20 July 2012

Screenwriting: About the cake, the icing and the cherry

A few thoughts about making cakes.

The cake: I always get the cake and I always get to eat it. I'm a writer, I love writing and so I write. There's nothing anyone can say or do that could keep me away from the cake. I get the ingredients, I make it, I watch it grow, I breathe it in and I'll munch it any damn way I please. I always get the cake.

If you're lucky-brilliant-experienced-crafty-clever-networked enough, you may occasionally get hired. Getting hired is still the cake - it's just making and eating and and getting paid to do it - it's nice - but it's still the exact same thing - it's making cake. Whether you're on your own, whether you're hired or fired, whether you're writing your spec or whether you're slaving through a dozen crazy drafts with no end in sight, whether the collaboration is blissful or maddening - it's healthy to remember that it's all cake. Enjoy it!

The icing: All of that cake just may lead to the occasional icing - you may get produced. And that's lovely - great to see your name in the credits - fantastic, even. But remember, as nice as that is, it isn't what you're in it for - you're in it for the many scrumptious cakes.

The cherry: Once in a rare while you'll get recognized for your work. You're name is singled out, you're nominated, you're awarded, somebody hands you statuette. Recognition is lovely - but it's just a cherry. If you depend on the icing or the cherries, you're screwed, you're setting yourself up for a severe case of misery.

I'm not Aaron Sorkin, I'm nowhere near Aaron Sorkin - I'm probably not even on the same planet as Aaron Sorkin. But if there's a universe called "Writer's passion" - then we're both in it. We write because we're passionate about it - because we need to write, because it fulfills us.

I don't know about the Aaron-Meister, but I get withdrawal symptoms if I don't write. I miss it, badly. I get cranky - I need the stories around me, I need to spend quality time in all the odd places and with all the strange characters my mind can and does dream up day in day out.

And even during the most excruciatingly difficult rewrite, while I'm tearing my hair out and banging holes through the walls, I'm happy. I write, I make cakes.




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