Processed Within An Inch Of My Life

My silence the last couple of weeks has been a silence of stewing, of spiraling off into increasingly vague and ephemeral considerations of what exactly the hell I am doing right now, followed by crashes back down to terra firma, all of it pickled in whiskey and White Russians.

Graduating from my MFA program, followed by a summer where I was traveling for two weeks (unusual for me), started planning my wedding, and got a much more intellectually stimulating job, threw me for much more of a loop than I anticipated. This is because I am an idiot with apparently no recollection that major life events tend to get me off-rhythm.

I’ll admit here, publicly, that since I finished my thesis manuscript in May, I have not produced any writing of substance. My efforts have been confined to light revisions of existing manuscripts, some extremely preliminary outlining for a comics project, and a half-hearted attempt at a short film script that fell out from under me. I also submitted a screenplay to the American Zoetrope contest, and short plays to Culture*Park, Future Tenant, and the Source Festival.

Submitting is great, of course, but the lack of additional writing is disconcerting, at best. Given that in the two years previous, I produced a full-length screenplay or stage play every six months on average, with shorter works interspersed, and it has now been…five months…I am feeling a bit miffed at myself. After all, now’s the time to keep up the momentum, right? I spend two years revving the engines, only to spin out when I finally pop the clutch? Poor form, poor form.

What I’ve concluded after much navel-gazing, however, is that I can’t let myself get derailed by frustration with my lack of productivity. Those five months are gone, dissolved in a haze of Skyrim and jogging (I’ve lost maybe ten pounds! Seven? Well, maybe ten! Go me!) There’s also the likelihood that I simply needed to recharge my batteries, because right now I’m feeling way more prepared to face a blank screen than I was in June.

What’s the plan, then? For the next couple of weeks, I will be revising the first feature screenplay I wrote at Lesley, to exchange with some of my fellow graduates for workshopping in early November. I’ll also be deciding which of a couple concepts I’ll be focusing on for my next new screenplay, which I intend to have drafted by the New Year.

There are also a couple of more deadlines coming up for submissions, for which I’ll mostly be using existing manuscripts, although there’s one short project I’ll need to write from the ground up. After the New Year, I’ll be focusing on writing my first spec TV script and my first pilot, assuming I can nail the bastard idea down at some point. It’s currently fluttering just beyond arm’s reach, spewing some truly shocking profanity in my general direction. Oh, and at some point in there, I also need to make this comic I’ve been thinking about, uh, actually happen. Anyone know how to draw?

It was hard for me to even think about any of this stuff a couple of weeks ago without sprinting to find the most unproductive thing I could be doing instead. Now? It’s just the To-Do List.

MediaWatch:

TV: Started watching Homeland from Season 1 with the Betrothed, and Luther solo. Both outstanding, with a lot to offer, especially in the area of writing character. The Walking Dead returns this weekend — not so great with character, but based on the previews, I’m feeling good about the painful-tension quotient this year. No more bickering on the farm for those folks, thank Romero.

Film: The Master was disappointing. Amazing acting and stunning visuals, but nothing there to move me in the way that Anderson’s previous work has. I may need to see it again, though. Looper: also disappointing. It sets up one movie over the first hour, then finishes a different movie. Good performances, cool visuals, but the structure isn’t there. Johnson even brought in Shane Carruth, writer-director of Primer, the smartest time-travel film I’ve ever seen, as a creative consultant. Did he not listen to him? Still, neither of them are the biggest disappointment of the year; that honor still belongs to Prometheus, as the incessant Blu-Ray commercials have reminded me. Optimistic about Argo, Seven Psychopaths, and Sinister, all out this weekend.

Fiction: Currently not hating Crossed: Wish You Were HereSi Spurrier’s bleak spin on Garth Ennis’ post-apocalyptic depravity-plague scenario. Ready Player One is my favorite new (to me) novel so far this year, and looks set to be a perennial recommendation. Currently in the midst of a reread of The Wheel of Time, in anticipation of the long-awaited conclusion, A Memory Of Light, being released in January. Just started The Fires of Heaven, the fifth of thirteen released volumes. I’ve got about 2.7 million more words to get through by January 8th. Luckily, I’ve got a real lunch hour again.

Music: Going to see Ben Folds Five on their reunion tour at the House of Blues tomorrow. Have seen Folds solo four times, but never got a chance to see the Five before they broke up in 2000. Favorite band ever, and first concert since an Amanda Palmer show in 2009. Very. Excited. Their new album, The Sound of The Life of The Mind, is in heavy rotation, as are Love This Giant, the new collaboration from David Byrne and St. Vincent, Amanda Palmer’s Theatre Is Evil, Metric’s Fantasies, Miike Snow’s Miike Snow and Happy To You, and all 3 LCD Soundsystem albums.

 

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About PKH

Patrick Hume is a screenwriter and playwright based in Los Angeles. View all posts by PKH

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