Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Writing Process or Stop Blinking At Me Wretched Cursor

                I was meant to write.  The way George Carlin was meant to do stand up, Steven Spielberg was meant to direct, and John Lennon was meant to have incredibly crappy taste in Asian women.  Chevy Chase once said that when you discover what you are really good at, it comes to you rather naturally; no doubt referencing his uncanny ability for picking lousy scripts post Fletch.  Writing does come rather naturally to me – always has.  It is built into my very fiber of being and I am at my most confident and free when I am in the midst of stringing together words, phrases, and ideas in intelligent, clever ways.   I’ve never snorted cocaine or shot heroin.  I only took ecstasy once in the hopes of improving my bond with the girl I had just started dating at the time. (All it gave me was one mind numbing headache, much like she did during our tumultuous time together).  Yet I can’t imagine any of these narcotics or stimulants holding a candle to this creative addiction for which I have neither the methodology nor the desire to find a cure. 
                So then why in the Hell am I staring at a blank screen?
                While it is true that writers can be procrastinators of the highest order (I have cleaned yards, rearranged garages, and walked dogs and children across the greater San Fernando Valley to be a member of good standing in the order of dawdling), it’s not for lack of ideas – quite the opposite.  A writers’ antenna is wired to transcribe in entertaining detail life experiences both exotic and mundane, resulting in a logjam of concepts that constantly fight for release from the mind like NBA centers positioning themselves for a rebound.   Everything is in play…and EVERYTHING is daunting.  But if you’re afraid, buy a dog. (And there’s my dog now.  Look, she needs a walk.  I’ll be back later.}
                So seriously, what happens once one of these embryonic conceptions breaks through the whirlwind and carries its way from the brain to the computer screen via the stroking of the keyboards?  You have to make like Ferris Bueller and take the Ferrari out for a spin…assuming it is, in fact, a Ferrari.  Like it or not, as you begin to expand on the thought, far more of your ideas will turn out to be Pearl Jam post 1990’s than Pearl Jam first three albums.  It’s hard to decipher or admit when something of your creation is garbage, but much like Andy in Shawshank, you too must crawl through a river of excrement in order to come out clean on the other side, armed with an idea that’s worthy of expansion.  
                But how do you expand it in a way that delivers what you are trying to say and does so in an entertaining manner?  This part is much like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, looking down at her atrophied limbs and stating over and over again “Wiggle your big toe.”   Because once you answer that question, the hard part’s over…and now you start cooking.  The idea takes shape, expands, binds the points you want to make together, and opens itself up to humorous anecdotes and snarky one liners.  Before you know it, you’ve completed your piece.
Yeah, if you consider completed how you felt when the screen went black on the final episode of The Sopranos.
My ultimate goal in life is to be a screenwriter and if writing is rewriting, than screenwriting is rewriting and rewriting…..and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting some more.  There no doubt comes a point that no matter how big a fan of your work you are (and make no mistake, you better damn well be your biggest fan) even you cry out “IT’S JUST EXPOSITION!!!”  But it’s what you must do to get it right.
Finally the moment comes where you have completed your work, taking it from beginning to end with the precision of a car collector rebuilding a ’65 Mustang from scratch.  You are proud, as well you should be.  You look forward to showing it to people, secure that they too will appreciate its brilliance.  Only thing is, everybody’s a critic and everybody’s got their opinion.  Professionals call them notes; friends call them “I didn’t really like when…” And you know what?  More times than not, they’re right…which means you’re going through the whole arduous process again Bunky.    
And you know what happens while you’re going back through the looking glass?
Another embryonic conceptions breaks through, and you find yourself right back in front of a blank screen, trying to make something else come to life and wondering  how you‘re ever going to juggle so many thoughts simultaneously.
How do you think I ended up creating a blog while rewriting scripts?

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  1. I hear ya, Mike! Keep at it. You have to. You're in that sometimes-frustrating position of being blessed with so much talent that it becomes your karmic obligation to share it with the world.

  2. I know how you feel, but keep pressing on!!! It will happen!!