I've been in a bit of an introspective mood lately. Not something I dabble in often, but when I do—oh baby! With the approaching call of employment ringing in my ears, it is this writing thing I do that sits right in the crosshairs of the "spection" portion of introspection.
This "writing thing" started for me back in 1995 with a romantic comedy screenplay of all things. It was called, Roomance. The premise was simple: a frustrated married couple with young daughter separate, only to unwittingly and unknowingly fall for each other in an online chat room. They arrange a series of public meetings, during which they keep running into each other, not realizing they are the chat room romance. After a number of rewrites and query submissions to literary agents, I got nowhere. Being the clueless novice I was, I submitted it to a predatory agency who read it for a fee—I think $95. For my effort and money, I got back a boiler plate response saying "author has raw talent but story line is not commercially viable".
Undaunted, I wrote another script about an overworked DYFS social worker who finds himself in the middle of a serious child sexual abuse situation with little evidence but much at stake (not so romantic or comedic I'd say). I shipped both works off to the 1996 Monterey Film Festival screen play contest at $30 a pop. Soon after, I received a letter back saying "Congratulations! Both scripts have moved onto the semi-final round." After coming down from my temporary, albeit euphoric, indulgence in Oscar award winning acceptance speeches and snappy one-liners fired off to Oprah's probing questions, I'd soon learn that the semi-final round of any writing contest is code for "entrance fee check did not bounce". Such learning is how I move about in this world.
Anyway, I recently dusted off that first script, Roomance, which by the way was written three years ahead of a movie quite similar called, "You've Got Mail" (that little commercially unsuccessful movie). And I must say, although my screenplay format was amateurish at best, the dialogue wasn't all that bad. Maybe I did have promise after all.
That was fifteen years ago. Holy smokes!
And here I am. Still standing. Still at it. Writing more than ever. Undeterred. Still delusional. Still occasionally indulging in sharp give-and-take with the likes of Jon Stewart and David Letterman. It's great boy mischief I'm having here. That is until I get in these moods. And when I do, it is almost always because I'm asking myself, why? Why write and blog at all? I mean, with the Chinese porn link attacks, and the occasional homophobic "faggot" hollering, and the intolerable stupid speak, and the rejections already. Why bother? Am I simply a glutton for punishment or vanity veiled or both? Possibly, but I'm not so sure.
Then I get an email from a reader who tells me I have inspired him/her to start writing again. That makes me feel good. Very good as a matter of fact. And who knows? Maybe with a little more talent here and a snazzy query there, they will be able to achieve that which eludes me. That would make me feel great. For a while anyway. However, it's not the reason I do this. The sad truth is, I'm not that noble. If I lean in any direction, it is towards the punishment and vanity twins. But it does get me to thinking more deeply about the reason "why", of which I'm actually quite aware.
In a nut shell, I do this because I need to, besides it's all I have. You see, it really is the old "I need to express myself" thing. And although I'd love to be an artist, I can't oil paint worth a dime—as evidenced by my own mom's (an accomplished impressionist artist in her own right) recent insistence that I paint by numbers for five years before coming back to her for my second lesson. And while I can play the guitar well enough to sing along, my vocal chords want nothing to do with the whole operation in any serious way. But I do have an ear for humor and I can turn a comic phrase now and again. The best part is that blogging offers the perfect outlet for a reluctant big mouth like me. It's a stage without that little distraction I like to call, "the audience". Perfect for an overly self-conscious, partially evolved lout like me. Just perfect!
And that's what my writing is all about Charlie Brown!