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When You’re a Writer: Live to Smell the Roses

By Tony LaScala · May 28, 2012


I’m not really too worried about plagiarism from my fellow Odd-Jobbers, so here’s what I have so far of my new screenplay…


A beaten down apartment filled with empty pizza boxes and cola cans. OLIVER (35)

…And that’s as far as I’ve gotten. Feel free to steal that doozy of a scene if it should work in your screenplays, Odd-Jobbers. Damn, that reads like a page-turner, doesn’t it?

I’ve done all of the prep work: character breakdowns, multiple drafts of the outline, etc. It’s hard for me to admit, but I may have over prepared. I didn’t think it was possible, but here I am staring at a blinking cursor completely burned out and uninspired. My usual drive to write a great scene has been replaced by a drive to veg out after work and eat dried unsulfured/unsweetened mango. (My new favorite treat. It’s like fruit jerky!)

This just isn’t me. I’m Mr. “Drive.” I believe wholeheartedly that one of the only things in life I can control is my work ethic. I have no say in who reads and who likes my scripts, but I can control the amount of work and imagination I pour into them. Of all the jobs in Hollywood, a writer above all must have the best work ethic. Unlike every other career path, a writer is completely dependent on him/herself. Directors, actors, editors, set designers, and all the rest are all dependent on the writer to work his or her butt off and create a marketable screenplay. Without a great script, there is no Hollywood (Although, with the emergence of the Uber sequel and multi-remake, it seems writers are being phased out…seriously, three Hulk remakes in one decade!?)

About a week ago, I took a short road trip with my family. We drove up to San Francisco to catch a baseball game and spend some quality time together.  It was a wonderful adventure (apart from the broken down car) and a great chance for me to connect with my stepfather and my younger twin brothers who are just about to graduate from Cal Berkeley and set off on life adventures of their own. I didn’t think of writing once on the entire trip.

At the end of the trip, my stepfather and I got on a train back home. On the six-hour trip, we sat behind a man in his mid 60’s. The former hippie droned on and on, spouting his life mantras to the poor woman next to him on the packed train. After four and a half hours, the man hadn’t taken a breath and had basically revealed two things about himself: He never tried to do anything meaningful, and the relationships with his family had suffered because of his “alternative” lifestyle.

Now, I’m all for everyone living their life as they see fit, but at the same time it was pretty sad to hear a man joyously speak about a life of unfulfilled missed opportunities. It was like he was oblivious that he was nearing his twilight years and had missed out completely on family, friends, and finding his purpose in the grand scheme of life. Hey, maybe his purpose was to hang out in parks smoking weed and chatting with the homeless, but from where I sat, he “floated” through life on an unanchored raft and ended up in a Fresno trailer all alone.

I refuse to end up like the drifter. I love writing. LOVE IT. If I could spend 16 hours a day creating amazing books and films, I probably would. I’m not a very “well rounded” person, (Seriously my skill set is writing and cooking… never ever, ever ask me to fix a car, balance a check book, or shoot some hoops), but I think I’ve found my “calling” as it were. However, the heart and the mind don’t always work in unison.

Musical Break – ♫ My Minds telling me Yes, but my body… my body’s saying NO!…♪

Everyone has to stop and smell the roses from time to time. While hippy dude overindulged in my opinion, I can’t expect to write passionately all of the time. The spark of imagination and creativity isn’t an infinite well, and it often needs to be replenished with spontaneous road trips and outings with friends. I’m not forcing writing, because I’ll just have to throw out all of the crap I wrote later.

It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the states, and I’m planning on BBQ’ing a few Tofu dogs and taking in the festive air: a walk downtown, meeting friends, watching a baseball game. Today I’m meeting up with family and heading to a Cajun Zydeco festival up North. After a few hours of merriment and dancing horribly (I’m just dreadful at dancing; I look like a tranquilized raccoon trying to climb a tree), hopefully my cup will runneth over with good times and my mind will be re-invigorated for the long writing journey ahead.

Smelling the Roses,

Tony LaScala@Coloropolis