It's funny how the oddest little thing can become so significant at the oddest moment. An off-the-cuff remark from someone can be exactly what you needed to hear to brighten an otherwise gloomy crapfest of a day, and then someone's poorly phrased remark in e-mail can be enough to set you off down a homicidal raging road for an hour or two until the experiemental meds kick in and all the colors rotate back to their proper place in the spectrum.
Last week I built some rhythm on the RomCom (note to self-- as we enter the homestretch of the first draft, we're getting to the point where a TITLE might be a good idea...). I had a nice run of days where things were quiet hereabouts, so I turned off the phone, cued some mood music, and kicked ass. Something like 14 pages done in four days. No, that's not Paul Schrader writing TAXI DRIVER during a commercial break of MANNIX (whatever), but for a civilian with a life, a wife, four kids, and a double ass-load of duties and obligations elsewhere, I was pretty proud.
This week was the great equalization. Where last week words were falling from the sky, this week it seemed the sky was all that was willing to fall on me. Wrestling with all sorts of non-writing-related stuff sucked all the wind from my sails, and I was floundering hugely. I went more than five days without even OPENING the romcom script document.
And still the dates fell from the calendar. May 1-- Nicholls deadline-- now looms like the light of an oncoming train, and here I sit still putting in survey markers to lay out the possible path out of the Second Act Wilderness.
Earlier today I was fit to be tied, I was so frustrated. A Cub Scout project had mushroomed into a monster timesuck, another kid-related thing was threatening to do the same, we've had dentist appointments and rained out baseball games and this and that, and I was ready to start breaking stuff by mid-morning. I think I was starting to teeter dangerously close to some sort of real breakdown.
And then I get an email. I won’t bore with (many) specific details, but it was a totally unprompted note of support from a parent in one of the kid-related activities that I've been killing myself to perform.
"We just wanted to let you know how thrilled we are to know that you're in charge of (our son’s activity)."
Suddenly, the Suck lessened a little.
An hour later, another parent stopped by to drop off some paperwork-- totally unrelated and unknown to the previous e-mailer-- and that parent gave me another oddly well-timed pat on the back. Again, the Suck lessened.
Meanwhile, at least three friends in the extended scribosphere managed to report some sort of Major Good News this week-- managers, options, assignments, meetings, something-- and in every case, when I caught them and tried to give them congrats, they asked me about my stuff and wished me well. "Hang in there. You'll get where you're headed."
And then, oddest of the odd, The Wife came in, saw my mood this afternoon, and said 'OK, kids-- everyone outside. Dad needs to write." And she kept the monkeys off me for a full two hours. Hell, she even cooked dinner.
Let me repeat that, because I am reasonably sure that none of you truly appreciates the shattering significance of what I just said: The Wife cooked dinner.
This just does not happen. It's not that she's a bad wife (hell, she has lasted with me for fourteen years, which oughta get her a matched set of Nobels at the minimum), but cooking is not her thing, man. So when she volunteers to take that bullet, I know two things:
1) I must REALLY look pathetic and hang-dog
2) I had damned sure better do something with the gift of time she is giving me.
So again I cued some music, picked a random point in the unfinished portion of the script, and started banging keys.
90 minutes later, I'd added 9 new pages, including a nice emotional romantic set-up which dovetails right into two other scenes I'd written before but which never seemed to connect to the stuff I had in the first two acts. Suddenly, I see the first clear path from beginning to end of this story, and all I have to do is clean it up, dress it up, edit and punch up the jokes, proofcheck 3 times, sacrifice one perfect ram to the great god of screenwriting, and then hope it all comes together in time to stuff an envelope and send it toward one Mr. Greg Beal before May 1.
Weird. I have the funny feeling that I just might make it work now.