Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Still plodding along

I used the excuse that I had a lot of work last night to get out of my writer's group meeting, but then it turned out that I DID have stuff I needed to do for work, so I ended up staying in the office a bit later than usual, and read a script after I got home. So I guess I'm not really a liar.

I'm keenly aware right now that I'm biding my time, laying groundwork, and paying dues at the moment. Writress has been working long hours at her new Writer's PA job, which is great, but from what she says I know that I wouldn't necessarily want her job at the moment. I would have wanted it when I first arrived in LA, and I would love to have an actual writer's assistant job, but at this point I have no desire to be a nearly 26 year old Ivy League graduate and still be taking lunch orders.

What this means is that for the next step in my career I want at least a Writer's Assistant job, and would love to have a Staff Writer job. For the latter, I'm trying to get my writing samples written and read by the right people. For the former, I'm putting in my time at my current job. You almost never see postings for Writer's Assistant jobs. It's always through networking. If I put in my year at my current job, and let my bosses know what I'm looking to do next, they'll help me. They'll be good references, and may have connections I don't have. I'll be able to contact other writers I know and try to get help that way as well, knowing that I won't have to lie if I get an interview.

What this means is that while I'll certainly be keeping my eyes open for other jobs, I'm committed to my current one until the summer when the time comes for me to evaluate the next step in my career with my bosses. Sometimes it's hard to be patient when I've been working hard in this business for so long, but on the other hand there are constant reminders around me of people who didn't get started in their careers until they were much older than me. I may not be like Josh Schwartz and get a show picked up at 25, but if I play my cards right and catch a lucky break or two, I could still get there by 30, which is still younger than most people are when they make it in this town.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Being lazy tonight

I'm blowing off my writer's group tonight. In my defense, my work wasn't being read/given notes, and the things that ARE I've already given copious notes on in earlier drafts. I simply didn't get a chance to write up notes, and my going there would have been kinda pointless when I'd rather hang out at home and rest up so as not to catch Writress's cold (yeah, she's feeling a bit sick, and she's working long hours at the new job, which is going well by the way).

I think it comes down to a problem in the way the writer's group is run. Here's what I've learned: In many informal writer's groups, there's a temptation to turn things to a "let's just read what you have" model. People work at different paces sometimes, and some people might be going full steam ahead while others may need to rework their original idea. I get it. In fact, I had to drop an idea this time because it wasn't working and there were two other pilots out there just like it.

I think it's a mistake to go to that type of open group though. Originally, there are deadlines. Outline by X date. Teaser and Act 1 by Y date, etc... If you fell behind, you caught up. It gave definite deadlines, which help in motivation, and I think the notes are better because everyone is talking about how to work on a specific stage of their episode/pilot.

And since the aim of these sorts of groups is to prepare writers to get staffed in writer's rooms, I think the idea of enforcing deadlines is good, because that's the exact sort of pressure we'll be under once we work in an actual writer's room.

Some people view the group as an excuse to get their stuff read and get them staffed. That shouldn't be a part of the process. We should welcome notes by guest speakers, but not expect them to want to staff us from reading those early drafts. I say we focus on training us to be better writers and on getting good samples written, and once they are written, then do a major push to get agents, managers, and showrunners to read the finished samples.

I think my time tonight would be better spent reading old Castle scripts in anticipation of writing my spec, or working on my web series. Since our group is organized in this confusing way now that I won't be getting any benefit out of the meeting, I really shouldn't feel bad about not being there tonight.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Proud of my girl

Writress found out today that she starts a new job on Monday. After spending the last 6 or 7 months as a corporate minion, she now has a job as a Writer's PA on a premium cable comedy. It's the job that can lead to a writer's asst job, which can hopefully lead to a writer's job.

Most assistant jobs in LA are such that you have to pretend you're not really a writer, or keep that as quiet as possible. Jobs working FOR writers are different though. They encourage you to write in your free time. They remember starting writing, and recognize the need to a place to foster new talent. Yes, she'll be doing a lot of grunt work making copies and ordering meals, but she's doing it in a great environment, and she's really excited. I'm excited for her.

