blog: what I haven’t been able to admit even to myself

I’m very happy to report that my dark and miserable night of the soul is over … at least for today.

It all started in responding to a friendly email from my pal Sheila the playwright, where In the privacy of a private email, I was able to choke out the words and admit what I haven’t been able to admit even to myself:

“Am between rock and hard place (I resist saying ‘death spiral’) with this rewrite of the pilot. Filled with fear and shame. I don’t think like a writer. I’m NOT a writer.”

It seems that those two lines to Sheila were lead that turned to gold. They miraculously jimmied open my psychic log jam and I was able to look squarely at the enemy: I’d described it.

Effortlessly and without thought, within seconds, I was madly googling ‘tv pilots’ and other related terms. It quickly became clear what my problem is and that it’s not uncommon.  

a) I’m basically self-taught, work intuitively and have no external criteria. I absolutely love everything I write until I reread it the next day and decide it’s terrible.  

b) ’Structure’ has never been my friend. But without any structure to grab on to, it feels like I’m not merely circling but actively going down the drain.

Making episodes of The Louise Log, I got away with working intuitively, without learning any craft. They were short enough and I didn't have to show the scripts to anyone to get financing.  For this tv show, I figured that I’d gotten a Get Out Of Jail Free card by lashing myself to my structure-wizard co-writers. They could deal with all that and I could just channel my part of the script.

But after this past month of churning like an egg-beater, writing up a storm, rewriting up a cyclone and coming up with nothing usable, I’ve felt a level of confusion and insecurity I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. To make the leap up to a half hour show, I’m going to take a workmanlike attitude, learn what I can about structure and the craft of television writing and put one word in front of the other. I'll keep you posted. 

Structure, baby. 

Structure, baby. 

Go Big or Go Bust: On Going With The Goddam Flow

With everything that’s behind and ahead of me in wanting to get this pilot in front of the right people, I’m pin balling through every phase of the emotional wringer.

And then early Saturday morning, I had a dream. It was just around daybreak when a person’s lucky to be able to get back to sleep, much less have a dream.

A 20-something, Middle Eastern-looking woman and I were talking in the hall of a building at 14th St and 8th Avenue. There was nothing fancy about the way she looked or dressed but she radiated a beautiful strength and confidence. She mentioned that she meditated two or three times a day for an hour each time and was cutting back on the people she sees. She mentioned that ‘Henry Fun’, who is dying, is one of them. It felt like I was not someone she’d be making time for.

And so I drifted off in thought, thinking about what a pity it is that I’m not a sitting meditation person, that this is obviously why she’s so strong and confident and I’M NOT. And suddenly, I remembered something I was supposed to be doing and let out a whole body cry of frustration.  

She looked at me with a look of wonder and horror, as if to say: “How old ARE you, anyway? THREE?”

In that flash, I got it, something I’ve been struggling with for decades. This is what self-will run riot looks like and I don’t have to fall victim to it anymore. I can let go. I can get into the darn river and go with the goddam flow.

Go Big or Go Bust: Day 83 (deadline in three days)

So I made it through the second draft today, in spite of it being a gloriously warm and sunny day and in spite of the neighboring horn player extending his considerable energy onto an electric guitar.   

Mr. Green has just now given me his feedback: he feels there are many good elements but that the foundation is weak for almost every character's resentment.  (There's a lot of resentment.) I want to rewrite it before sending it on to Mr. Hoffman.  Tomorrow.