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Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Writing Demon

I think we all secretly want to be magicians.

A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
- Sidney Sheldon


It's true. Essentially you are playing God when you write. And many people often whine to God about life and wish he would just fix it already. Many people often wish they were God or at least had her powers. Well you wanna know what it's like to be God, pull up your chair to a blank piece of paper or to that blank word document on your computer. Sidney Sheldon may very well have said it right. Writing is like playing God. And from my personal experience, it's painful, it's agonizing, it's frustrating, it's hellish, it's a burden on your heart and a black mark on your soul. And there is no truer bliss. Which reminds me of another quote.

It's tougher than Himalayan yak jerky on january. But, as any creative person will tell you, there are days when there's absolutely nothing sweeter than creating something from nothing.
- Richard Krzemien


Ain't that the truth. There is absolutely nothing sweeter than creating something from nothing. Something from nothing. Hmm.

I bring this up because that's where I'm at right now. Yeah, yeah, production on shorts are pending, still working on Monster Cops episodes, and marketing The Midnight Special. I'll never stop being a movie maker, but along with that I'll never stop being a writer. And I'm at that point right now. Staring down the blank page. Finding that road that'll lead me straight to that fucking Demon. The Writing Demon that wrestles me to the ground right when I think I've got my pace going. What sucks is that he also likes to kick me in groin, point and laugh at me as I'm in pain, and then he always says the same thing and it never makes any sense, "How do ya like that Francis?!" Then he gives me a wet willy, does some sort of strange Xena Warrior Princess combat yell, and then runs off into the darkness. So weird. He's got fucked up teeth to. I mean like evil Vampire teeth, but also like red neck hasn't seen a toothbrush in ages teeth. He's missing a fang or two. And who the fuck is Francis?

I don't really know any other way to do it. I do start the same way. First the brainstorming section. I buy a brand new slim, 3 ring, black folder. I three hole punch 50 sheets of white paper, stick em in the rings, close the folder, set out a Pentel RSVP black 91 writing pen. And then I sit and stare at the closed folder. If you ever happen upon me as this is happening, you'd probably think I was praying. I always contemplate with my hands together as if in prayer, right before I open the folder. I guess all great quests must start with some form of ceremony or ritual. After that I fling the folder open and stare down the page. I start writing. Not with the capped pen still sitting on the desk, mind you. I'm writing in my head.

It is of course a screenplay I'm working on once again. So what I'm really doing is seeing the movie in my head. And you'd think after all this time, I'd have it down. All the little tricks and gimmicks to writing a movie. Writing isn't about tricks and gimmicks. Certainly not when it's a comedy/mystery you're trying to write. But the biggest hurdle is the fact that you have to write low budget. Meaning I'm trying to piece together scenes that I can shoot with what little resources I have here. And I'm not home in Texas, where I know where everything is. I know how to get whatever I need there. I'm in North Carolina, in an area that I'm not completely familiar with. Mainly surrounded by much forest. Hey, forest is good. I can write comedic mysteries in forests.

So I have a picture in my head. I actually pick up the pen. I write a few things down, knowing full well that I'm going to be scribbling it out just minutes from now. Oh, here comes the first scribble. What? I wrote down a scene involving 3 characters. Who the hell are going to be playing these three characters when I know good and well I'll most likely only be able to get 2. I even went into detail with the dialogue being about how cold the rain is. This may not necessarily be shot in winter, and even if it is, there is no garuntee that it will be cold or raining that day. So let's stick to things we can control. I am afterall only God on paper.

The limitations are endless when it comes to finding that creative niche. Over and over things go in and out of your brain. The writer in me says, "I have this great scene idea that takes place in a warehouse, surely we can find a warehouse somewhere." Then the director in me kicks in going, "don't tie the scene to a warehouse if it's not on the list of places that are garunteed." The come the random thoughts. "Ooh! A scene that involves flying pigs in a Russian Orthodox Cathedral! Dammit! If only we had a delorean and a time flux capacitor!" "I've got it! Talking Animals!" It's easy and sometimes necessary to go on tangents. Which reminds me of a scene from The West Wing.

Sam and Toby are working on the President's Thanksgiving Proclamation Speech.

SAM [cont.]
A small band of pilgrims sought out a
place in the New World where they could
worship according to their own beliefs...
and solve crimes.

TOBY
Sam...

SAM
It'd be good.

TOBY
Read the thing.

SAM
By day, they churn butter and worship
according to their own beliefs and by
night, they solve crimes.

TOBY
Read the thing.

SAM
Pilgrim detectives.

TOBY
Do you see me laughing?

SAM
I think you're laughing
on the inside.

TOBY
Okay.

SAM
With the big hats.


