Thursday, March 26, 2009

Screenwriting Advice: Getting Out of the Cave

To say I spent the day in a whirlwind of despair is an understatement. Like winds whipping through the canyons, my personal demons swirled around me. They laughed, their cackles blending with the yips of the coyotes.

Sometimes a warrior must fight. Sometimes a warrior must retreat to his cave.

Today was my cave day. Outside the bright California sun blazed. The desert sweltered. The Salton Sea, relentless in its self-destruction, shriveled in the heat.

I closed my blinds. Shutting out the landscape of poisoned fish and date trees. Wanting only to wallow in my sorrow.

The afternoon was a blur of rum and The History Channel. (Such treacle!) At about four I turned on the Riverside Community College radio station, ready to revel in their weekly prog rock show. Unfortunately the students seem to have come late to the concept of irony, and were amusing themselves by playing 70s AM Gold. "Wildfire" gave way to "Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain." I was about to tear apart the radio with my bare hands when the truth seared through me. No more licking my wounds. If I couldn't face the computer, I had to connect with my creativity in other ways.

In short, I had to bake.

Every writer, every artist, needs a way to connect with the Muse. A way to let the unconscious run free. Proust gardened. Dickens walked. I bake.

What could be more compelling than the mystery of fermentation? Of dough rising, changing flour and water into bread, that most meaningful of foods. The alchemists of old could not have asked for more! The hypnotic process of kneading -- of slapping the dough against the board, digging into its soft flesh with my fingers, of probing its secret recesses -- ah, the freedom it could give me! The Muse would return, her sweet breath mixing with the scent of baking bread. I ran to the kitchen, ready to pummel dough as if it were my ex-agent's face. Perhaps I'd even bring him a loaf -- although the drive down to West Covina would be murder by the time I was done. (See, oh demon? The Beverly Hills post office box fools no one!)

It was then that I looked at my hands. Still bloody and bandaged from the trunk incident. As much as I wanted to make that bread -- nay, as much as I NEEDED it -- it was out of the question.

But there was another option. A recipe that reinvented an old standard, that blended disparate worlds. Just like I am doing with my script. I speak, of course, of cake balls. Bite-sized bits of cake and frosting enrobed in a chocolate shell. Pastry and truffle in one! For isn't my script, my passion, about disparate worlds mixing? Divinity and human folly. Man and beast sharing the same body. Yes!

A frenzy of baking followed. Of making cake, of rolling it in candy and nuts. Of embracing the ritual and the ecstasy of creation.

It was then that I emerged from my cave.

I thrust open the blinds. Knowing that life is good. The settlement from the fisheries department will last until I finish my script. The Generac 7000 will keep me secure. Soulless hacks will fight for the chance to write Leprechaun vs. Anaconda, but I will stay true to my vision.

I love you all. May you find your own ways out of the darkness.


Blogger Templates by