Monday, October 30, 2006

Forget Everything

I'm still sick. I wish I could say it was for something dramatic, like being poisoned by badass gunslinger and writer Brett, but the sad truth is that several days of moderate dissipation and heavy vegetable avoidance in Austin tends to set my system back a bit. I suppose following that up with camping along the Delaware River with my buddy Eric in Worthington State Forest last weekend didn't help. It wasn't quite Brokeback cold, fortunately, but cold enough. And wet.

But you don't want to hear my whiny self enumerate my physical woes. You want to hear about Austin. Always with you, it's Austin. Last week's hallucinatory tone poem about wayfarers wasn't enough. Fine.

So, Saturday night we're all hangin' in the Driskell lounge, and Shane Black is sitting there surrounded by screenwriter groupies (yes, Virginia), and so I decide to trouble Mr. Black with something that's been troubling me. I ask him how he deals with others' negativity towards one's projects that are deemed impossible, risky, or simply foolish. (Just for example: on paper, writing an expensive Norse epic on spec is not the kind of thing one is advised to do by those who tend to do the advising.) And this coming from friends.

And Shane said:

Forget all that stuff. Just write. Just focus on your craft, on creating a compelling narrative filled with characters that embody exactly what you want to say.

Those weren't exactly his words, but they're close enough, and hearing them was everything. And, incidentally, that is what Austin is all about. But wait, there's more.

The next morning, at his Up Close & Personal panel, Shane related how he was talking to this guy the previous night . . . and I thought, "Oh, boy, here we go," and then he said, "I hope he doesn't take this the wrong way," and I thought, "Oh, dear." And then Shane relayed pretty much the same counsel he'd offered me the night before. Only, apparently my carefully considered concerns had come out more like, "Who says I can't writing a Viking movie?"

What a way to cap off the conference. Sometimes the most important thing is to hear the things you know and fear to be true. Sometimes you risk more by not taking the risk. If you say “no” now, up front, then everyone down the line can’t say “yes.” If you can say “yes” to yourself, to your process, to your project, then everyone else has a chance at coming along too.

Yes, that was better than whining. Sick, cold, rain, good advice, affirmation, sun shining, feeling good, happy ending.


Blogger Tony Shoemaker said...

As coincidence, I am struggling with a malady as well. It started the previous weekend and has somehow rallied again on Monday. In my case, I cannot blame travel; here only the stress of a themed party and the looming threat of multiple houseguests haunts me. I fully intend to recuperate come hell or high water by Friday. Bring your favorite costume (and if you don't show up as a Viking I will be highly disappointed).

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Unk said...

I'd have to agree... WRITE WITH IMPUNITY.

Fuck 'em. Just find the HIGH CONCEPT within your concept and WRITE WITH IMPUNITY and WRITE WHAT YOU WANT.

Good post!


5:31 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

Hanging on my wall in a framed print is the following:

"Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be Chaos.

Before a brilliant person begins something great, he must look foolish to the crowd.

--I Ching"

Unk is right. Fuck 'em.

Damn the torpedoes-- full speed ahead.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Ryan Rasmussen said...

The sail has been raised!

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Well, I'm still coughing, so I think I have TB. When I find out, I'll be sure to let you know...

You didn't mention the sweet little girl in the Satan outfit at DaVinci's Cafe.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Tony Shoemaker said...

To Eric and Ryan-

When am I going to be invited to go camping with you both? I am feeling left out. but perhaps not with the disease floating around twixt you two.

Impunity! Impunity! Write the saga that screams to spew forth from you!

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...


Any time, dude! We can all meet in northern PA or something. But Ryan might be in LA by the time camping season comes around again...


9:29 PM  

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