10.03.2006

The November Plan


I saw Aurora Borealis today and I enjoyed it. I went into it favorably because I'm a fan of Joshua Jackson, Donald Sutherland and Juliette Lewis. So some of it was a given. But I liked it. The performances were strong and for whatever faults it had, the basic character relationships were well done.

But aside from remembering how much I like those actors, what I mainly came out of it with was a sense of winter. Snow and scarves. Winter in the midwest. It figures that I miss it now. Even though at times it seemed so awful, it marked the passing of time. And the cold and the fires and hot drinks were a nolstagic plus around the holidays. But I liked winter because it's a trial. It's an experience. It can be awful and it throws life a curve ball. It livens things up and it makes spring so wonderful. Anyone who lives somewhere where there's a real winter knows those spring days when you walk outside and it's warming. It's not quite warm yet. There's still March and April to get through. But it's warming. Everything smells fresh and the breeze is. . . that first day you don't have to wear a coat is worth every profanity you sent Winter's way during those morning commutes.

In Los Angeles, time stands still. Yes, it gets a little colder during the winter and, god forbid, it rains some. But here, time passes by and you find yourself taken aback when you see people walking around with red Christmas-themed Starbucks cups.

"Oh, right, it's November."

So, the passing of time. I'm starting to understand how people can move to Los Angeles and disappear into it. It's kind of like a dry, sunny deprivation tank. How long have I been here? Umm. . . has it been that long? It's much too easy to fall into patterns and routines and not liven things up and try new avenues towards your goals. Before you know it months have passed and you realize you never really took stock of your current method of attack. And then you panic -- but even that fades away when you step outside and it's sunny and in the 70s. And before you know it, it's the end of the year and. . .shit. Shit shit shit -- it's November.

And I had one of these moments of clarity during the middle of September. I saw another year slipping by and the list of my achievments since moving here not being where I'd it to be. I'm not afraid of hard work and I'm not blind to the need for persistence and patience in this city -- but things felt stagnant and I needed a fresh approach. No. I was long overdue for a fresh approach.

A lot of these worries and ponderings came to a head when a friend and I were working on a spec. We're co-writing a one hour spec pilot and we were smoothing out some problems with our first act. This friend, P, and I went to grad school together. Grad school being a wonderful place to loaf, we're both easily prone to tangental discussions of everything but what we're working on. So we've been buckling down and getting the work done. Furthermore, after working on our script, we've been looking over each other's individual work and discussing goals and whatnot. Kind of a galvanizing goals group of two.

And on that day he told me about his plan to make a website which would post three polished specs of his and advertise him in a focused industry-savvy way. A writer of quirky comedies aiming for the half-hour comedy market. We're both the kind of people who have too many projects going at once. So, in addition, he was stopping work on everything but those specs for the website. In the next few months, he wanted three solid specs, a calling card website, and a list of everyone he knew who might be able to refer him to an agent, or to someone else who could.

It was so streamlined, smart, and obvious.

And so I sat there in his Silverlake apartment, looking out his window at the hills. At that time, I was working on the following:

1) Three (count 'em: 3) feature outlines

2) Three different TV specs

3) Two original TV specs

4) The beginnings of novel that I've been dancing with for a year or so

So his direct, sensible approach to the goal that we both had -- to find work in television -- made me feel stupid and sick to my stomach. For many reasons: It was obvious and why wasn't I focusing in such a way? Why the wasted time in a world with no winter? My friend P had also clearly spelled out his skills and goals and had plotted out the specs he needed to back it all up.

I had jumbled up my collection of shows-to-spec so much that I had forgot that the TV that I like, and the TV that I would be suited to write for were two different things. And then it struck me that the current TV market may not be suited for me at all. All the shows that I had recently been watching weren't shows that would best advertise what I could do. What was I doing watching all these half hour comedies? And those shows that seemed to match me were turning out to be such difficult shows to spec. Damn you, Greg Daniels and Rob Thomas.

So, yes, I was panicking. Which is normal. But I settled down and started to think about P's approach. As P would say, "Life is like a nubile girl. She may be tell you that means that she's beacoup beacoup. But it really means she's of marrying age."

Translation: LA cuts to the chase. This is the way it works. So get your guard up. Get with it. Get active.

So I took his plan as a model and I sat myself down with a TV Guide, my current spec work, and I came up a plan.

The November Plan:

I'm dropping all the ancillary shit and focusing my time on finishing up two solid TV specs that will telegraph my skills. I'll group those with the original spec I'm writing with P, and another original spec I'm polishing (a coma, = comedic drama), and post those to a website to serve as my own focused nubile calling card.

I've spoken with my brother and he's going to help me design the website. And so now I'm working on the writing. I'm working with P, polishing the other original spec, and plotting my two TV specs.

And by the end of November, I'll be putting up a wesbite. So I need to start a making a list of everyone I know. Because before you know it those red Starbucks cups are going to be popping up everywhere.

Next post: The TV Specs

ps. I watched the Heroes pilot tonight. Very engaging. I'm psyched to catch up. Veronica Mars Season 3 started tonight. Cross your fingers.

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