Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Waiting

I am always waiting for something. All my life I have been waiting for one thing or another. Waiting for Santa. Waiting for my birthday. Waiting for school to be over. Waiting to turn sixteen. Waiting for some girl to finally let me see her naked. Waiting for just the right moment. Waiting for the light to change. You would think with so much experience that I would have gotten used to it. But I have never gotten used to it. I hate it. Oh sure, I have developed certain strategies to try and deal with the annoyance of waiting. These are mostly distractions. I have become quite good at crossword puzzles. I like to read. Sometimes I exercise. But mostly I just play mind games with myself.

A couple of months ago, I decided to take some time off from work and write a draft of a screenplay based on a book about the Cuban missile crisis called October Fury. A producer had offered me some money to write it, but I got tired of waiting for the money so I just went ahead and wrote it. As it turned out, two days after I completed the draft, the producer pitched the idea to a big-shot at Touchstone Pictures. The big shot seemed very interested and asked to see a screenplay. Suddenly we needed a screenplay and fortunately, I had one.

I spent one more week going over the draft to clean it up, then sent it out to the author of the book, his agent, the producer and our inside man, an exec at Disney/Touchstone who hooked us up with the big-shot. Then I waited. Would they like it? Would there be a lot of changes? Would they let me know what I needed to change in time for me to turn it around? We had promised the script to the big-shot by a certain date. And we certainly didn't want to keep him waiting.

As it happened, I had plenty of distractions lined up for this week of waiting. The Buzzards had a rehearsal and a show coming up. And my lovely Italian muse, Laura, was in town. Rehearsal went well, the gig was great -- Laura was there. Laura and I spent a wonderful day together at the Lake Shrine. I actually stopped obsessing about the script for a whole day.

Of course, the next day, I was back to checking my email every five or ten minutes, waiting for some kind of response to my draft. I sent out a reminder that we only had one more week to play with if there were going to be a lot of changes. I waited. The next day I woke up with a fever. I spent two days in bed, getting up every couple of hours to check my email. Still nothing.

Finally, on Friday, three days before the deadline, I heard from the author who forwarded an email from his agent saying the script was "very professional." I guess that means it was O.K. He didn't actually say he liked it, but he didn't suggest any changes either. That night the producer called and told me our inside man liked the script and had one suggestion -- the addition of a short scene to clarify the plot. I was still pretty groggy from fever, but I managed to hack out a decent scene. I sent the revised draft out on Saturday night. Sunday I slept all day. On Monday, I got a call from the producer telling me that the script had been delivered to Touchstone. Now the real waiting begins.

This guy at Touchstone is an executive VP. That means he only answers to one person, the head of Disney, Nina Jacobs. If he likes the script he shows it to her. If she likes it my whole life changes forever. Even the fact that this guy is going to be reading my script is a pretty huge break for me. It is potentially the biggest opportunity I have ever had. It could mean the realization of everything I have devoted the past ten years of my life to. It would make all of the sacrifice worthwhile. It would erase all of the doubt, the guilt and the shame of my frivolous existence. It would mean validation and recognition and encouragement after years of failure, solitude and fear.

Or not.

So I wait. Weeks have gone by. The Buzzards played another gig. I came down with bronchitis. Laura went back to Rome. No word from Touchstone. I bought some CDs to play in the car and learn Italian. I haven't listened to them for two weeks. The Buzzards have no new gigs scheduled. I've gone through a stack of crossword puzzles. I check my email constantly.

My friend Glen called the other day. Glen works at Phoenix Pictures and wants to produce his own movie. He pitched me an idea and I liked it. In fact, I was working on it when the October Fury project came up. I had gotten about halfway through a draft and then got tangled up in the other thing. Glen had been in New York for a while and just got back. He and I started brainstorming about our script -- we seem to have developed a method where he throws out an outrageous idea that I think is a joke and somehow it ends up being a perfect scene for the script. He got me back into the story. I had left all of those characters hanging to work on this other project that I was supposed to get paid for. I had left Glen hanging too. I guess he has been waiting for me. He has other projects going on too, but I know he has a lot riding on this one. So instead of waiting for Touchstone, I could be creating another opportunity.


I guess I have a lot of work to do.