As a result of my Connor Wars project, I often get asked, “Why?” What do I expect to get out of writing more than a season’s worth of scripts for a show that doesn’t exist anymore?
First off–I’m a writer. I write. I write because I can’t not write. All my literate life I’ve written. It’s more than what I do, it’s who I am. Sure, while I might sometimes be labeled an artist, or a manager, or a programmer; in my head, first and foremost, I consider myself a writer. Not that I’m a financially successful writer, mind you. Whether that’s more to do with my atrocious marketing ability than my skill at the art & craft of writing I cannot say. Regardless of any obvious reward, I am a writer.
So, what am I getting out of this particular project? Mostly? I’m having the time of my life. There is nothing I enjoy writing more than scripts. Sure, I can write stories and novels and whatnot, but my passion is screenwriting. I’ve been writing screenplays since the late 80s, and I’ve yet to find anything as creatively fulfilling (though haiku comes close, even though I’m a terrible haiku poet).
Though fun, that’s not to say that it isn’t a grind sometimes. YOU try writing 22 1-hour teleplays in 8.5 months (with another 6 scripts and 2.5 months to go) and see how energetic you are at the end of it. But it’s like the saying goes: if you get to do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s what this coming-up-on-a-year has been like.
That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t like to get paid for doing this thing I’ve been doing for free. Sure I would. Trouble is that stinkin’ catch-22 of things. Not being in L.A. (or some other movie town in various countries) pretty much shuts off the discussion. I know…I’ve been there. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to move unless I have a job in hand…which I can’t get because I’m not there. And so I sit. My city is a welcoming place if you have something to film (we have nifty vistas and new studios and stuff), but it’s a literal and metaphorical desert when it comes to being a place for a studio to plant its creative offices.
Like many of you, I am confused at the need for a non-sitcom writer having to be in a certain place. We live in an age of near-instant text, voice, and video interaction; and yet the sine qua non for writing (esp. TV writing) is to be permanently located in L.A. It’s actually a tad ironic, being that no one in Hollywood seems to want to have to see the writers anyway.
“But CJ,” you might be saying, “if you love writing so, why don’t you write novels?”
Fair enough. In a few weeks, I hope to have available on this site links to a novel I wrote fairly recently. While I like it, I imagine it will prove that as a novelist I make a fair screenwriter. (Odds are.) More on this when it gets released.
Dream of dreams, of course, is to have some Whedon-house show runner have their pilot picked up and then stumble across this season o’ scripts I’ve written, have their jaws drop, and say, “Hie to me thy words, visual scribe, and from thine mind we shall maketh images animated, amusing, and dramatic. In recompense thine purse will sing with the peal of coin. What say ye?”
At that point I would, naturally, wonder what century I was in–as well as what country and how deep into the sanatorium–but being adaptable I would sally forth and writeth themeth goode wordseth.
And since none of that will happen, because that’s not how things happen, I’ll still be here writing away. Not so much a season-plus of television, but other stuff. Perhaps, even, haiku. Here’s one from when Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles was being filmed here in Albuquerque in December 2006 (so it’s almost relevant to the project):