What's REALLY important...

I had dinner with an actor buddy a few nights ago. He looked a bit depressed, so I asked him what was wrong. He complained about the lack of acting gigs he’s been getting (which is virtually zero at the moment). He then told me how some of his other friends were trying to make it as actors or screenwriters, and how they were finding no real success. Then he asked me, “Don’t you ever feel like you’re living a pipe dream?” Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:

ME: What exactly do you mean by “pipe dream”?
HIM: Well, what if you never become a big, successful screenwriter?
ME: Do you really think I’m doing this so I can become a “big, successful screenwriter”?
HIM: Aren’t you?
ME: Sure, I’d love to make a really good living and be a part of some great movies, but even if that doesn’t quite happen, I still consider myself successful.
HIM: How?
ME: Well, let’s look at the stuff that’s really important: I’m healthy…my daughter is healthy…I have a family that cares about me…I have fun times and lots of laughs with the greatest group of friends a guy could ask for...I’m able to travel once in a while…I have 40+ years of great memories to think back on…and I’m working on a career that still excites me. Based on all that, I’m already a success!

My friend seemed to understand what I was getting at, but I’m not sure he fully “got” it. Unfortunately, most people will never quite “get” it. Over the years, I’ve met a lot of creative types who’ve spend far too much of their life wishing and hoping they’d become rich and famous. A young guy I knew in the mid-80s got so depressed over his own perceived failure as an actor that he finally blew his brains out. C’mon, folks, if your happiness hinges on whether or not you sell a million-dollar screenplay, or whether or not you become the next Tom Cruise, you need to get you head screwed on straight. Remember, it's not the final destination that’s important, it's the trip along the way. A cliché perhaps, but so true. If you don’t get the personal stuff sorted out, chances are good you’ll still be miserable after you sell that big script or get that leading role. So get out of that crummy room you’re in and go out and enjoy the world; take a trip somewhere; enjoy your friends and family; have some fun; put a smile on your face; make wonderful memories. And puh-leeze, don’t let other people’s lack of success—or their achievement of success—deter you and bring you down. Focus on what YOU are doing; do the absolute best you can and work your butt off. Nobody—including yourself—can ask for anything more. If you truly feel you were meant to write, act, sing, dig ditches, or whatever it is you feel you were meant to do, work toward your goals and never ever give up. Never ever.

Now then, while I have your attention…

As I mentioned in a previous blog, an old buddy of mine has been posting video clips from some of the sketch comedy shows I did back in my high school days (‘77-‘81). Well, he’s recently added a few more. One of them I’m rather fond of. It’s titled “Outtakes” and it’s a rare blooper from a sketch we did in 1979 called “Complaints.” Anyway, I hope you’ll check it out. Here's the link...

Watch Clips from the Izen-Vines Vault!

Tag, I'm it! (Yawn.)

My screenwriter buddy Matt Hader (goasa.blogspot.com) tapped me on the shoulder in a game of Internet tag. Now I have to come up with five things you don’t know about me. Um, sure, I’ll play along. Here they are…

1). I have an intense aversion to needles, knives, razors, swords -- anything that can stab or cut me. Ugh.

2). Little House on the Prairie is my all-time favorite dramatic TV show. Man, I sure do miss Michael Landon.

3). I love to walk. I used to walk from Beverly Hills to Santa Monica and back again (a 15-mile round trip) just for the fun of it.

4). I’ve never taken a drug stronger than Aspirin, and the total amount of alcohol I’ve ingested in my lifetime could fill a thermos. (No, it's not some nutty religious thing. I've just never had the need or desire to take drugs or get drunk.)

5). I never use foul language in my everyday conversation. Friends are fairly shocked when they read the F-word in one of my scripts.

Just for the heck of it, here’s one more…

6). I dislike sports. I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than watch five minutes of any sporting event.

There ya go, Matt. I’d tag somebody else, but a). I don’t know anybody else, and b). I can’t let this silliness continue. I just can’t.

Quickie script update…

Last Sunday I started writing a psychological thriller. As of last night I’m on page 13 of a 28-page outline and I’ve completed 43 handwritten pages (legal-size). By the end of today, I’ll have at least five more pages written. My target for the completed script is 95 pages. Based on the knowledge that one of my handwritten pages equals approximately 7/8th of a typed script page, it looks like I’ll come up a tad bit short on that “final” page-count. But I already knew this going in. I also knew that I’d discover additional dialogue and scene embellishments as I worked my way through the script…things I never would have discovered during the outlining phase. It still always thrills me when characters come to life and fully dictate what they do or say in any given scene. They do something or say something…and that sparks an idea, making the scene more interesting, or more vibrant, or perhaps clarifies something elsewhere in the story. All I have to do is write it down!