A little about writing scripts

I thought I’d change the subject as I’m starting to think I’m repeating my rants about Hollywood’s domination of the multiplex.

I like to bake bread. The other day, a friend said to me, in that derogatory voice that I’m sure writers hear all the time, “not everyone has time to bake bread”, the implication being that I have all the time in the world because I’m not working, I’m just doing nothing all day. Well, fuck you too, I thought. Everybody except Bob Iger has time to bake bread. It’s something I do in my spare time instead of, I don’t know, watching TV. (She sure has time for that!) Baking bread is easy and I like it, so I do it. It is something that you can only really do if you work at home, though. Because, while it only takes ten minutes to mix up a batch of dough, after a couple hours, you have to deal with it again in some way, or bake it. It’s something you have to be around for, but it doesn’t take any time.

I think anybody who works at home is doubly fucked. First of all, everybody thinks that this is what they want. It’s nice to be around the house to bake break, but it’s a drag when dinner needs to be cooked for the kids. Second, it’s really hard because you life gets in the way of your work in ways that people who go to a job can’t imagine. Basically, people think you aren’t doing anything important, and sometimes it feels like you aren’t.

Writing scripts is an extremely temperamental business. It’s not like writing a book, where you can get lost in the words or go off with a character. Scripts are intense things that seem to work on a strange ethereal level: there’s not a lot of words on each page, but there’s an awful lot of information there. Sometimes you’re not even sure how it gets there. Sometimes it doesn’t get there. Sometimes you work for a week trying to get a two page scene to work, only to release that the scene is dumb and shouldn’t even be there. Sometimes you spend six months on a script and realize you’re not going to be able to finish it. Then, of course, all that work goes in, and, you finish, and then – that’s just the first step to making a movie! What a load of suck that is!

On the positive side, you spend a lot of time with characters you really enjoy spending time with, listening to them in ways that you never do with your friends. A lot of your work is just sitting around thinking, which, once you get used to the idea that doing that actually is work, isn’t so bad. There’s an intensity to the emotion that goes into scripts that you really don’t find in real life; it’s there, but it’s watered down; in a script it’s concentrated.

There’s good things and bad things to be said about the amount of time you spend alone or the amount of time you spend in your head. There’s plenty of people who get lost in there and never really come back, some of them famously. Not everybody can do it. There’s people with great ideas that just don’t have the temperament to sit on their ass all day, by themselves, and force themselves to stop surfing for porn and gadget news.

I love writing. It’s a good job, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Baking bread is just a hobby, and I’ve gotten pretty good at that too. I wish I had time to do something else too.


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