OK, so despite the ass-over-teakettle wipeout of a major software burp earlier in the week which cost me 10 great days work at a point where I do NOT have any extra time in which to make up that lost time, I still feel... annoyingly good and optimistic.
Something must seriously be wrong, as I'm hardly ever admittedly self-confessedly (is that a word?) optimistic, but for now I feel good.
Why? I'm not entirely sure. I know that I am buried alive under various distracting and competing obligations— Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Little league, PTA, pre-school, dentists, an ongoing family medical crisis (which has not and likely will not rate specific discussion out here), etc., etc., etc.—yet somehow everything still feels pretty cool.
My present theory is that I am on some odd vicarious high stemming from the success and good news so many of my peers and pals seem to be bathing in these days:
• bestest buddy Julie O is currently in New Orleans on the set of her first feature screenplay sale, now in production with Warren Zide of American Pie fame. Julie's screenplay is one that I remember reading in numerous draft variants over the past few years, so watching it "grow up" and bloom into an actual for-real movie is absurdly cool for me (and others) to witness. I can only imagine (or try) what odd feelings of rapturous joy and nauseating anxiety must be hitting her right now. It's one thing to imagine a movie in your head for years, but to see an army of strangers all spending days in a coordinated effort to turn your words into a movie to be shown on a screen in front of millions... well, I can imagine dread and joy dancing an odd tango.
• pals Steve Barr and Tina Joey (Jingleheimer Schmidt) Anderson recently inked a major development deal with Disney/PiXAR for their long-simmering PLANT LIFE project. Again, it seems like I've been hearing about and watching this little project struggle and fight toward the light for years, so when word came down that they'd finally "bagged the big one" as John C McGinley said in WALL STREET, I think a great many of us wanted to do that thing from the end of OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN—just sob and clap and shout "Way to go, Paula! Way to go!"
• online pal Jonathan King continues to ride a tall and perfect wave of joy as his goofy killer farmcritter epic BLACK SHEEP continues to do good business around the world. I met Jonathan live and in person for the first time in Austin a month or so ago after swapping mail and silliness with him online for years through a group of writers and filmmakers we both know. Again, seeing someone you know stand and grin a painfully wide smile of proud joy as strangers line up to slap him on the back and say "hey, man-- great job!" is one of those cool experiences I never grow tired of, as I get to see someone in a totally honest and real moment of joy without having to wrestle with any of the weirdness and confusion that my own self-loathing would prompt if it were ME in that spotlight.
• on the publishing front, longtime online snarking buddy Cornelia Read hit the big time last year when her debut novel A Field Of Darkness came out to stellare reviews and solid sales. Cousin Cornelia wound up nominated for an Edgar (Allan Poe Award) for "Best Debut Novel," and she just turned in a draft of her follow-up, The Crazy School (coming in early 2008).
Cornelia reports that she's suddenly getting attention and interest from Hollywood, with rumors of possible screenwriting offers blowing in the wind like stray newspaper pages ("where do they come from/ How does this start?"). Again, I've watched Cornelia for years as the manuscript for what would become A Field started as an idea, grew into a major project, found a patron, then a publisher, and then started to garner praise and publicity. It's yet one more item of proof in the case that "absurd dreams really can come true... so long as you are stupendously talented and relentlessly dedicated to chasing down that damned rainbow like you are a hungry lion two steps behind a wounded wildebeest.
• also in books, Deb Chesher is nearing completion on work of her self-published coffee-table photo-opus Everyone I Shot Is Dead. a collection of some pretty freakin' incredible candid and private shots of a heartbreaking number of now-departed names from the rock and roll pantheon. Deb is now based in LA and also chasing screenwriting and producing glory, but in some odd previous life she was a rock babe in the early 70s, partying with and snapping shots of pretty much every major band and player you can think of from that time. The new book chronicles just how many of those folks have passed on and are no longer with us. It's a huge labor of love, and Deb's been pouring insane sweat and soul into this for years, so I have ever faith and confidence that her investment will pay huge dividends, as there's no way either to fake or conceal that sort of passion. (BTW-- pre-ordered copies of her book would surely make excellent Christmas gifts...).
Meanwhile, I sit here hammering away on an outline for what well may be the goofiest screenwriting idea I have ever seriously pursued. Without giving away the coolness, just think TREMORS and you'll be close enough for government work, pal. I've got a fistful of names of producers who all claim to want to see this damned thing when I get it written, and I also have some other projects folks seem excited by and hopeful for, and for a variety of reasons all too disconnected and vague and just plain squirrelly, for once in a long time the absence of anything concrete and definitively encouraging is not in and of itself grounds for depression.