February 23, 2020

Death of a Screenwriter; Part One

His lifetime spent at a desk, blank pages hold him at gunpoint. Relationships as fleeting as the British summer, and his wealth; pocket money. ‘Why be a writer’ he says, it’s a cold truth that all screenwriters have to put themselves through, the trouble is most are blinded by their aspirations and dreams, each letter that stabs the page with ink, another nail in their acceptance speech coffin. So why is it that there are more young writers surfacing?

A mixture of film as the new novel, and a ‘get rich, quick’ scheme that has lost its sense of direction, the potential writers of the future think can’t write novel, won’t write novel; so write screenplay, anyone can write a film, it has almost become the new hobby, like collecting stamps or sex. It  is a strange concept to understand, as I’m genuinely being educated to become a screenwriter, and when I graduate I’ll look to extend my writing career and broaden my cinematic horizons, but if it’s just a hobby then why do I bother being educated? I could of pick up this degree for the price of a self-help book.

So is film the new novel? It seems there are more and more walking clichés ambling towards the nearest Starbucks to sit at their isolated desks with their Mac-books lit up like dying stars over the Hollywood Sign. What are they doing, checking their status updates? Is it not mandatory for a writer to be locked away in a dark room filled with scrunched up balls of paper and empty bottle of scotch; the clichés continue. ‘I’m working on a screenplay’ they say, half-heartedly optimistic about its premise, they amble on home after seven cappuccinos and a hard day at the office.

Then, it all seems like an accessory. ‘Why be a writer’ he says, it’s the bitterest pill to take and it’s twice a day. But you try and you try, you build bridges you make numerous cups of tea and coffee, and climb your way single headedly up the company ladder. Then, your script, your baby, years of effort put into something you are now reluctant to give away, a surrogate has been made of you. You hand it over to a pack of hyenas that tear it limb from limb until all that is left is few words on a page that you vaguely remember writing, and there you have it, your first film.

It certainly takes the shine off the apple, but this is way it works, you have to wade through syrup until you swim in the sea. Then after a tablespoon of dirt, a tablespoon of dirt, and a tablespoon of dirt, you taste a pinch of sugar. Then the addiction sets in, see, writing is tough, it’s arduous and it’s euphoric. But screenwriting, now that’s something else…

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