep writing, even if nobody wants to buy your stuff. You have to keep writing, you have to be a little bit crazy, obsessive, stirring a cauldron of arrogance, mania, yet humility not just to keep going, but to keep revising your own stuff. No, my stuff is good. No, my scripts WILL sell. They just haven’t yet. They’re good, they’re great, but I still have to keep working and working and rewriting until they sell. I’m not stopping, not until I become a professional screenwriter who’s sold enough stuff to buy a house of my own, a hybrid car, and a comfy chair. Even then, I’m not stopping, because I’m a writer, and this is what I do. I write. And then I rewrite. I write. I rewrite.

Then I got an email that a college buddy of mine, who I had gone through film school with, who I had worked on more than a few projects with, who had been out there in L.A. longer than I have, is moving back home. I don’t know the reasons why, maybe I’ll learn them later. And I get bummed out. He was trying to achieve something, (though I’m not sure what, let’s say a happy life in Los Angeles), and it didn’t happen for him. Not as though he didn’t give it his all. Not as though he didn’t work his ass off for it. It just didn’t happen for him.

The Olympics are on. I love the Summer Olympics. I was a gymnast and then a hurdler growing up, so I like watching those events. But I wasn’t top notch on either of them. I never won anything, the best I’d ever do would be to place fourth or fifth, and that sometimes would be enough to get a point or two that the team needed to win an overall competition. I trained my butt off, I was 90 pounds when I was a sophomore in high school because of it (and oh my GOD, the screeches, wails, and utter confusion that ensued when puberty along with its 15 pounds showed up.) But I never got any better. I worked and worked and worked and never got any better than an 8.15 on the vault, and fifth in the state championship of 100 meter hurdles. Some might say that’s good. But no athlete ever trains to win anything less than first place. Just like no writer ever writes to win anything less than a solid big money sale. A good story well told is good. A good story well told that earns its fair market value is even better.

So when I hear of someone else making a huge decision and moving home, I get a little skittish, a little melancholy, a little worried. It didn’t happen for them. And maybe, despite all my hard work, it might not happen for me. Maybe I won’t get better. Maybe what I think is merely downtime before the upswing of success is self delusion, and there is no upswing of success.

I wrote an exchange of dialogue recently, “You really have a lot of growing up to do.” “That’s too bad, because this is as big as I get.” Okay, it was a dog saying it, but still.

I read somewhere that worrying is just a way of praying for what you don’t want to happen. But with that in mind, it’s awful hard to be able to think of ANYTHING without sliding into Worryland and its parentheses parts. There’s a film that’s got “written by Amy The Writer” on it! (it won’t do anything, a mere blip of false hope), I’m writing a new play! (it won’t be as good as the last one.) I’m working on a kick ass high concept idea (that you had to go back to the drawing board on to do a new outline on, someone will write that kick ass idea and sell it before you.) and that’s not even counting the two boards I’m on for various groups and how annoying they are, the new Blood Drive I’m setting up for September, and the continuing fog that is my personal life.

I set my mind to be positive about these things, to cut away the parentheses parts. Am I being wonderfully determined in a way that will pay off spectacularly later? Or am I wonderfully lying to myself again?

Okay, I should send up a prayer here, be publicly accountable and crap. Everyone buckle up.

Dear God. HI! (insert spastic hand waving, in case He can’t see me.) Thank You that I get another day! A day in which, so far, nothing’s gone wrong, and I don’t think I’ve sinned majorly! Woot!

So God, I know very well the parts in the Bible where You command us not to worry, and Jesus’ talk that the flowers in the field don’t worry, and the birdies in the air don’t worry, and that’s all well and good except flowers don’t have brains, and human brains are bigger than birds and we’ve got more to do, and all the bird does is surf the wind currents anyway, but WHATEVER.

You don’t want me to worry. So MAKE IT STOP ALREADY! Oh, see, when I say, make it stop, I mean, give me the supernatural strength to turn my thoughts away from dwelling in paranoid fantasies about how people are plotting to either ignore me, or bamboozle me into doing all the work for them (it depends on the person.) Distract me with other things to do so I won’t remember to worry. Give me discipline to focus on writing, and to work on a good story well told, as opposed to worrying that other more well connected people are telling that good story faster than me.

And please be with my friends who have financial issues, health issues, job issues, heart issues, my friend who’s moving back home, my friends in Kenya on their mission trip, and the family who lost the recently born two-faced kitten.

Please change the people who annoy the shit out of me. No, wait, sorry, I’m supposed to pray for the strength to deal with those people, to see them as You see them, that they’re all uniquely children of You. Give me that strength. Give me that grace. Give me that peace. No wait, peace isn’t a gift, it’s a spiritual fruit that comes from a life that’s um, well, much more sane than mine.

I think if You give me strength, everything else will follow. And help me to feel that the strength is coming from You, as opposed to what I can do on my own. Because I know that I can’t do anything on my own, it all comes from You, but it still feels like I’m doing it on my own, because you didn’t give me these abs, I do 300 situps a day to get them, except I didn’t do them Saturday or Sunday, so that obviously means they’re flabby abs now.

Sigh. I need help, God. Honestly. Please send me some. Love, Amy The Writer.

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