She found out about the job when I forwarded her the job posting the instant I saw it, enabling her to apply right away and get her resume in before they got so many applications they had to stop opening them. So I feel good that I helped someone I care about get ahead, and she's really grateful to me for helping her get it.

I didn't have someone like me helping me when I got to LA. I've had to learn everything on my own. That's why I try to help other people though. I'm also trying to lay a lot of ground work for my little sister when comes out here.

Now I'm just crossing my fingers that I too can catch a lucky break, and hopefully get a baby writer job on some show. I've had enough professional writers tell me I'm good enough and should be in a writer's room. Now that the economy is recovering and people are getting hired again, it's not out of the realm of possibility that I could finally step up to the next level in this town.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Something I just don't understand

I was looking at earlier, and there was a posting from some girl who got walked in on while having sex by her father, and she said that her father wouldn't be responding to the name "daddy" for a "looooooong time". I inferred that she was one of those girls into the whole, "who's your daddy" thing.

This is just something I've never understood. I've never said it to a girl, nor had a girl want it said to her. If a girl actually ever called me "daddy" while we were hooking up, I'd get kind of creeped out.

I get that some girls have "daddy issues" that lead them to dress like skanks and go down on silver-haired dudes that pay attention to them and buy them pretty things, but to actually call someone you're banging "daddy" just seems incestuous and gross to me.

Maybe I'm missing some kind of other meaning to it, but to be honest, I really don't care. I find it weird, and hope I never hear someone actually saying it to me.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I love long weekends

I'm going to sleep in, catch up on my insane hulu queue, have a fun time partying with friends, have a great Valentine's day picnic with the Writress, and while it'll probably still go by too quickly, it has the added advantage that the next week is only four days long.

I bought an orchid for Writress for Valentine's today. Now I gotta go home and stash it somewhere unseen for a couple days.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On love and romance

I read a pilot yesterday called, "Women are crazy, Men are stupid". Longtime readers will know that my brother and I long ago came up with Rule #1, i.e. "All women are crazy, and there's nothing you can do about it, so accept it and move on and your life will be easier."

So I went into reading this pilot thinking that maybe it was written by a like-minded thinker.

I was wrong.

Basically, the theme of the pilot was that you can't have great love without romance, and most guys are terrible at romance. Their definition of romance was an unseen figure named Chris who did things like "Show up on a white stallion named Passion for a first date". The way the dopey guy gets back on good terms with his girlfriend is by staging an incredibly over-the-top gesture with a snow machine in Southern California to make snow angels.

It's the stupid Hollywood/Disney idea that you can't have love without grand insane gestures. Women claim they want these amazing ways for guys to express their love, but if people did half this stuff in real life they'd be stampeding to their lawyers to get restraining orders.

With Valentine's day coming up, I'd been thinking on gestures. And Writress doesn't want them. It's a day for us as a couple, not or me to surprise her with some overpriced and commercial idea. Instead, we planed what we're going to do together. We're going to have a picnic at our favorite spot in LA, where we had our first date. It's plenty romantic, and doesn't involve some overly-theatrical gesture that maxes out a credit card.

And as for flowers, I'm not buying her a dozen overpriced roses that will die in less than a week. I decided that I'm going to buy her an orchid, because she likes orchids, they're pretty, and it'll still be alive a week from now, and may even last until NEXT Valentine's day.

So girls, please don't take your cues from stupid magazine articles and romantic comedy endings. Your guy still loves you even if he doesn't hire a string quartet and throw rose-petals at your feet just because it's a Wednesday. If you're really in love, just having a chance to be together and enjoy one another's company should be enough.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guess I'm doing something right

One of my boss's writer clients came in today to work on a pitch they're going out with. They called me in to pick my brain for an example of a certain kind of story in mythology, and I threw one out off the top of my head that they liked, and they had me sit in on the rest of the meeting.

When my boss stepped out for a second, the writer asked me if I was a writer, and said that he liked that I came up with that story off the top of my head like that. He also said that I must be good at my job, because he's been with my boss through a lot of assistants, and I'm the only one he hasn't heard bad things about. So I got that going for me at least.

