Wake Up

Well it’s 2011 finally, and after nearly a month away from this website I’m back and glad you decided to swing by.  It wasn’t planned to be this much of a gap – I had planned a holiday slowdown, and to resume early in 2011 but circumstances both in and out of my control conspired to delay things.

First, I was really busy with work over the so-called Christmas Holiday.  I pushed through another chunk of my novel, rewrote a spec people have been clamoring for since 2009, and rewrote the pilot script for a TV series I’m co-creator of (one that should have some positive news about soon).  So I never really left the desk .

The second was the week’s long cessation of cable and internet access at my apartment.  I have to thank the roofers who’ve been working on the building since JULY for that.  Someone knocked out a cable router box on the roof which took out the service for the entire side of the building they were working on, so no internet and no TV.  It was an annoyance, but not catastrophic, given everything had entered the holiday slowdown anyway.  Had this occurred while I was on deadline, things would have been more –

Wait a second, I WAS on a deadline.  Fuck those guys for that.  I had a TV script rewrite to email on the day following the outage, which meant loading everything onto a flash drive and trekking to a WiFi hotspot with my old laptop to connect, upload and send the thing.  Not the best of situations but manageable in a city like NY.

But a funny thing happened during this outage – I realized how much work I can get done without the distractions of the World Wide Web, and over a hundred sparkling HD channels.  And once both were restored I realized that with the former, I could do without the latter.  After consulting with the wife, we cut our cable service down to basic, returned our set-top box, and in the process look to save about 600 dollars a year.  With our computer-TV hookup by HDMI, Netflix, Hulu and a host of other streaming websites at our disposal, we’re able to watch what we want, when we want it, but more than that we’re watching less.  Less “idle viewing” and more “targeted viewing”.  Movies and documentaries get pole position, TV are on an episode by episode basis.  As a result I watch less TV than I have in years, and even then it’s movies almost exclusively.  I also spend what free time I have reading books (actual paper pages) and magazines and comic books – for actual pleasure.

At the risk of sounding like some Luddite, I think what we’re finding with the rampant influence of technology on our lives is that too much connectivity can be too much, period.  How often do you walk down a street and see people focused on their crack berries or their iPhones or their iPods, failing to notice anything immediately surrounding them?  I expect it with NY-ers, but the number of tourrorists (not a typo BTW) clogging midtown who seem more focused on texting friends back home than realizing they’re standing outside the same tavern Dylan Thomas had his final drink.  I ditched bringing the iPod with me on my daily walk and found the sounds of the city returning in full force.  It was like a symphony of noise, unique to every street, neighborhood, town and city.  The bits of conversation, the screech of tires on wet pavement, the venders hustling for customers – all of it the experience you don’t get when plugged in twenty-four-seven. 

Ever see the Bruce Lee classic ‘Enter The Dragon?”  If not, you should, if you have, you should again, for it contains one of my favourite bits of writing in a movie.  Master Lee is instructing a student and asks him a question.  The student says “let me think” which earns a swat from Bruce.  “Do not think.  Feel,” he says.  “It’s like a finger pointing the way to the moon.  Concentrate on the finger and you miss all the Heavenly glory.” 

I’m on Facebook, and Twitter, and LinkedIn. I have this website obviously.  People encourage me to be as active on all of them as possible, to update them constantly, to “build name recognition” and “your brand” and enshrine your thoughts and presence in the consciousness – but, I ask, where am I to find time to do all of those things amidst all of the actual writing I need to do?  Do we all risk concentrating on our fingers?

In my business, It’s the “pitch” versus “write” syndrome.  There are writers (purportedly) who devote their days to the art of “the pitch” to producers, to studio executives, and to TV executives.  They have ideas to burn, and they know how to sell these ideas.  Mostly.  99.9% of the time they get nowhere with that pitch.  “Oh well, onto the next pitch,” they’ll say.

They won’t ever write anything, these people.  They’ll just keep spit-balling ideas until one of them catches and by then, they’ll have forgotten how to write.  I know this because for a time I was so focused on pitching projects that I wasn’t writing any of them.  That’s changed – now, If I get a great idea, I’ll forgo the unique form of torture that pitching can be, and just write the damn thing.  Only by completing it will I know if it’s worth pitching to anyone.  But either way, it’s done and I can move onto the next thing.  It’s why I’m still rewriting my novel, despite the fact I have some big-time publishers and editors pleading for me to send “even some sample chapters, and still tweaking my latest screenplay, as development execs and producers salivate for it.  Because while I could send an outline or treatment or sample chapters, it’s better for everyone involved if I just concentrate on writing, an not selling something that isn;t ready to be put on the shelf.

I realize the conflict in using a Blog to rail against blogging and the echo chamber of howler monkeys flinging shit at each other the internet can be, but maybe we all need to spend less time telling people what we’re doing, and more on doing the things worth telling people about.  We need to interact with people direct, not through a blog or through Facebook, or through some message-board rant.  If we don’t, we risk the moment we know is coming – at the moment of our deaths when our lives supposedly flash before our eyes – who wants the sum of our experience to be staring at a computer or TV or text message screen?  By doing that we all miss the Heavenly glory.