Sunday, April 15, 2007

Never Ending To Do List

I can never get through my to do list... it just keeps growing and growing.

I actually have a To Do List. So many things are going on at the same time that I will lose track and forget something important if I don’t write it down. I wish I could say that I used to remember everything - but my memory was never that good. Okay, it’s good when it comes to completely unimportant trivia, but not good for anything that really matters - like RSVPing or sending in articles to Script or that meeting I had where they wanted me to send them a one pager on some script of mine. I just forget anything important unless it’s written down.

So, I return from Hong Kong and all of the things I would have done over the two weeks hasn’t been done (who would do it?) And there are even some odd additions. While I was gone, some folks ordered some stuff - Blue Books - and I don’t yet have a permanent printing company yet and am close to out of stock on everything... and that means dropping off originals at the printers and waiting for them to get around to it....

Except it wasn’t that easy.


So, I get back from a long flight with no sleep and I’m not feeling well. Probably the no sleep and two breakfasts on the planes - I’m not used to eating that many rubbery omelets. I decide to take a nap - because that’s what you do when it’s the middle of the afternoon and you haven’t slept in over 24 hours. You don’t *sleep* - it’s the middle of the day. Sunlight is blasting through the bedroom window. So you nap. Sort of drifting for a couple hours at a time. Somewhere around 9pm I decide to grab a meal and maybe watch a DVD... except I still don’t feel good. I force myself to eat a salad to make up for all of that crappy plane food, and pop in one of my HK DVDs - praying that it will play in my USA DVD player. While in HK I bought a couple of DVDs that weren’t available in the USA, but I was afraid - regions and all - that they might just end up souvenirs. "Yeah, I bought that Johnny To DVD in Hong Kong, can’t play it, but the box art is cool, isn’t it?" Anyway - DVD plays perfectly. Next time I’m in HK I’ll but a couple dozen.

The next morning I wake up feeling ever worse.... then I puke. And puke some more. And puke until part of the heels of my feet get stuck in my throat.

For the next few days I’m sick *and* jet lagged. At first I thought it was food poisoning - but after a couple of days I figured it was a virus. Probably something from being stuck in a plane with a bunch of coughing sneezing people for over a dozen hours. My mom always gives me that Airborn stuff, but I never remember to take it. I must have a dozen unopened boxes in the medicine cabinet.

Nothing at all gets crossed off from the To Do List. And the list actually grows - though nothing gets added while I’m puking. I write the additions when I’m back to normal.

Much of the stuff on the list has to do with my May class in LA - I need to buy ads and "Johnny Appleseed" brochures to places where screenwriters might be found. But while I was in HK I got a mound of e-mails on all sorts of things - from producers interested in screenplays (one contract, two requests for hard copies, one request for a PDF... done from a Starbucks in HK) to a producer who has a tenuous connection to a major studio who wants me to come up with a stack of pitches for DVD sequels to movies from their theatrical library, to rewriting the last two scenes of a page one rewrite on a script that a manager wants to read. Plus there’s the usual article for Script Magazine, the usual tip rewrites and new tips, and rewriting my book and editing 8 CDs worth of classes. Not to mention that script a friend of mine gave me to read over the holidays - I read it and wrote notes in longhand, but you can’t e-mail longhand. Problem is - every time I start to type them up I realize I have no idea what this note means - and I’ll have to re-read the danged script. Many of the things on my to-do list fall into this odd category - stuff that go put off so long I now have to start from scratch. I have a stack of half-written script tips that require me to re-see some awful film in order to complete. I actually have to watch BLACK DAHLIA again for one - don’t hold your breath on that one.

Now, my ability to prioritize sucks. Part of that is not knowing what odd longshot might actually pay off. My career (whatever that is) has been one long shot after another. I never know what is a complete waste of time and what will lead to my next sale.


So, once I’m back on my feet and ready to write I decide to finish the page one rewrite - I’m only two scenes away, right? And that’s the day my laptop becomes a paperweight.

