Hello, all. As you may have gleaned from the title of this post, today is a very special day for me. You see, some time ago I picked this day, December 15th, 2008, as my deadline for securing literary representation.
Most of my time leading up to this day was spent writing and filling my portfolio with “product”. In the beginning, I was bold and ambitious, drafting huge titles such as B.L.O.O.M., a five night miniseries about humankind being scanned into android containers in order to escape a self-destructing planet earth and continue the race in the unfriendly climates of outer space. I was sure it was better than anything being offered on the Sci-Fi channel at the time, and whether I was wrong or right remains a mystery. If one were to deduce from my success and the success of those scribes responsible for classic fare such as “Yeti” and “Mansquito”, I would have been proven quite wrong. As it was, I could only contact a small bunch of agents as many that might have found it interesting required I be represented already; a quandary I’ve yet to get my head around. Anyway, it was too much for anyone to accept for a new writer, or such was my conclusion. Maybe it was just bad. Who knows? But it remains in a drawer where it is likely to stay until human beings really do need to escape the planet–which, if I may borrow a little cynicism to cheer me up, could be soon from the looks of things.
After B.L.O.O.M., I began to pen wildly: big budget horror trilogy here, complex, semi-animated dark coming-of-age tale there. Getting smart–or so I thought–I eventually wrote a screenplay for something that I thought fit the budget of most of those producers one finds on Inktip.com (where I listed all of my titles for $50/ea). It was a small movie, but scary in a subtle, unsettling sort of way. It was, I thought, tightly scripted, yet loose enough to include a director’s touch. It pushed the moral envelope, as I’m wont to do, but I suffered great pains to reset the compass at the end in order to include a larger slice of American movie-going public. As Hollywood cranked out remake after remake, I dared them with my story of false redemption by the sea. I even made a video about it for a contest that I didn’t win. But no matter, some projects you believe in no matter how many signs seek to convince you otherwise.
And then I got a call.
It was an honest to goodness Hollywood agent. I’ll never forget it, as it was a dreary Sunday night and I was already heading for bed. It was damn near the greatest phone call I’d ever received at that time slot: she fawned over my style and craft; she loved the characters, right down to their clever little names; she got all my inside jokes and was picking Hollywood A-listers in her head for the roles. She even shared my interest in characters with skin color anomalies! And then, after two hours, my phone’s battery began to alert me that it was about to cut off. She said no worry, we would talk later. In a few days, I think she said.
Errr…no. It was never, actually. A few reassuring emails and another screenplay sent post-haste to her door later, the romance was over. I’m not sure if it was the second screenplay I sent her (complex, semi-animated, dark coming-of-age thing) or something entirely unrelated to me and my writing. People, as it turns out, are human. And humans have shit come up all the time. But instead of getting bitter, I took the little jolts of confidence that the original phone call sent through me and decided to write something new; something that seemed a surefire sale, but without compromising the subject matter and style inherent in my other “product”. This one would be something I could almost budget over the phone, and I even had a high concept teaser to go with it. “Lost in Transfusion” I called it, in an attempt to excite another to call with dreams of pushing an indie horror film that boasted an elegant, Sofia Coppola vibe but with a large toe in the vampire zeitgeist pool. It was set at a three-day horror convention in a hotel and everything (timelock!). Young girl with tragic past meets old author dude with a horrific solution. So excited was I–and undaunted by my rejection–that I started immediately penning a character sketch of the main character, Eliza.
Two months later I had a novella. Yeah, I wasn’t feeling burned about Hollywood at all. Noooo.
But you know what, I loved it when it was finished. Still do. And it got me to do my next book, which I’m buttoning-up just now. And it seems I’m starting back at the beginning when I was writing about subjects that you will not easily find on the Border’s front tables. In fact, just yesterday I took a stroll around the popular bookstore franchise and was a little hard-pressed to work out where this new story would fit. Horror was close, but not quite right. And up front next to the new offering from the guy who wrote The Kite Runner was a stretch too far, for sure. Where do the genre-benders go? Do we have a special club where we smoke cigarettes and say clever things until the wee hours? Is their a movement about, because I’d really like to know. At the moment I’m calling it “high-camp, dark fiction”. I could just as easily call it an “over-the-top thriller with horror elements”. A part of me would love to just slip a few next to a Martha Stewart cookbook, and see how it goes over. Anyway, the queries for this one are in production, and at least I get a chance to say there’s a message under all that romp. We’ll see, won’t we?
Anyway, today’s professional specialness is running a little low. I don’t think I’ll get that call, but I’m likely to get a few others. And what is always as sure as “shit on your shoe”, I’ll be writing and querying and pushing the boundaries as I see them until it’s time to go home. Because possibly worse than never becoming a serious author in my lifetime is becoming one writing stuff that betrays those early efforts where I was bold and undaunted by the industry, the economy, remake hysteria and being just another guy in the middle of nowhere who thinks he has something to say. I think I always want to be that guy.
It still wouldn’t hurt to get another Sunday phone call that doesn’t go where you think it might, though. But like so many journeys a writer takes, if he takes them for the right reasons, where you end up may prove well worth visiting.
Rest in peace, Ms. Page.