The Return of The Muse, The End of 2011 and Dee Rees’ “Pariah”

I’m laying across my bed considering 2011.

It’s been a really tough year.

Can’t go into great detail at this time, but I have gracefully accepted that life is not a straight line.

But through the difficult periods I’ve realized a pattern—the things that have been there (beyond friends) to support me through the rough patches; literature, art, film, etc are still there. Still helping my mind and spirit accept that life although beautiful can be difficult.

At the urging of the one and only Black Snob, Danielle Belton, I have returned to the site and hope not to leave again.

I mentioned film a moment ago and I can go no further without mentioning the film “Pariah” written and directed by Dee Rees. It is an amazing film. When I first saw Spike Lee’s “She’s gotta have it”, it changed me. I know these people. My Muse, that I ignored or suppressed, had sent stories like that to me over and over and I dismissed her. That film gave me permissions to try to breathe life into my own stories. “Pariah” was a similar experience, only this time it was more evolved. Every box was checked in the film; Directing, writing, acting—all were on point. The characters weren’t characters; they were people. Just like in any other film. I cared about them. There wasn’t any celebration of black pain, or brown colored caricatures bounding about spouting a banal message any grade schooler could grasp—only people wrestling with real stuff. It reminded me of the days when I dreamt of becoming a writer, sitting in theatres losing myself in stories. It made life feel special—bigger, hopeful. I felt that was in “Pariah”. Thank you Dee Rees. You came along right when I needed you.

I will do my best to keep up with entries. Life got into the way for a moment. Fortunately my Muse forgave me. I hope that you will as well.

The Realities of Being A Writer

When it comes to who and what inspires me, there are always the ‘stand-by’s in my life, people like Stephen King, who I look at as being a great story teller, and able to be prolific and disciplined. Because as a writer, that’s the most difficult thing — you want to procrastinate, because if you sit back and think about all of the ideas you have that you think are genius, you know they probably won’t work. It’s difficult to sit in a room and devote hundreds of hours over a few months to come up with a great script that you know won’t sell. That’s hard for most people, because the best things you write come from you, from your soul. But because this is an occupation of people who dream, I’m always inspired by great work. I’m always seeking out film and other writers and directors who I respect their body of work. So I’m always seeking to be amongst them and see how they deal with the same issues — procrastination, insecurity, being cynical. It’s a tough business. I don’t know any writer worth his best salt who feels like he’s made it, even the best. You are always trying to top yourself, and do better. That’s the reality of being a writer today.

The Contracting TV Business

Last week I mentioned the TV business is contracting so much so that it’s becoming more difficult to be successful in it. I know that this is supposed to be a motivational website, but there are subtle truths to the business. You have to continuously get better. The competition is fierce. There are not as many opportunities, because of reality television, because of the nature of the corporatizing of what television and film are now. It’s difficult to just walk into a studio or network and pitch something and they buy it. Now it’s about what producers are on your team, who else believes in your project. It’s no longer just you walking in and selling it. It’s definitely changing the game, and to compete as I’ve said you have to continuously get better. Do what you can to constantly improve, sharpen, and meet people.

The Process of A Pilot

People ask me about the process of writing pilots. Each pilot is different. It’s not so much a thing of “green lighting” a pilot so to speak. You have some cases where a company, like the puppet company, hire me to write the pilot, which they then finance the presentation for it. Then there are other pilots where you’ll write a synopsis for the network, like the Jordan Sparks pilot. That’s where I’m writing a synopsis of the world that I want to create. I work with a series of producers for it, and we go through revisions from there. Every case is different. What I’m learning today is that my industry is contracting so much that its making it hard to do business, and that means you’ve got to continue to get better. The competition is fierce, there aren’t as many opportunities. I’ll share more on this later.

What I’ve Been Working On Lately

I’ve been meaning to update everybody on what I’ve been working on. I’ve been working on pilots. I’m working on a pilot for Jordan Sparks, about a young singer going to a performing arts school, trying to make it in New York City. I’ve been working on another about a family of puppets — if you remember the Lebron James and Kobe Bryant shoe campaign, it’s the same company that designed those puppets. I’m working with them to put together a sitcom, so I’m writing the pilot for that. I’m also up for a bunch of shows right now. I probably shouldn’t say anything.  I don’t want to jinx it — then its depressing when somebody walks up on the street and says, “Hey, weren’t you up for that?” and I have to say no, that I didn’t get the job. LOL. That’s no fun. I’ll share updates when I can.