The West Wing Season 2. Episode 30 'SHIBBOLETH'
TELEPLAY BY: AARON SORKIN
STORY BY: PATRICK H. CADDELL


Ok, gotta buckle down. What am I working on? Am I working on the script for that feature that I may or may not shoot, or am I working on that 5 minute short that I know that I will shoot? Believe it or not I pick the hardest of the two to work on. The 5 minute short. Heck I need to get more shorts out there on the internet and in fests and stuff, lets' get to work on that. With the feature I can go hog wild and then go back and correct all the impossible things I cannot possibly shoot. With 5 pages/minutes, we're talking about trying to nail it as close to the mark as possible. I mean if I go hog wild now and write in impossible scenes, I'd only be wasting time, because in 10 minutes I gotta go back and look at reality. So I go through the routine of talking outloud as I pace. This cannot be avoided with me. I have to talk outloud, I have to move around. And in the midst of trying to write in my head, I have to do other things within the time I'm walking and talking. I have to do origami, I have to practice card tricks, I have to scream, jog in place, throw things, do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight. All these things are necessary. I don't know why, they just are.

It's agonizing. I mean it's a real physical hurt to just get to that creative point, trying to come up with that idea. And it's not one that I can get help with. I have to be alone. I have to have my privacy. All by my lonesome, feeling that pain, trying to give birth to something. Some sort of strange immaculate conception of which the labor has no definite end. Could take hours, could take months. But in 5 pages and 5 minutes a story can be told with the resources at hand. And it's right there. It's staring right at me and I can't see it fully, but I know it's right there. That moment of brilliance is right there. THERE! Over by the trash can, next to the fridge, it's right there. Then it's gone. Stolen, taken, yanked away by guess who.

INT. ROOM - NIGHT

PATRICK stares blankly at "It" as THE WRITING DEMON grabs hold of it and begins to run.

PATRICK
Hey!
The Demon stops in his tracks clutching on to "It".

DEMON
What?

PATRICK
For just like, once, could you just hand
that to me. Or at the very least leave it in
one place so I can grab hold of it?


The Demon is about to turn away as an evil smirk grows on his face.

PATRICK
I'll give you 5 bucks.

The Demon laughs at this.

DEMON
20.

PATRICK
10 bucks. Ooh...

Patrick searches his pockets.

PATRICK (con't)
and a deck or cards. And a stick of gum.

DEMON
Is it sugarless?

PATRICK
Yes.

DEMON
It has to be sugarless.

PATRICK
Like it matters with your teeth.

The Demon turns around upset. Patrick panics.

PATRICK
I've got CD's in the car.

DEMON
Like what?

PATRICK
Cold Play.

DEMON
No thank you.

PATRICK
AC/DC, Gnarls Barkley.
Ooh, I've got Public Enemy.

DEMON
Apocalypse 91?

PATRICK
No it's Fear Of A Black Planet.

DEMON
You'd give up Fear Of A Black Planet?

Patrick thinks about this.

PATRICK
I can burn you a copy.

DEMON
Or you can keep the copy and
I can have the CD.

PATRICK
What's wrong with the copy?

DEMON
I like liner notes. Makes me feel like
I really have the whole package, like
I've really got something, ya know.

PATRICK
Yeah like Vinyl. Album cover and all.
It's all about the music, sure, but you feel
like you've got something substantial and
not just something you burned or downloaded.

DEMON
Exactly.


Patrick smiles. They're really getting along.

PATRICK
(Smiling)
Alright then. We have a deal.

The Demon smiles. But the smile slowly turns to a pout.

DEMON
(Angry)
Screw you Francis!

The Demon runs off with "It". Patrick is confused.

PATRICK
Wait! No wait! I have ABBA!

He pauses to see if there is a response.

PATRICK (con't)
Fleetwood Mac?

Another pause.

PATRICK (con't)
Starland Vocal Band?!

Patrick gives up and heads back to the desk. He stops suddenly
and turns back to the Demon's direction.

PATRICK (con't)
Who the fuck is Francis?

CUT TO BLACK


And so it is that the agony continues until you can get back to "It". That idea, that moment of wonder. That little spark to get things going. And once you're going it's not an easy path your on. There is no such thing as writing, only rewriting. The labor pains can last you a while. But once it's all said and done and your baby is born. It is a sight to be hold. And all the agony, frustration, and pain was worth it.

Then you do it all over again.

Let's face it, that's the most addicting part of playing God on paper. Creating. Creating is an addiction. Especially when we're trying to create something out of what is seemingly nothing. And I think it's true for most things, whether your painting a picture, knitting a sock, constructing a building, or writing a movie. We all like the feeling of starting with what seems like nothing and creating something out of it.

Like pulling cards out of the air. Ya know, like a magician.


Follow the path of your aroused thought, and you will soon meet this infernal inscription: There is nothing so beautiful as that which does not exist.
- Paul Valery

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