The Honeymoon is Over

August 27, 2008

I got my first agent years ago (too many to mention). It was, more than anything else, a learning experience. It’s a pretty arbitrary relationship: “Writer, meet agent. Agent, this is writer. You guys don’t know each other. You may or may not be compatible people, you may or may not ever meet each other face-to-face, but now you’re going to work together… until it becomes too uncomfortable to work together anymore. Or maybe even beyond that.” Yeah, a match made in heaven every time.

This agent and I were together for several years, then parted ways amicably, then got back together very briefly for a project, then parted amicably again. She showed my stuff and got me meetings and pitches, I got THIS CLOSE to being hired as a staff writer on a kids’ TV show, and then she paved the way for me to successfully pitch and then get hired to write a freelance episode of a different kids’ show. This all sounds great, but these are the highlights of a time span of several years. Several. Due to political reasons, her (and my) contacts dried up at that production company, she and her agency decided to focus exclusively on an area of the business that wasn’t for me, and our relationship reached a dead end. I am grateful for her help, even though neither of us profited much financially from our relationship. Although we haven’t spoken in years, I wish her well and have no hard feelings.

But what I learned was this: having an agent doesn’t solve all your problems.

It seems simple enough: you write scripts and the agent sells them. What’s the problem? The problem is that there is much more to it than that. You want to write material that’ll take you in one direction, while your agent’s contacts may be in a completely different direction. Or you may have a great suspense thriller, but your agent just exhausted all his/her contacts on a much better suspense thriller from another writer client, and everybody passed. Plus the agent always has internal politics or issues at his/her agency that shape what s/he is looking for and what s/he can do with you. As a writer your infrastructure is pretty simple: an idea, a computer, and some toner. The agent’s world is slightly more complicated.

So getting an agent one day doesn’t mean your stuff is going to get sent out and sold the next. You read about the dream in the trades, and maybe you’ll get lucky and it will happen for you, but don’t get your hopes up. There will be some adjustments first, on both sides. You aren’t the only client. There will be notes. So keep your feet on the ground and your expectations realistic. Keep writing – it’s all you can control. It is perfectly natural to get your hopes up, but don’t fall for it.

I knew this. I had learned this. And yet when Aftershocks got new representation a couple of months ago, I guess I fell for it again.

Now, things are fine and nothing has happened, really. The script still has representation and there has been no specific event or disagreement. But there are “issues” at the agency/management company and they are getting sorted out. Slowly. Communication has fallen off completely and things are in limbo. Inertia has us at a dead stop. These people have a vested interest in getting this script out and looked at – it would have been a tremendous waste of their time to sign me if not, right? Things are okay and nothing has happened, but that’s just it: nothing has happened. So I’ve arrived at a little self-imposed reality check. And at least in my mind…

The honeymoon is over.

Keep writing. That’s all you can control.


Random Question #36

August 27, 2008

When you buy a calzone, you know how they know the thing is dry, so they always give you a little marinara sauce on the side to put on it? Why don’t they just bake the marinara sauce into the calzone?

Good News/Bad News

August 20, 2008

Good news: Got 5 pages of Psycho Ex written last night, including a 2-page scene where the protagonist confronts his psycho ex-girlfriend/stalker that I’m really happy about. This takes Psycho Ex up to 78 pages (72 pages of script, 6 of outline).

Bad news: The 5 pages I wrote should have been about 3 1/2, and this should come in the 40s-50s or so of the script, not pages 67-72. We still have several scenes before the midpoint (or at least what I assumed was the midpoint). This draft will be a 180-page behemoth that will have to be extensively focused and chopped.

Good news: I am pleasantly surprised that this script clearly has enough story to get us through 100+ pages. Usually I have the opposite problem, and once I get everything tightened up I get down to about 95. I’m also psyched that I am back in the writing swing and have 2 more writing afternoons arranged for this week.

Bad news: The summer is over, man. All that time I thought I would have to write faded away with a family vacation and changing kids’ schedules due to swimming lessons, weird school/daycare schedules, etc. Not to mention the day job. When you’re trying to create a writing routine, the utter lack of a life routine can really screw things up. My “summer sprint” of the end of August won’t get me far.

Good news: 5 pages (and counting) is better than nothing. Overall, I’d say the glass is more than half-full. And did I mention that that 2-page confrontation scene has me psyched?

Random Question #35

August 14, 2008

What is your one memory that makes you who you are today?

Random Question #34

August 5, 2008

What is your all-time favorite book?