Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 10: I Wanna Be Sedated

I never knew Joey Ramone, nor Dee Dee, Johnny or Marky for that matter, but I respect The Ramones. I've no idea where this is going. Well, I do know actually.

As a writer, I need to have "numerous projects in various stages of development" ready to pitch at any and every Producer and/or financier the moment that I find myself in an elevator with them/him/her. I've got three floors to give them the "elevator pitch", alternatively referred to as "25 words or less": "Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenneger, it's called Twins"; that's the famous one.

Coming up with 25 words or less is a skill in itself only paralleled by the "leaving card" that circulates the office, thrust into your hand to sign: "Who's leaving?"..."Mary"..."Who's Mary?"..."She's in accounts, you know Mary"..."No, I don't"..."Yes you do. Look, just write something would you?" I open the card and read what others have written. How do people come up with those pithy witticisms? The best I can muster is "Mary, good luck in your new job".

I have "numerous projects in various stages of development". I've got synopses (long and short), treatments, scripts, one-liners and I've got them in all sorts of genres. I've got a rom-com about a writer who is bent on going to New York to track down Woody Allen and instead, holes up in a Sydney hotel pretending to be a feted screenwriter trying to impress the latest American female ingenue who's really a waitress/between jobs Australian actress. How about the Biopic (true life story) of Nigerian eco/political activist Ken Saro-Wiwa who was executed by a despotic government in league with Shell Oil?! Or there's my Ramones story: Dear Joey.

Wherever you go in the world, there's always one callow and disaffected youth (girl or boy) wearing a Ramones t-shirt. The fact that they're wearing the signature shirt, some 30 years after the event, acts, I believe, as some sort of secret signal to any other disenfranchised kid also wearing a Ramones shirt; it's like a silent, conspiratorial, melacholic nod: "don't too."

What happened to the original Ramones kids of the late 70's, what's become of them now? Dear Joey is the story of a late 30-something housewife, sitting in her 4WD at the school gates who hears Sheena Is A Punk Rocker on the radio and the news that Joey Ramone is dying of lymphoma in a New York hospital; Joey's lyrics saved her from her dangerously razor-edged life back then, perhaps she can return the favour now to Joey and maybe jolt herself out of her stultifyingly, turgid life in the process?

What's my point in telling you this story?

Day #10 Tip: Think Time Is The Writer's Most Valuable Asset
When someone gives me money to write (they do from time-to-time), the biggest wave of relief that washes over me is not the one that comforts me with the news that I have more time to sit at the keyboard, it's the tsunami of liberation that I feel knowing that I can now do some thinking, proper, productive thinking.

If I sit at the computer and try to solve a scene, my eyes begin to bleed before too long. If I can remember that what I need to do is distract my brain my doing something different, repetitive and active - driving, walking swimming - then the solution to my writing problem will often come to me. Laundry is a favourite one of mine; I love taking things that are dirty and turning them into items of cleanliness. But whatever the activity is that you choose to do, make sure that you're carrying a pen, a couple of index cards and a even a small notebook. How many times have I walked around Centennial Park when a solution to some knotty or gnarly script problem has come to me and I've thought: "I'll remember that and write it down when I get home." It just doesn't happen friends.

Whatever time you have available for writing, use well. It maybe that the time when you're going about the other things that you/we all have to do in life is the time that the left and right-hand sides of our brains can join hands, have a party and solve the problems we can't come up with staring at the computer screen; like how to pitch Dear Joey in 25 words or less?

Gabba Gabba Hey Hey

No comments:

Post a Comment