Distracted with dreams of professional screenwriting and hamstrung by illness. That’s why I’ve been away.
Yeah, I realize that I kind of just fell off a cliff there somewhere in December last year, but I got caught up in a lot of things. So let me just bring everyone up to speed on what’s been going on. Before I get to that, however, I will make this pledge: I’m going to write more. Simple enough.
When I was a kid, I used to love Christmas. My extended family is pretty big. So when I was a younger, I used to get so many toys that by the end of the gift-giving session I could literally build a fort around me out of the boxes the toys came in. I also loved Christmas because my extended family was all in one house and I got to hang out with my cousins who might as well have been siblings – they were that close to me. Somewhere along the line, however, the whole Asian competitiveness drove a wedge between everyone and when the parents talked about their children it was always about grades then colleges then jobs then salaries. These days it’s all about whose grandchild looks like a troll. Needless to say, I don’t really enjoy hanging out with them anymore, with a few exceptions of course.
Anyway, all of that is just a little preamble to give this post some texture. What really irks me about Christmas is that I keep forgetting how arduous the hours are between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. When I was a child, those hours were excruciating because I couldn’t wait to see what gifts were waiting for me under the fake Christmas tree. These days, those hours are difficult because I have to spend the night sleeping on the floor of my parent’s bedroom. One typically wouldn’t expect that to be too difficult a task, but I guess I’m just sensitive.
For one, I don’t know what’s wrong with my parents’ core temperatures, but they love to keep their home at a brisk 65 degrees. Of course the temperature drops dramatically the closer you get to the extremities of the home, like near windows. This house has absolutely no insulation around the windows, like the window I slept next to. You could open the window completely and it wouldn’t make a difference in temperature. I also don’t believe the second storey floor has any insulation either, so sound passes through it like tissue paper. What the second storey floor does have are built-in speakers my parents installed for their living room surround sound system. That means the all-night karaoke/Christmas music blared serenely into my ears until everyone finally decided to go home.
Then, just as the cold had sapped the last of my strength and I started to pass out, my parents came in to inflate their air mattresses with a loud electronic air compressor. They were also sleeping on the floor while my grandmother took their bed. Welcome to the Filipino hierarchy of comfort. The compressor was located next to my head, naturally. At last, the room went dark and everyone went to sleep. Except me, of course. I was damned to listen to my parents and grandmother snore all night. Their snores are so violent that I almost got up to make sure they weren’t choking on their own tongues. Instead, I lay freezing on the floor, staring into the darkness, passing the time by anticipating when the various snore rhythms would overlap, like three discordant melodies coming together to create a brilliant symphony for one measure every hour before falling out of sync and descending into cacophony once more.
Sleep finally took me around 5:30 a.m.
At 8 a.m. I was being poked and prodded and kicked to get up for Christmas morning gifts. I got the standard underwear, a few things from my wishlist and a tidy sum of cash. The best gift, however, was a raging cold that didn’t manifest until later that evening.
If there can be a good side to this recent bout of illness it’s that it didn’t turn into flu. Also, for a while there, I thought I was recovering from it pretty quickly. As soon as I knew I was sick, I immediately loaded up on meds and orange juice. I even busted out some Centrum. I don’t normally take vitamins because I can never get into the habit of taking them in the morning. Since I’ve been sick, I pop them regularly. So I guess that’s another upside. The downside to all this, of course, is the sheer lethargy and early bedtimes. I think, however, I’ve made a breakthrough with my cold and I’m in the recovery process. Hopefully that means I’ll be blogging more.
Screenwriting and Burning Contacts
As many of you know, I’m an aspiring screenwriter. To recap: I love movies and I love telling stories. With movies, there is seemingly no limit to your imagination. As a writer, I love screenwriting because there’s less research and credibility-building. If I want to write about a soldier, holding an M16, I can just write “There’s a soldier, holding an M16.” I don’t have to describe the weight of the gun, the feel of the metal or anything else to gain the reader’s trust, because with film, seeing is instantly believing. That allows me to focus more on the story, without getting bogged down in the details.
To be fair, I am not as aspiring as others who claim that title. I only have one heavily polished screenplay to my name – but it’s very good. Rest assured, I’m working on others, but the one that’s done is airtight and ready to go, which is why I focus so much attention on it, trying to get into the right hands. So far, it’s been pretty fruitless. Recently, however, one of my fellow entertainment journalists and good friend Parimal made a solid contact within the William-Morris talent agency. Parimal offered to pass my screenplay along. For people trying to break through the Industry wall, this is a big deal. Making contact with influential people is often difficult and you don’t want to burn your contacts on anyone other than yourself. In this case, however, Parimal sees this situation as win-win or win-win-win scenario, provided the agent likes my material. He’ll get new talent. I’ll move closer to my career goal. Parimal gets a feather in his cap for bringing us together.
This opportunity is another reason why I haven’t been updating my site. My director friend Adrian advised me to cut my screenplay down to 100 pages or no agent will pick it up to read it. So I mercilessly killed my darlings, truncating dialog, shortening exposition and finding the most concise ways to describe things. After all was said and done I chopped my 127-page script down to 110 pages. Yes, it was shy of the mark by 10 pages, but I hoped it would be close enough. Then I found out Adrian had said to cut the script down to 120 pages. I was elated, because now I’m good to go. I’m just waiting on a couple of faithful readers to get back to me to ensure my story still makes sense and – more importantly – is still good, then it’s all up to the agent.
I’ll keep you posted.