The Block

Okay, let’s try some analysis.

The line I’ve been staring at for so long is “I’m not going to school today.” From this line there are two paths obvious to me; one is preachy and boring, and will wind up in the same dustbin of ridicule as Reefer Madness. The other leads to the Columbine Massacre, which would be a sensational, disturbing conclusion no matter how it was handled. Impactful, as we used to say in the marketing world, and it would never, ever fly. More appropriately, it would never make it past the written page.

There is another path, to be sure, the path that eludes me, the path that the script will eventually take. The path that is interesting and entertaining, at least to the people holding that paycheck. The fact that these nebulous qualities are about as concrete as any indication to the direction or even content of the script by these Powers That Be doesn’t help. Add gun-shyness into the mix.

Here is likely the worst part of the equation: anything else I write at this point is at the cost of time spent on the script that is giving me problems now; any time devoted to anything else, the Calvinist angel on one shoulder proclaims, is delaying payday, and that’s bad, it’s so very bad.

Yes, to be frank, I don’t give a rat’s ass about this project outside the money. If I can get to the point where there is anything of me in the writing, that will change, but right now, that magical property of involvement is locked up in a very real and very impenetrable fortress. And writing anything else feels like stealing from myself.

That’s some catch, that Catch 22. And the proper response, as you know, is “It’s the best one we got.”

Alright, Alright.

You don’t really want to know where I’ve been for the past month, do you?

Well, maybe one or two of you do.

By and large, I have been here, sitting on my ass, staring at one line written on a blank page. For weeks. There is a term for this: Writer’s Block.

This has been tremendously humbling, and above all, depressing. After nearly a year of churning out stuff on demand for the Video Game Project, to suddenly be faced with my own inadequacy has been brutal, to say the least. Not even my usual solution, to watch episodes of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes, has worked to soothe the hurt.

It’s like this: I was asked to write a touring show by a local theater, a show about a pernicious social ill (somewhere in there, I seem to have moved from writing about knife-weilding zombies to being the Social Ills Writer. Don’t ask me how that happened). “So,” I asked. “What shape do you see this show taking?” “oh, we don’t know,” was the reply. “We’re sure you’ll come up with something. We just want it to be entertaining, and interesting.”

I wrestled with that a long time. Finally handed in the first ten pages of a script that made a social ill entertaining and interesting. The response, almost predictably, was, “This wasn’t what we had in mind at all.”

The things that leap to mind are many, including the obvious If you knew what you wanted, why didn’t you tell me? I then attempted to fulfill their needs, and have found myself staring at that one line for hours on end, as I realize over and over again that one of the major reasons I don’t own a gun is because I lack the strength to resist the urge to blow my own brains out.

There has been a slight alleviation in this gloom, as it has been decided that I will meet with a Panel of Concerned Experts, which means I will once more be writing by committee, but at least I will by God leave that first meeting with an actual idea of what is needed.

That job at Fry’s is looking better and better every day.

And that, gloomy and demeaning as it is, is where I’ve been. Except for one bright weekend, where I got to hang with my b-movie brethern. Ken has written about it far more eloquently than I could at this point, so I’ll just direct you there.

Oh, and I pulled my head out enough to review the movie Constantine. I think the movie deserves more than the few lines I scrawled about it, but hey: I got something written. Two somethings, now.