Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Writing Week (Vol. 6) part 280 - Prey to Patience

Patience is said to be a virtue, and for writers, it is a necessity. Nothing happens overnight. Even "overnight sensations" have taken years to develop and achieve success. When we had our freshman orientation at NYU, the League's instructors told us not to plan on selling anything until we were at least 35. I didn't know it at the time, but they were planting the all important seed - patience, my friends; it's all about patience.

There are two types of waiting that befall writers. There's waiting on one's self (waiting to develop that next project or complete that draft or edit the script). This waiting is conquerable; all you need to do to overcome it is write, work, drive yourself to finish. Writer's block is a part of this waiting, a threat to productivity, but it can be vanquished. Self-waiting (also called "procrastinating") is sometimes necessary, in the case of taking a breather between projects or in order to gear up for a major rewrite. Sometimes, it stems from being dry or in a rut or simply unmotivated. Whatever the cause, self-waiting is something we writers control. We can turn the switch on and off when we want. 

The second form of waiting, the waiting that I loathe, is waiting on others. If you've ever asked a friend or colleague to read a script, you know this waiting. If you've sent out query letters (read: emails), you may have knows this waiting for three or six month increments. And, if you've been fortunate enough to get notice from an agent/producer/manager, you have further experienced this type of waiting. With my post-Apocalyptic spec, I waited about four months between my initial querying and landing a manager. I then waited another four months for that manager to get his crap together as he jumped jobs (twice) and neglected to inform me of where he'd gone. Then, I got a new team, and collectively, we re-worked the script and waited another six months to attract a bigger producer. More rewrites followed (for a year), and then we waited for a mega-producer to attach him/her self to the project. When that didn't happen, we waited for buyers to cough up money. I'm still waiting on that (though, with zero expectations that script will ever sell.)

In the midst of all that waiting - and I certainly don't mean to sound bitter; I'm actually not at all, mind you - I remained productive. I churned out the first drafts of a couple scripts that weren't quite right or weren't working. Then, about a year and a half ago, the producer we had attached after the six month waiting stint called and offered me a spec writing job. I jumped on it, and it has since become known here as the sci-fi collaboration. For eighteen months, I worked and reworked it with my writing partner. Finally, about a month ago, we settled on a draft both of us liked a lot. We sent it to his manager, who also liked it, but who had concerned that it was becoming too similar to something already in development. Unfortunately for us, the potentially competing picture is shrouded in secrecy, so - for the pas three weeks - we have been waiting to see if anyone can find out any more about it. More waiting, and not the self-driven kind.

Yesterday, I decided to be proactive when waiting on others. I emailed my collaborator and asked him if he thought it was worth me reaching out to my agent about the script. I haven't been in touch with my agent in nearly three years, because I haven't had a product ready for him. I'll admit that part of my desire to reach out was to plant myself back on his radar. Part, obviously, is to further our script and see if he has connections and insight that my collaborator's team doesn't yet. He responded, and I have sent him the script. Sure, I'm still waiting, but with another possible opportunity on the table.

Speaking of waiting, a couple months back, I wrote a children's picture story book. A friend in publishing took a look, loved it, and gave me notes. I shortened it, per her suggestions, reworked it a bit, and made it even more visually stimulating. I sent it back to her... and waited. Unfortunately, my friend got intermittently ill and busy, and my book slid to the back burner. (I can't fault her at all, as I've done this with others' work in the past, too, as much as I am disappointed to admit it.) Still, I was waiting. She had told me she could connect me with literary agents, and yet, the ball wasn't rolling. Through my work in theatre here in NYC, I had access to children's theatre makers with contacts at agencies repping the exact kind of work I had produced. After deciding I was done idly waiting, I became proactive again. I sent my other connection an email, and by that afternoon (far as I know), my book was off via email to his agent contact. I'm waiting on a response from that, but at least I have another ball up in the air and can dispense with the wringing unease of another potential in falling by the wayside.

My friends, you, too, will find yourself waiting while playing this game. It's all about how you spend your time that counts.