18 May 2006

tick tock (and a fistful of Godfather refs)

The clock on the wall goes round and round...
round and round...
round and round...
The clock on the wall goes round and round...
...all through the day.

It's the morning of Thursday 18 May hereabouts. What time is it where you now sit?

I ponder that question as I sit and try to figure out if I truly have any chance of completing this silly damned western-slash-critters movie in time for some June 1 contest deadlines. if it were a question as simple as "can you get 45 pages done in [x] number of days?" that would be one thing, but right now I can’t even tell for sure how many days I have. I mean, I know when the deadlines are, but given the crazy schedule here at the end of the kids's school year, I'm not sure how many of those days I'll actually see.

Little league games. Tournament play. Birthday parties. Sleepovers. Cub Scout trips. Boy Scout projects. Swim lessons. Blah blah blah... yeah, this is the life I have chosen (and suddenly I hear Hyman Roth lecturing Michael about Moe Green...), but that doesn't mean that sometimes it doesn’t get a bit exasperating to look up and take hard inventory of exactly what this life delivers and what it prohibits.

If I had the luxury of writing 6 hours a day, every day, no matter what, my "career" would surely develop faster. But would that really be worth all that it would require that I give up to get there? Some would say yes, some would say no, and some would surely sit and give you the "confused dog face" of a half cocked head and a quizzical uncomprehending look.

Just when I think I'm done with the "distractions" (and let's be honest: these are not distractions so much as they are other obligations upon which I have consciously chosen to place emphasis), more come along. Or, again reffing Michael Corleone, "just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in." The real joke, of course, is thinking that you're ever going to change your own stripes to the point where things will change — can change. In my experience, people by and large don't change much once they get past age 10 or so. After that, the clay is set, the die cast, the grooves too deeply carved, and the best you can do is effectively plan and accommodate the patterns and behaviors you have adopted.

I'm looking at 57 pages in the can for a project which likely will require 95 or so pages to complete. After I get the 95 pages down, I of course have to go back and quickly tighten and improve those pages, and then I ought to have at least one more pass to make sure that things like names and verbs and, you know, words make sense. Then slap down cash, hurl the pages at the contest window, and pray that some faceless Ramen-slurping coffee-slinger with a useless BA didn’t have a bad fight with a girlfriend that day and opt to take out the frustration on my little baby as he skimmed through it as a first round reader.

In other words, I might bust ass to get across the finish line only to find that the effort was totally unimpressive to the one person assigned to score that effort, in which case we just hitch up the lederhosen and start all over again. The one thing that keeps it all from driving me absolutely bat-shit fucking crazy is the third and final Michael ref of the day:

"We'll get there, Pop. We'll get there."

'Course, it might turn out that I was born the wrong brother, and at heart I'm nuthin' but a Fredo.

In which case, worrying is just a waste of time anyway.

Which brings some small portion of comfort.

cannoli-keepin' B


Chesher Cat said...

Sounds like me on April 18...trying to hit it for the May 1 Nicholl deadline. I made it. Which also meant I got to save the 10 bucks on Austin. :-)

Lock the kids in the basement with a couple of video games, a loaf of bread and some water. I promise I won't call Social Services.

Anonymous said...

I did Nicholl, AAA and Final Draft's Big Break... all the same screenplay so if I win the Nicholl and one of the others I could be in trouble... but what are the odds of that happening?

Systemaddict said...

So for a young writer...shall I postpone the seemingly welcoming loins of my beautiful girl? Is that what I gather? Or at least until I've made headway into the path of payroll...

That's a good deadline for me.


Adam Renfro said...

It's time to become a Guerrilla Screenwriter.