Saturday, December 06, 2008

I'm transferring to the upgraded template in Blogger, so be patient. Apparently it does a lot more cool stuff. We'll see. I'll have to play with the HTML to tweak it and add a picture. Hmmm, what to choose...

I went to the coffee shop tonight before meeting a couple friends to go to the street fair in our neighborhood. I'd forgotten about it, but she remembered and I told her to pick me up, meaning by foot, at the coffee shop.

The place was bursting with activity. There was a musician playing guitar and singing, adding a warm touch to the warmly lit place, cocooned in the dark of the evening. I thought I might try to write a little but any chances of that were spoiled by being spotted at my table by a couple of the local men. I saw the first one milling around and kept my head down, but could see him see me and make a bee-line toward my table. He pulled up a chair and began talking. The conversation started about him being tired of living in desperation, a common subject that this particular person brings up when he's sat himself at my table before. Because I was expecting company, I was more open to conversation this time, knowing it would end shortly. The last time this man sat himself down, he spoke of the creative differences he was having with a partner on his screenplay about the Chupacabra. I listened patiently that time as well, looking at this man who is probably in his mid to late fifties, long white hair pulled back in a pony tail and an earring dangling from his ear, talking to me angrily about how he thought the goat sucker should be portrayed.

It wasn't long before the second one arrived, thin, sallow, around the same age, having just dyed his hair to an flat, unnatural looking brown. I'd spoken to him before as well, when he's sat himself down at my table. He too is a frustrated screenwriter, and very negative. He talks about having to have connections in the business to get anywhere and of his trials and failures with agents, managers and executives. He's repeated a few of his tales to me, and while sure...having connections in Hollywood is good, it's not everything. Really, it isn't. Countless times, people have waded through the obstacles and sold that script. I know personally, two writers who sent their manuscripts in cold to publishing houses, and are now published authors. Successful, award winning and also now working in Hollywood as screen writers. They were the farthest from having Hollywood connections of any two people I knew. They just believed in themselves, persevered and always remembered that it was about the story, not the game of being published. And yes, I know there are way more people that went this route and didn't succeed, but it's about not letting it consume you and remembering you write because the story inside you demands to be told.

We met eyes and I waved, an acknowledgment, not at invitation, and he pulled up a chair at the table. Now, I was boxed in by two men who weren't talking to me, but at me...competing for me to listen to their stories and getting frustrated with each other. Neither of these men have asked me much about myself and monopolize the conversation with their tales of woe about being rejected writers or just about anything. The sallow man asked me to meet him at the coffee shop after one such session and I politely refused. I have no idea if that's why he recently dyed his hair, or not.

One of the friends showed up and had seen the two men at my table. He ordered his coffee and in that time the pony-tailed man had gotten frustrated with the other droning voice and had left. I waved the friend over. The sallow man had just gotten finished telling me a story of an agent that he had submitted his script to, not even remembering his name when I introduced them. Except for one thing...I'd forgotten his name, too. There was no way around it. I had to ask. Now, usually when someone's friend arrives, especially a much younger male...that's your cue to get up and leave. This person didn't. He quizzed him on what he did for a living, and then as if my friend had not even sat down at the table, continued his talking about himself and his "eight great disappointments in his life." I was doing all I could to send the appropriate signals, but short of telling him to sod off, he wasn't going to get it. When the female friend arrived, he asked her the same and then began complaining to her. I felt so bad. I had no idea what to do. Finally, we all said we were leaving. I apologized to her, saying I'd indeed noticed she was trapped in the conversation but had no idea how to rescue her. He'd just met this person and was complaining to her about his struggles.

I'm a generally friendly person and sympathize with people who are just seeking company. Or, an ear to not feel so alone for a few minutes out of the day. However, it's frustrating when I just want to get some work done. I'm great at being aloof when I need to, or avoiding eye contact all together, but sometimes people just don't get it, or their need to talk outweighs their manners. I like coffee shops and the acquaintances you meet there. These two men aren't in that category. They are also a part of the group of frustrated writers, not to mention people, who congregate there and hang out for hours, talking to each other.

I write too, but I'm not that kind of writer. I write because I want to see where the story goes. If that ends up making me a living, great. If not, that's fine too. I've told the story and gotten it out of my head onto paper. I can't help thinking that these people have simply lost focus of why they write in the first place. Or, they are focusing too much on the business of writing. Certainly, the sallow man is a very negative person and that shows. It also affects your success with getting people to look at your work. They have to want to enter in a business relationship with you, and if all they want to do is get away from you, that's not going to happen.

We had a small earthquake here today. I was sitting at my desk when I felt a gentle roll underneath my chair. I looked down and Oliver had frozen in place and crouched. I could also see the arrangements in the vases on the floor swaying back and forth. It was a 5.5 centered outside of Barstow, which is why we felt it lighter here. Had I been walking I might not have felt it at all.

Bed awaits.

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