Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 223 - The Rock and the Hard Place

I feel there's a nebulous, viscid mire writers can become entrenched in, which lies at a very finite point somewhere between having made it (i.e., selling a script) and still being unknown and unrepresented in the industry. This point is one where a scribe has achieved a modicum of success, namely having attained an agent or a manager or other representative, but has not yet sold anything. Having landed that rep or those reps, however, in a funny way closes as many doors to that particular writer as it opens, if not more.

I inhabit this middle swamp ground.

Let me try to explain a bit more clearly. Before I found representation, I was writing for myself - what I wanted, when I wanted. I didn't have access to producers or directors or actors' people. I was an unknown writer trying to make it. Competitions were fair game for me, and when I thought I had something worthwhile, I prepped and sent query emails. Anywhere a new opportunity came up along the way, I pursued if I deemed it applicable. In short, the world was my oyster, and it was up to me how to prepare it.

Now that I have representation, things have changed. I get my ideas approved by my agent or manager before I embark upon them, as those guys have more insider knowledge as to whether something similar is already in the pipeline, or if the market's just not in a good place for it at the moment. I'm supposed to turn in two scripts a year to my agent; unfortunately, in the 18 months since I came on board with him, he's seen zero new script from me. I've written a few, but my manager and I decided to table them for various reasons. Opportunities that I one time would have jumped on - competitions, logline contests, even the revamped Amazon Studios - are no longer really the most viable routes to take. The end goal of so many of those being to secure a writer an agent or a meeting with a producer, they are no longer quite worthwhile. Even that logic is irksome, though, as all writers know that any means by which we can get our names out there are worth pursuing. On the flip side, I do have indirect access to directors and producers that I personally still can't get to yet, and one of the producers I'm working with has helped me get my current co-writing gig, but actual sales have still yet to materialize.

I can't help but wonder what would happen if I move to LA. Should I have been there already? Maybe I lost opportunities for meetings 18 months ago when I was fresh in my agent's mind. (My manager tells me that no, I haven't, but I can't help wondering.) What if a great competition comes along that I know I could place highly in, but it's for writers without representation? What if I fall out with my reps and go back to square one? Have I missed my shot by being three scripts behind for my agent? Would he even know me if I emailed him?

All these questions and more threaten to darken the success I have achieved, which is frankly silly, since I am working on something now with a known writer. I still have producers actively pursuing my post-Apocalyptic spec and even had a sort-of lead come up just last week. I have access to industry professionals I can turn to for help. All of that is great, and nothing I'd want to trade. They just can't mitigate the sensation that I am in that weird, indefinitely binding gray zone between anonymity and greater success.