8.31.2006

Why Nobody Sleeps with The Screenwriter

Filling out a questionnaire yesterday at the doctor’s office, I was struck by my abject failure to meet the standards of normalcy by which the world is apparently judging me.

Are you employed?
Sometimes.
Are you sexually active?
Meaning with other people?
Are your parents still living?
Yes, but they’re on a cruise somewhere off the coast of Turkey and can’t be reached.

Okay, so I don’t work regularly or have any close, meaningful relationships with anyone but the two small dogs I sleep with. I’m not a freak. I’m just a screenwriter. Okay, so maybe I’m a freaky screenwriter. I mean, when my producer called to ask what I was doing for the holiday weekend, I couldn’t decide whether to ask what holiday or what weekend. I don’t care for either one, truth be told, since this is when regular people break free from their desks and take to the streets that otherwise belong exclusively to me. They fill my movie theater, storm my dry cleaner and overwhelm my farmer’s market, bringing their hyperactive children along for added noise and snot.

Even for an avowed misanthrope, working at home can be a double-edged sword. I tend to work many more than eight hours a day, since it’s hard to find a reason to stop. There are no secret office crushes to run into on the way to the bathroom, no coffee klatches, no water cooler chats about who showed up at the Emmys looking like a chandelier. 

On the plus side, it’s after noon and I’m still in my P.J.’s, despite having gotten up early to e-mail a revised outline on my new feature assignment to the studio. It’s a comfy shortie tank set with a built in bralette, so I don’t scare the neighbors with anything pendulous when I go out to fetch the mail and poop the dogs at three, five and ten, after the back-to-back repeat showings of The Office. Until then, they’ll be lying here beside me—Vienna on the couch where I sit to write in front of my laptop; Oscar on a big feather pillow he likes me to set out for him on the floor.

Yes, dogs and screenwriter appreciate the familiarity of routine just as much as the next guy. I generally begin the day with an on-line run through the “Scribosphere,” which feels like saying good morning to my assorted co-workers. With few exceptions, like Ken Levine and Alex Epstein, both former TV showrunners who would thus make excellent party hosts, blogging screenwriters tend to work in the more isolating world of features. One of my favorite chapters in Alex’s new book, Crafty TV Writing, is about making the transition to writing on staff versus writing alone, with passages called “Who Are All These People?” and “Playing Nice With The Other Kids.”

I don’t wanna. I just want to sit here all day and make stuff up, even though in some circles that might be defined as the early stages of psychosis. So what if my doctor thinks I’m crazy. He gets paid to listen to the heart I pour out free of charge. To that end, I’m always surprised when people comment on my blog, or call my manager to set up a meeting, or offer to pay money, of all things, to buy my work. Most of the time, I forget you’re even there.

17 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:00 PM

    I love your blog!!! And I, too, love "old Hollywood".

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  2. I think I'd be fun at a party...

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  3. Just remember that when you start collecting your urine in old milk bottles it's time to get some fresh air and meet people.

    On another note, I heard on NPR today that there is a direct correlation between expensive screenplays and big box office whereas there is no correlation between expensive movie stars and box office. You should mention that when you sell your next script.

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  4. Until doctor questionnaires start asking things like, "do you collect hat pins, empty margarine tubs or dryer lint?" and "how many varieties of mold and fungus are in your fridge?", I wouldn't worry.

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  5. I entirely FORGOT it was a holiday weekend. They're all a blur when you schedule yourself, yes this is the blessing and the curse.

    And sometimes even I forget I'm here.

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  6. Anonymous2:12 PM

    Hey there...So true! So true! We screenwriters don't quite live in the same world...By the way, do you have a myspace page?
    Just wondering?
    M

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  7. I think you just described the life all of us are dying to live.

    In fact, that IS my weekend life, except I usually add some drunk dancing. Oh, to live it every day....

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  8. "are you employed?" - not really

    "are you sexually active?" - ummmm in what sense do you mean 'active'?

    parents? What, I have to account for them too, now?

    but can I have your pyjamas? They look like cool writer pyjamas to me

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  9. Great entry.

    BTW, in reference to Black Dahlia. Sofia looks just like New York if you ignore the cyrillic everywhere and don't aim a camera about shoulder height. Which is exactly what I was told by a Line Producer I met with when I was scouting there.

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  10. Am I supposed to get out of my jammies today? My dog (Simon) doesn't think so.

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  11. I drove to Castroville and bought a crate of artichokes. Now that's a weekend.

    Mainly I just wanted to remind you of me.

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  12. "I just want to sit here all day and make stuff up."

    Isn't that why we all wanted to get into this business? But then, the business part got involved.

    Great post!

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  13. What you do is far better than working in corporate america.

    I want to make things up all day! ;-)

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  14. Um, Julie, Darling? Reminding you of us again.

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  15. the cool thing about working from home is you get to stay in your pj's all day and not shower for days on end. and yes, you get LOTS more work done.

    in my crazier days I used to stay in my robe when execs came over for meetings. jeez i miss those days.

    it started getting out of hand when i showed up to meetings in my pjs....

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  16. Don't disappear on us. How can we live vicariously through you if you go MIA?

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  17. I've just discovered your blog and it looks like you've disappeared.

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