In thinking about this blog post, I came up with a grocery shopping list of why I’m leaving behind the game of writing prose and moving on to something else. The more I thought about it, the more I realized every reason was a story I told myself in hopes of making sense of a preference.
Just a preference. Nothing more.
As I waited for the new direction to take shape, I dawdled around with an online class about Human Irrational Thinking, thinking it would be something like one of the tens of books written for the general public. Not even close. The class was intense, academic, an overload of dense reading, and very Duke University. Not what I expected but still fun, and one of the first lectures validated my thoughts. We’re irrational by nature, and everything we think we know about what we do are stories we tell ourselves in hopes of making sense of our irrational nature. This seems to be particularly true in interpreting scientific data. Bummer, huh.
So off I go to the world of scriptwriting, leaving behind prose, and doing so just because.
This blog will stay and be the same, only different (a standard line in Hollywood).
As much as I’ve struggled with every single blog post I’ve made here and elsewhere, and as much as I’ve dreaded the thought of digging up something to blog about, I can’t wait to let her rip about what I see in films and TV. The depth of character, the insights into humanity, the power of storytelling, and magic of collaboration have started a fire in my head I’m anxious to share. But I’ll be doing that sharing in the form of questions rather than dictates. In the screenwriting workshops I’ve been busy taking, rather than blogging, the thing that’s struck me most is how projects are workshopped through questioning rather than pedantry. I like that style and I’ll stick with it.
Having said there’s nothing rational about this change, or human thinking, there are some inescapable facts. In making this change I’ve briefly considered the facts, as best I can understand them, and they are:
- There is one, and only one, requirement for writing an accepted script: It has to achieve the impossible.
- The probability of busting into the business are slim to none.
- Once you’re in, you remain in only as long as you continue achieving the impossible.
- Scriptwriters work longer and harder than any other writers.
- You can’t blog, promote, bullshit, or hustle a script into production. There’s too much at stake. (I like this one the most. Film is America’s second largest export and the most powerful source of influence on the planet. The biggest animals in the film food chain have very few twitter followers yet control billions of dollars. When something like $12,000,000 is spent on just the pilot of a TV show, nobody cares how many fans and followers you have, that script and franchise damned well better float high above the water.)
- Hollywood is the smallest town in America and a place where you can have the greatest reach and influence with only a handful of people knowing your name. Celebrities are the front men and women of the illusion.
Every job is like a penny in that it has two sides. One side is shiny, the other is a mess. My counsel to the hundreds of my husband’s students dealing with the uncertainties of senior year and the transition into whatever is waiting for them is to take a hard look at the ugly side of their choices and decide which kind of ugly they can handle. What are the pitfalls of failure that come with every choice, and which of those failures bother them least?
It’s my turn in taking my own counsel. The downside of failing in this new world of prose writing and publishing would be devastating. I can’t explain why it would be devastating, especially since the rewards are so slender in comparison to other professions. I don’t feel the same about scriptwriting. If I try and try and try and fail, I’ll still feel great about having given it a shot. Talk about irrational. I don’t know, I could be dealing with burn out from all the happy posters about never giving up writers pass around. I don’t care. I’m willing to take the risk.
Now I’ve got to explain how this blog will remain the same only different.
I believe for writers to stay competitive, they’ll (we’ll?) need to come up to the bar set by visual storytelling. We’ll have to take big risks and reach for the impossible. Most of what I can currently see in visual storytelling (I’m banking on my perceptual abilities improving with increased exposure) will apply to all forms of storytelling. In short, I’ll continue to yammer on.
What will change is maintaining a second blog where I can dump strictly prose storytelling, triggered by explicating a film, TV episode, or principle of visual storytelling. I’ve got a grandfather in my lineage who hopped the boat for America from Ireland, and if the Human Genome Project is correct and every move of every ancestor is encoded in our DNA, I’m screwed by the gift of gab. I will always like telling stories without visual aids as a hobby. I have no intention of backing down on becoming a better at telling those stories. I don’t want to make a living out of it, nor do I need an audience. It is, once again, a preference, and I want to do it the best I can. That’s how this blog will remain the same only different (there are multiple levels of meaning in that sentence – take whichever one appeals to you).
I’m also moving this over to self-hosting, and that could take some time. After six months, my new smart phone bests me every single time. I was born in the wrong century.
And that, as they say, is that. I’m done with digging for the heart of prose and passing along whatever I find. We have a lot of writers right now who love blogging about the writing process, and it shows in their blogging and the books they write. Dig for the ones who trip your trigger.
But for this blog about writing and blogging, it’s a wrap.
For those in love with visual storytelling and digging it against their better judgment, I’ll see you when I get back from hiatus in Houston. I going to a festival there for six days of hanging with indie filmmakers.
Until I return with photos and a clue on the new blog….