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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog

(OR EL DUDERINO IF YOU'RE NOT INTO THE WHOLE BREVITY THING)

-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Good Writing Story

I thought this past issue of scr(i)pt magazine (Mar/Apr - Silent Hill on the cover) was a particularly good one, with lots of good articles in it. I have not yet read this current issue, but I'm sure Warren's debut article in there will be awesome. But I did want to mention one short story that was in this past issue that I really enjoyed.

Each month, the magazine profiles 2-3 developing writers, who have sold their first scripts to Hollywood. In this issue, one of those writers is Matt de la Peña. In answering the prompt, "Writing Quirks," he related the following:

A successful painter works out of a studio on my block. Like me, he seems to prefer working late at night. And, he works a lot. Just about every night, I end up needing something at the local bodega; and on my way there and back, I peek into his window to see if he's hard at work. At first it was just to entertain myself: "There he is again," I'd say, "hard at work." But, over time I've developed this insane, borderline unhealthy competition with him. If I walk by with a couple slices of pizza and he's working, I'm moved to sprint up my stairs, wolf down my food, and fire up my laptop. I have to outwork him to make it as a writer. Conversely, if I pass his studio on my way to write and his lights are off, I literally pump my fist in the air and shout, "Yes! I've got you now!" Then I scurry up my stairs and get to it. I guess we all do what we have to do to motivate. The strange part is, I don't believe the painter even knows I exist.

I love this story for a number of reasons. First of all, I used to love to look at people's lit up apartments as I passed them at night in New York City. No, not like a peeping Tom or anything! Just a glance to see what interesting things were there (and left visible for the whole city to see, not through curtained windows or anything). So I relate to this story. Second, I love the way he found a way to use the painter as motivation no matter which way he encountered him (working or not, both motivated him). We all need to do this, I think.

Lastly, I love the idea, which he brings home in his last line, about how the painter doesn't even know he exists. This is a concept I've thought a lot about -- the way we affect so many people's lives around us without even thinking about it. We all can have huge impacts on others around us, which is both gratifying and astounding, but also brings a great responsibility with it. We can bring such good to the world around us, even unknowingly, if we act as examples of good. Since the converse is equally true, we must be aware all the time, and hope that we only make a negative impact rarely, if at all.

Anyway, find your own "painter" as a motivating force, and use it in such a way that it motivates no matter what.

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7 Comments:

Blogger daninthemix said...

Inspirational post bro. Good observations ;o)

2:37 AM  
Blogger Systemaddict said...

Yeah, I relate to this. I just wrote something similar in my blog, about finding inspiration. It's a strange beast, but once tamed--it's like keeping a kitten entertained, all you need is a ball and string- the rest takes care of itself.

cheers

11:34 AM  
Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

Great story and observations, Joel. Anyone who lives in city and has their shades up at all hours, or their blinds exposed, invites everyone to look into their homes to a lesser degree. Hoping that will be polite and they won't gawk or stalk.

In my neighborhood, we all have our computer monitors close to the windows and as much as we do it to gather inspiration from the outside world, it's also to show the world that we are working.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous chris soth said...

Matt De La Pena?

I'VE GOT HIM NOW!!!!!

nice story...

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Devin B. said...

Good stuff Joel.

I think it's impossible to be uninspired in something that truly interests you. Since embarking upon my journey as a burgeoning (aspiring) scribe, I have discovered within myself a wealth of inspiration and creativity. Ideas pop into my head faster than I can capture many of them – or WRITE them! I walk around with a CVS Composition notebook and a pen, jotting down whatever ideas pop into my noggin – however silly or mundane. Someday I’ll be glad I did.

It is hard to find time to write though. With my wife and I starting a new business (she bakes cakes... I help decorate some of them and support her as much as possible), and both of us working full-time jobs on top of that (my job being a 75 mile commute one-way), life is a bit complicated. But I’m not complaining... this is the path I’ve chosen for myself (for now).

We’ll see in August (and in the fall) if my writing turns any heads or receives any nods from the contests I’ve entered into. If not, I’ll just keep trying.

Best Regards,
~Devin

2:47 PM  
Blogger Emily Blake said...

Good story indeed. I can relate because I'm really competitive myself. I've got a personal trainer at the gym who makes me feel that way about working out. If he catches me not working hard enough he gives me hell, but if I'm "dogging it" he smiles and high fives me. I live for his praise (he's both hot and adorable, a winning combination), so I always work really hard at the gym just in case he comes around the corner.

I think I'll tell him to call me every afternoon and demand to know why I'm not writing.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Kid Sis said...

Really cool.

I wonder if I'm anyone's painter...and if they mistake my 4 am viewings of Twilight Zone for active screenwriting...

11:07 PM  

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