Struck out in contests, but…

A lot of the major screenwriting contests have wrapped up, or are in the process of, and once again, yours truly did not achieve the desired results.

A big fat goose egg on all fronts.

Disappointing? Very much so.

Frustrating? You betcha.

Making me wonder if my writing must be ridiculously bad? Without a doubt.

I wasn’t just in a hole of depression. I’d felt like I’d fallen into the deepest hole ever dug on Earth.

Fortunately, I wouldn’t be there long.

Encouragement from K and more than a few members of the screenwriting community reminded me of several very important things:

First – CONTESTS ARE ENTIRELY SUBJECTIVE. Sometimes your script clicks with readers, sometimes it doesn’t.

Second – CONTEST SUCCESS IS NOT A GUARANTEE FOR INDUSTRY SUCCESS. You can claim the top prize, but that doesn’t mean you should quit your day job. The road to an ongoing career is long, twisty, and loaded with uncertainty.

Third – THEY ACTUALLY MAKE FILMS FROM SCRIPTS THAT HAVEN’T DONE WELL IN CONTESTS. If a producer likes your script and wants to get it made, they’re not going to be as worried about how it placed in a contest.

Fourth (and this one really hit home for me) – SCREENWRITERS SHOULD NOT LIVE BY CONTESTS ALONE. Doing well in a contest is a potential boost to help you establish a career, but that’s it – potential. It’s only one of numerous paths.

As was pointed out to me, I may not have done well in contests, but I should also consider:

-I’m currently writing the script for a microbudget feature. The producer really likes how it’s all coming along, and has been completely ego-free since we began.

-I self-published 3 books about screenwriting this year (a great gift for screenwriters, yourself, or both. I got a kid in college, so anything helps).

-I continue to be the co-host of a podcast that’s all about writing. Fortunately, both my co-host and I know A LOT of writers, so there’s always somebody interesting to interview.

-I got to be on the other end of the microphone by being interviewed on a few screenwriting podcasts.

-I took part in a few panels about screenwriting at a writing conference, which led to being invited to give a lecture about screenwriting next month. (more on that another time)

-I still get the occasional email asking me to give script notes. It might take me a little longer to get to it than expected, but I enjoy doing it, and the writers seem to really appreciate what I have to say.

-there’s been progress, albeit the really slow kind, in making my short film. I was hoping to film it before the year was over, but looks like early next year might be more realistic. It’ll happen yet.

So my losing streak in contests may continue, I’ve got a decent number of other irons in the proverbial fire. And a few other fires, for that matter.

I may get knocked down, but I get up again (and again, and again), and they’re never gonna keep me down.

Consider me in this for the long haul.

The journey continues…

Hope you have an excellent pre-Halloween weekend. I will happily lay claim to any leftover plain M&Ms and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that manage to stay out of the grubby little hands of trick-or-treaters.

A few treats, but no tricks

Halloween candy
…and all the peanut butter cups you can eat

Halloween shorty today due to yet-again busy times around Maximum Z HQ.

Among the highlights:

-Finished the initial overhaul for the outline of the comedy spec. The story is still kind of/sort of the same, but still significantly different than what it was. There’s still some tweaking to be done, but I’m really liking how it turned out.

-Got some notes back on a few of my scripts. For the most part, they’re pretty positive with some good suggestions, but there were also a couple of comments that made me question if my writing abilities are where they need to be. Maybe to a certain extent, but as it was pointed out to me, those comments are from one person, and one person’s opinion is not the final say. That’s something I really need to keep in mind.

-More writers asking me to do notes or engage in a script swap. Some new, some returning for more. Guess my analysis skills are improving. Happy to help when I can, but don’t expect a fast turnaround.

-A slow but steady output of query letters continues, with a handful of “send it” responses. Not a bad percentage so far. Not relying on any of them, but always maintaining a positive & hopeful attitude. Send it, forget it, on to the next one.

Thus the journey to being a working writer continues…

Hand over the peanut butter cups and nobody gets hurt

Anybody else suspect how the American Dental Association figures in all of this?
Anybody else suspect how the American Dental Association figures in all of this?

Halloween Eve shorty today.

This has been a real rollercoaster of a week around Maximum Z HQ. Highs, lows, and many points in between, including:

-Notes back from BlueCat and Screencrafting Action about the western. Very positive comments from both, plus a few “needs a little work”-type items. Don’t know if I have a shot at winning either, but I’d be okay with a top 10 or along those lines. At least nobody said the script sucked.

-Been busy giving notes on friends’ scripts. So far, everybody’s liked what I’ve had to say, including a lot of agreement about what the notes say. Always nice.

-Started compiling a new list of potential query recipients to add to the master list I already have. Also got some great feedback on a revamped query letter. Trying to be more organized about it this time, including customizing as many letters as I can.

-There’s a strong sense of big changes of a positive nature in the air, so I’m going to do what I can to hold on to those and keep working on turning them into reality.

Hope you have a great weekend and get lots of kickass writing done (after whatever Halloween activities you’ll be engaging in, of course).

obligatory halloween post!

Bradbury. Halloween. 'Nuff said.

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday, not just because it’s 4 days before my birthday (which is not meant to sound like I’m trolling for presents, but if you’re feeling generous, who am I to stop you?), but because it’s so darned fun. Costumes, candy, the supernatural. What more could you ask for?

There’s a Halloween City store a few blocks from our place. We went there to get part of V’s costume (more details in a minute).

For some reason, these places only seem to have decorations of a darker nature. Nothing like greeting trick-or-treaters with your place covered in props for low-budget horror movies. Where are the happy jack o’lanterns and cartoony witches?  Do I have to find a Hallmark store for a more innocent line of decorations?  Since I have no idea if there are even any IN San Francisco, we went down the hill to Walgreens and got some glow-in-the-dark ghosts for the front window.

Getting back to V’s costume, after years of Batman and Jedi Knights, this year K suggested a French waiter.  She loved it. This stems from V constantly repeating the narrator on Spongebob (“Seex ow-ehs lay-tair…”). We got a vest, which came with two tie options. A stick-on mustache from Halloween City lasted one afternoon, and was easily replaced with mascara. Her hair slicked back with cheap product. Still working on the towel over the arm. But after all is said and done, she’s ready.

Also different this year is that K and V will be going to a friend’s house for trick-or-treating while I stay home to give out candy.  We don’t get a lot of kids, but we’re part of the neighborhood association list of designated houses, and I’ll be taking advantage of the downtime to work on either script or outline.  Still debating what movie to watch – maybe THE FRIGHTENERS. Haven’t watched that in a long time. Gotta be careful not to dip into the candy bowl too much. K bought Peanut Butter Cups – one of my few weaknesses.

What are your plans?