Last night I met a writer for one of my favorite shows. He had some sage wisdom that he passed on to all of us, and it was great being able to pick his brain and get a glimpse of how his writer's room works. I noticed that the way he carried himself, dressed, let stubble grow in etc... was a lot like me. Maybe this is why people always ask me if I'm a writer: I look the type. Gray my hair up a bit and give me 10 years of success in writer's rooms and I WILL be that guy. His story of his jobs before writing was also like what I've been doing, except it looks like things were way easier back then.

In other news, Writress got a second interview for the Writer's PA job she interviewed for. I'm really excited for her and hope she gets it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Big life news, and apparantly I have readers

It would appear that there are people who actually read this blog, which is somewhat surprising as I haven't ever done anything to promote it other than having it listed as my website when making a comment on John August's blog or something like that. So to those of you out there reading this other than me, welcome, and I'll make more of an effort to be entertaining on here. Half the time I just throw stuff up here to help me remember it later, and I'm writing in between phone calls at work.

And to the haters of my anecdote about playing with kids with Writress, the only reason I know she was happy that I was good with kids is that she literally told me that later that night. Without it having to be said outright, it was clear that the weekend was a kind of dry run to see how I was with the potential in-laws, and she was really psyched that I seemed to pass with flying colors.

Ok, now that that's dealt with, on to the big life news. No, it's not about me and Writress, although things are at a really good place with her right now. Really this is someone else's big news, but I'm now a part of it.

My older brother called me last night. That in itself is unusual, since most of the time when we keep in touch I'm the one calling him as he's terrible at remembering to bring his phone with him places and calling home. I end up calling him (and most other people back home) when I'm driving around LA. When he calls me, I know something's up or he has a specific question he feels I'm the only one who can answer.

Now for relevant back story, my brother and I are almost two years apart. He saw me as his "little brother" until mid-way through his senior year in high school when he realized he was dating a girl that was younger than me, and his friends all liked hanging out with me. Once he started college and I periodically started to visit him, we got along great. Now whenever we talk or hang out, we have a great time together.

So getting back to the story, he called me up last night so I knew something was up. He said he wanted to talk to his brother about this first, and he hadn't talked about it with anyone yet, or even said it out loud, but after having an amazing weekend, he'd decided that he wanted to ask his girlfriend to marry him. I haven't met her yet, but I know that he's crazy about this girl, so I said congrats. Especially coming off this past weekend with Writress, I could totally understand where he was coming from.

He said he wanted to tell our sister, but that would be the same as telling our mom, which he wasn't ready to do yet. I told him he should wait until AFTER Mom meets her, and he laughed and agreed. He doesn't have any of the logistics planned yet, and isn't sure when he's going to do it, but I think he just made the decision and wanted to tell someone. And to be honest, it felt really good that he wanted to tell me first.

And since most of my audience seems to be of the screenwriting ilk, on the writing front I'm putting finishing touches on my web-series, and getting ready to cast it and find directors. My alumni writing group has been a big help on it.

For next projects, I'm thinking I'm going to go back to what I'm best at and write a one hour dramedy with some Sci-fi elements. There's an idea I broke story on with the Writress a few months back, and there's also another original idea that I had recently that I'm interested in trying out. It has some elements of ENDER'S GAME influence I think, so perhaps people will like it.

And as soon as my roommate and I find the time, we're going to do our last polish and write up a series pitch document for our werewolf pilot.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Weekend in San Diego

I spent the weekend in San Diego with the Writress and her parents. It went pretty well. I got along great with her folks. I met her cousin and her cousin's husband and their two little girls, who were hilarious and fun. I was reading one of them a story and looked up and Writress had this beaming look of happiness on her face upon seeing that I was good with kids. She was great with them too.

We saw the San Diego Zoo which was pretty fun, especially since the rain cleared (rain in San Diego?). Then we watched the Superbowl with her cousin and the kids, which was great because the husband was a die-hard Saints fan and went nuts.

Going to get dinner tonight with Writress and her parents. Hopefully Writress will have heard something about this job she's up for that I let her know about.

Last bit of good news, my sister will be visiting LA in two weeks, so I'm really psyched for that.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wow, Pilot Season is busy

It's Pilot Season here in Hollywood, which means I'm so busy I don't have time to do much of anything, including work on this blog.

But life is good. The puppy is fun. I enjoyed the Lost premiere.

That's all for now.