28 January 2011


While digging through my archives recently, I discovered this short piece I wrote several years ago. Writing it allowed me to vent some of the frustration I had with my job at the time, but once it was finished, I promptly forgot about it. I've decided to post it here with minimal editing in the hope that a reader may identify with it and find a bit of the same relief it brought to me.

* * * * *

"See me." Delivered via electronic message. Sometimes scribbled on a slip of paper.

"See me." The two worst words in the office vernacular. Lying in wait behind them are legions of meetings, commands, corrections. Thousands of wasted minutes will be spent receiving the same instructions delivered in different yet similar ways.

"See me." They are heavy with dark promise, an obscured future the only known fact of which is that it will be bad. You will be lectured and then dismissed to perform whatever new tasks have been assigned. But before you do them, you weigh them against all the old tasks and say in your mind, or may even dare to mumble, "As if I don't have enough to do already."

"See me." These words are produced when you commit an error resulting from one of two things: You weren't listening properly or they weren't explaining correctly. Either way, they will say, "Maybe I didn't explain correctly," but their tone will say, "You didn't listen." You are pretty sure it's a combination of both, but the main reason is that they assumed you have knowledge you don't actually have. They will give you this new knowledge in the most belittling manner possible, and you will go back to your desk and cursorily check Craig's List for new jobs. Yet even if you find something, you will not actually get around to sending in your resume.

"See me." An instant drag on morale, even before you respond to their summons. The moment you see those words you wish to be anywhere else, someplace where they can't spot you. Then, later, when they finally catch you and haul you in, you can plead ignorance. "I didn't know I should see you because I never saw the message." But they know you were there, at your desk, pretending to work on revenue reports but in reality browsing online for a new bedroom set you can't afford.

"See me." Sometimes the words are preceded with a quick back-and-forth e-mail exchange. You send them work. They respond with a question. You answer. They type those two words and tap the enter key. Inexorably, the words appear on your monitor. You will feel the temptation to quietly stand, board the elevator, and exit the building, never to return. But this feeling will only last momentarily, until you stand and enter their office. Still, the feeling will wait for you at your desk and greet you with open arms upon your return.

"See me re this" will appear at times above a forwarded message. You will read the message and experience either confusion or clarity. Confusion when you are unsure what it has to do with you or where you went wrong. Clarity when you foresaw it coming, briefly prophesied it in your imagination as you hesitated on a task or heard a bit of news.

"See me." The end of comfort and solace. The rise of irritation and panic.

07 January 2011


When you register a script with the Writers Guild of America, that registration is good for five years. Why not forever? Because then they wouldn't be able to send you a reminder asking if you would like to renew the registration and, incidentally, pay them another fee, thanks very much. I usually don't renew because I've mentally moved beyond the scripts I created that long ago. I wrote them, I rewrote them, I showed them to friends, I submitted them places, I rewrote them some more, they ended up going nowhere. They were a crucial step in my evolution as a writer, but they're ancient history, and whatever good I could wring out of them now with a thorough rewrite might be better used in a completely new script.

But I haven't had any new scripts as of late, not of the feature-length, write-register-and-submit variety. I've been too busy writing and producing stuff I could do with my collaborators on small budgets and completely neglecting the submitting aspects of my screenwriting career. In the past few months I had an epiphany: "You know, you can still write new scripts and submit them WHILE ALSO doing your low budget stuff." It was one of those "Uh, yeah, of course, you idiot" observations we sometimes have to make to ourselves because we are dumb.

So I got to work. I assumed all of my old feature scripts were either obsolete or already claimed by friendly filmmakers. I hemmed, I hawed, I combated creative blocks, I bitched and moaned, I wrote a couple new scripts. I got ready to rewrite them into "Official First Drafts" I can start submitting to production companies and agencies.

And then yesterday I got one of my reminders from the Writers Guild. "Hi, Asshole," it said. "Remember me?" I did indeed. It was for a script I don't even consider to be mine and, legally speaking, it's not. I wrote it for a producer based on his original idea. It ended up being shelved for whatever reason and never looked at again. The reminder awakened a few memories of the "Goddamn, has it been five years already? It seems so recently" variety. Which then led to "If it doesn't seem that long ago, maybe the other stuff I wrote back then is worth taking a look at."

Uh, yeah, of course, you idiot.

As it turns out, I've written a lot in the intervening years. Not all of it complete, not all of it worthy of being taken up again, not all of it solely mine and therefore not able to be submitted. But there's enough. And for once, I decided to forgo abandoning my past in favor of salvaging it. Over the next few months, I'm going to be reviewing some of my past scripts and seeing what needs to be changed, what needs to be updated, what is worth saving, and what is beyond salvation. At the same time, I'm going to be working on some new stuff, and will eventually have a portfolio of solid work I can show off to all the Hollywood hotshots who can't manage to shut the door on my foot.

I'm going to try to be better about updating here too. Whenever I need to rant about something, or promote a completed project, or maybe even show off something I wrote long ago but can't rework, I'll write a new post. But if things are (even more) quiet around here the next few months, you'll know why. I'm busy trying to get my dreams to pay off. Preferably in cash money. Wish me luck.