I've started writing a post about a 'bucket list' of projects I want to take on during my extended period of unemployment. (This will follow up my "scheduling" post.) The section about 'why I'm doing a bunch of writing projects' ballooned in size until I figured I should post it as its own thing.
I'm going to start this section with a couple of metaphors.
First one: say you woke up one morning, stepped outside your front door, and you saw a 2011 Lamborghini Aventador parked in your driveway. The key was in the door, with a note attached: "drive this for as long as you like today".
Would you take the day off and go driving? Yes, you would.
Second one: most of my life, I've found that I get by fairly well on little sleep. That said, I've only ever pulled one all-nighter for school, and I can only think of one other time I stayed awake for more than 24 hours (a trans-Pacific flight was involved [I can't sleep on planes]).
So when I got invited to do the 42-hour Improv Marathon, I leapt at the chance. Any sensible person would say 'no' to staying up for nearly two days doing shows. Me, I wanted to see what I was capable of.
Okay, first off, the car is about opportunity.
Here, now, in Austin, in 2011, with the connections that I've got, the respect that I've garnered, and the skills that I sort-of-middlingly have, I have an opportunity most people don't have:
I can write scripts and get them made.
I'm not talking crazy here. No, I'm not one of the maybe dozen people in the world who can write a script and get it made as a Hollywood feature. But half of my friends are actors, and half of *them* are wannabe filmmakers.
If I wrote an audiodrama, I could gather up my friends to act in it, take us to the Art Institute, and have one of the longform-audio classes record it there in their multimillion-dollar studio. Alternately, I could get an interview/performance slot at KOOP, take the cast there, and perform it for some thirty-five thousand Austinites. And I could hand a recording off to Andrew, who has been begging me to get him audio content that he can distribute.
Things would be dodgier if I wrote a short film, but I could still get it amateurishly produced. There would be friends begging to act in it and begging to shoot it. There *wouldn't* be friends begging to edit it, but that could be a task I take on myself. There wouldn't be friends begging to rent and set up lighting rigs, either -- but the bottom line is, after some reasonable amount of effort, I could get a five-page script turned into a five-minute thing. And the acting would actually be good.
Most people don't have this kind of infrastructure. They don't know all this talent. They aren't held in this kind of esteem. For real screenwriters, the whole business is very different -- they write the script, and then take it around to people who could buy it and make it. Most of them never see anything made.
So that's the Lambourghini in the metaphor. I've got this infrastructure for producing content just sitting there, if I would only take the time to take advantage of it. I've tried my damnedest to do that while employed. Now I just want to take the day off and go driving, just because I can.
The other metaphor is more straightforward -- for "going without sleep", read "writing".
All the things I've done so far, writing-wise, have been brief and cursory. The most protracted work I've done is to put in a few hours a day, every other day or so, for a brief, three-week period -- and honestly, doing that on top of a day job beat the shit out of me.
(What? Writing is hard.)
So I just want put my head down and write for a few hours every day for... a month? two months? six months? I want to do that, and see what happens. It may be that I don't have any good scripts in me. It may be that I really don't have any decent ideas for stories. It may be that I only have a little writing in me every day. It may be that the things I come up with are just bilge.
But I want to *know*, y'know? I don't want to go to my grave thinking I *might* have been able to tell some great stories if only I'd made a real effort at it, or like I *might* have fallen into a groove where I could turn out stories fairly regularly, if only I'd given it the time it deserved.
Right now I know that I can stay up for 42 hours fairly cogently. I'd like to know if I can consistently write pages.
Note that neither of these metaphors assume that I'm any *good* as a screenwriter. Neither one assumes that I deserve success, or that I deserve to be able to make a living at this. I'm not doing this because I am a great and wunnerful artist who might somehow get a "big break". I'm not even assuming that I will, in the end, find all this writing to be that fun or that rewarding.
This is really about, once and for all, finding out what happens when I have an honest go at writing scripts and producing them.
What's funny to me is that I emphatically hit this conclusion every five years or so. I basically posted this same plan in 2006. And there's a similar rant from 2002, from before I had a blog.
The difference is, every time I make that post, I have more money socked away, more artistic resources to draw on, and less satisfaction with my job.
 Mind you, I'm not a horrid screenwriter. I think I'm far better than average, but keep in mind that the average level of skill among screenwriters is just harrowingly bad. The typical writer on a run-of-the-mill "fat guy, hot wife" sitcom is better than 99.99% of the wannabes out there.
Mood: contemplative · Music: none