A side effect of that is that the HK blog entries that I’ve written... are trapped on that machine. Eventually I will either get the paperweight turned back into a computer or rewrite those three entries.

But the larger issues are of momentum. Even after I buy this shiny new laptop, I’m bummed out and feel more like goofing off on message boards than anything productive. I rewrite some tips - that is the never-ending job that must be done every single day whether I feel like it or not.

There’s a thread on my message boards called Writers And Depression. I added an upbeat post or two... but when everything seems to just go wrong at the same time, it’s difficult not to wonder why God hates me. Friends of mine have commented that I have the worst luck of anyone they know - bad things happen to me. From out of the blue. I try to just smile through it - and so far I’ve survived. Anyway - I was not feeling like being productive for a while... and part of that might have been residual jet-lag-and-flu.

When I finally felt like working again - and had the new laptop loaded up with all of my programs and projects - I sat down and cranked out the beginning of one of those 2 scenes, then got a phone call from a producer. He’d looked over my list of loglines and really liked this one at the bottom... A script from 1989. I didn’t tell him it was from 1989, and I didn’t tell him that it was written on some ancient computer that I no longer owned - so all I had was a hard copy. And I didn’t tell him that hard copy sucked - you know, it’s like 20 years old! I’ve actually learned something in the past 20 years. So I tell him I’ll get the script to him in a couple of days... and shift gears. I had scanned in the script a year ago and actually done some of the rewrite already - so it wouldn’t take me too long to finish it...

Except it’s on the paperweight.

I have to rescan it. I have to correct all of the weird things that happen when you scan a script (suddenly, there are characters named IN THE CLOSET - now, that’s kind of on the nose as a character’s name, and what’s more, his dialogue seems to be a description of what happens in the closet in one scene). Once I’ve done all that - I still have to do the rewrite I was going to do before. Part of the rewrite is a change in location - the logline the producer read takes place in a completely different location than the 20 year old version of the script. The rewrite on the paperweight actually addressed this - but it’s on the paperweight. So I’ve been focused on that rewrite... and nothing else on the To Do List has been To Done.

And the most I’ve done on the DVD sequel project is to make a list of "sequel possible" movies in this particular studio’s library. It’s a good list. I’m afraid if I wait too long one of the 53 other screenwriters this producer called will come up with a bunch of lame ideas... and those are the ones they will go with.

I’m getting close to getting all of the day-today stuff back on schedule (they’re printing blue books, now all I have to do is fold and staple and mail them) and I’m half done with the Script Magazine article that was due a couple of days ago. I still have new script tips to write up, but I think I’ll find the time to squeeze that in.

But the worst part about my To Do List? Well, I met 3 producers in HK (from here) who want to read scripts... and I haven’t gotten back to them. I don’t want them to forget me!

Hmm, I can cross off "New Blog Entry"! The list is one item shorter now!

So now I’m doing well, but busy as hell.

- Bill


Anonymous said...

Hey Bill so how did KH seminar go in the end? Brief version until the blog is cool...

Janet Smith said...

No Man is an island Bill!

I think you need to decide if you can afford not to get a secretary.

Even if you can't afford someone full time, what about a few hours a week from someone who's retired and looking for extra cash or better still get an intern!

I think the post would pay for itself, because you don't need to do all the admin stuff yourself, you'll have more time to do the important stuff.

wcmartell said...

Big issue really is the script stuff - hard to hire help to do that.

- Bill

Crazy James said...

A good robot will only cost you capital on the front end.

I have two in my fireworks shop in Tennessee

Unk said...

I'll bet you could get an assistant for free if you're willing to give them a few tips.

Hard to trust people though... LOL.


Richard said...

You could actually remove the hard disk from your 'paperweight' and use it as an external drive on any other computer. It doesn't cost much (<$20) and, generally, connects via USB.

If you did this, you would have access to all your 'lost' data. Alternatively, you would have an inexpensive external hard disk to make back-ups of your current files ready for when the shiny new laptop dies!

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