Monday, January 20, 2014

Important Career Advice From Beverly Hills Writers


(from The Wife, The Writer, The Guru...)


Sitting at the counter at the Whole Foods market I see outside a man jumping up and down, shouting and waving his arms. A few minutes later something warns me not to turn from my computer screen as I hear:

- You're that writer guy everyone talks about.
- I am?
- You over-publish. You overdramatize. My number is 2332253538. 2332253538. 2332253538.

When I do look up I see it's the man from out the window. He's walking away. He sits down at the counter too, but the rest of his conversation is with himself. He takes pen and paper and gets to work.


Starbucks Coffee, South Beverly Drive. Another writer. He says he began in advertising, making TV commercials for Sony. He asks me about the book I'm reading. A detective story. I ask him what kind of book he reads. He says:

- I'm a writer but I don't read.
- You write screenplays, make up stories.
- Yes.
- You like stories, don't you? Then why don't you read?
- I don't have to. I have fantasy. I make up stories. Movies are all about stories. I see a lot of movies. Used to be studios made thousands. Now, only a couple hundred a year.
- And you see them all.
- Nearly.
- Aren't they too uniform for a lover of stories?
- No. I don't think things have changed much in terms of quality. Used to be the studios made a couple hundred decent movies, the rest terrible. Now the rest is made by independents.
- Are they terrible too?
- Yes. Most of them personal, self absorbed. But you can find some good movies.
- Is there a difference between the two kinds of terrible, of the thousand movies a year from the studios in times gone by and the thousands of independent producers now?
- No. Why should there be?
- I was wondering if there's a connection here with writers not reading. A reader is a sort of collector of stories. always looking for something better, different, new. The discipline, as it were, of making movies for profit was a motive to look for new stories. Maybe that is lacking now.
- Independents are always looking for stories. They want to make money.
- But they don't have a collection. Each independent starts from the beginning.
- Listen, I don't have time for this. What's your point?
- I don't know. Maybe only that storytelling needs a history if it is to be more than efficient holding to formulas.
- Movies are better now than ever. I can't remember a year as good as this one. Nice talking to you.