The rest of the world may happily look to January 1 as the start of a new year, but for many of the folks in my admittedly warped corner of Reality, the real lap counter for another year crawling past comes somewhere in mid/late August, as this is when the dink letters for the major screenwriting contests (Nicholl, Austin, Scriptapalooza, etc etc etc) seem to be arriving in the mail.
This is when the power players out in Hollywood seem to start trickling back in from... well, wherever they disappear to in late July-early August during that odd two or three week period of doldrums where it seems that NO call or email ever gets answered or returned.
And this is that time of the year when kids are returning to school, and all those soul-shackled morons like myself who have to split time between full-time parenting and full-time writing finally start again to have dependably useful chunks of time in which to chase screenwriting fame and glory. For an at-home parent, Summer is anything buy a vacation, as the kids are here needing/wanting such distracting items as "food" and "attention" and "emergency medical care."
So, while August might seem like the middle of the year based upon its position in the calendar, in truth for many of us it is the start of another season of hoping and dreaming. Yeah, yeah... for a few select lucky bastards there are still accounts open from last year—some few hundred folks, for example, are still in the running for the Nicholl Fellowship powerball lottery prize—but for most of us, it's now time to start gearing up for another run at the roses.
I'm feeling a tad run-down in some regards: this summer was especially exhausting due to a travel schedule which (for me) even in hindsight seems like the stuff of fiction: two trips to LA, a week in the Sierras, three out of town baseball tournaments, a week rafting on the Blanco River in central Texas... I'm still not sure how I'm going to manage all that, and it's already been managed!
Plus, I had mentally tasked myself with completing THREE new script projects this year. I'd managed two completed scripts last year—the war drama LILYA: QUEEN OF THE SKY and the action-adventure rom-com INTO THE AMAZON (co-written with PJ McIlvaine)— and felt that I'd started to get some momentum going. LILYA was well-received by every reader-pal (and I mean folks with a fair amount of objectivity and honesty) who read it and advanced in one major contest. AMAZON meanwhile had been a hoot to write and was getting a few requests and reads from various prodcos.
Then this spring... things sorta bogged down. LILYA needed a medium rewrite. AMAZON needed some serious work on one or two issues. And the problem with projects where you can see actual genuine possibility is that it then becomes doubly hard to just walk away and start something new, so I wound up spending a lot of time trying to get these two projects from last year polished up to the point where they might have some serious usefulness and attractiveness this year.
Meanwhile, there are the projects I've been trying to work on for this year's credit sheet (the rom-com and the spaghetti western projects oft referred to in this blog). Both still excite me, and both give me serious motivation to continue working, so those will now start to eat up most of my conscious working day. Hopefully (knock on wood) I'll be able to knock out the final initial draft of the rom-com in the next two weeks (or less) and then turn my attention to the western as I let the rom-com settle and mellow for a week before ripping through on a hurried edit and rewrite. Then get the rom-com to a set of a half dozen or so trusted readers, hammer down on the western, start collecting ideas for the inevitable Next Cool Thing, and then get the western polished and out to [someone who really wants to see it] so that I can then have a few weeks to settle and gear up for the screenwriter's conference at the Austin Film Festival in late October.
Come back from Austin, mope for a few days with the inevitable post-Austin blahs, and then kick ass to get something up and running in the two months still left in calendar 2006 so that I can hit 2007 running, ready to flog the holy hell out of at least four and hopefully five read-ready projects.
if I look at it all like this, it seems like a hell of a lot of work to do, and surely it is. But right now, what's really intimidating me is the next sentence... the next word... the next idea in the scene I'm trying to write.
Happy New Year, screenwriting pals. Now drop that stupid grin and get back to work. Time's a-wasting.