Whenever I hear someone say that patience is a virtue, I think, no, it isn't! It's a friggin' survival trait!
I'm so tired of waiting for things. I'm especially tired of waiting for other people to make decisions that will affect my life and/or livelihood.
As a writer, I spend a lot of time querying editors, agents, publishers, production companies and producers about my work. Contrary to what you might think, the more time passes without a response, the less chance that they're interested in the work. The times I've gotten the rare, 'yes, we'd love to see your completed script/book/story' have usually been within two weeks of the submission date. After that...well, it's only a matter of time (usually a LONG time) that the ubiquitous SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) makes its way home, a rejection letter tucked inside. A form letter more often as not.
Email queries are even more frustrating. You'd think that the ease and cost-effectiveness of email would make people more likely to reply on a timely basis. Not the case. I've sent many email queries. If they're interested, I hear back within a day or two. If not...nothing. I have gotten exactly one email rejection, six months after I sent the original query. I suppose I could do a spin doctor job on this by saying that the positive responses (approx. 6) outnumber the negative (1) , but that would involve ignoring the other 50 queries that received no reply.
I know, I know... Glass half full. Glass half full. I pretty much go through life with a glass half full of something (usually red wine), but it does wear me down.
Then there are the positive responses with caveats: We really like your writing style, but feel that there's (??) wrong with your work. We would be happy to look at it again if you're willing to do a rewrite.
Sure, why not? I've got nothing better to do. So you do the rewrites and resubmit the material. Worked for me with one of my short stories, You'll Never Be Lunch In This Town Again. Even got paid for it. The book, Mondo Zombie
, however, has been in publishing limbo for the last six years. It's been with three or four different publishers, settled with Cemetery Dance Publications, and has been available for advance order since 2002. Those folks that ordered it back then? Talk about patience...
Done the same thing with scripts. Rewrite after rewrite, all on spec (which, to those of you unfamiliar with the lingo, means no money up front), sometimes involving an option (which , to those of you blah blah blah, means that you give someone the right to shop your script and find financing within a set amount of time). The option, while it can involve money up front, usually doesn't when you're an unknown quantity. I've waited over six years for options to pay off.
Let me rephrase that. I'm still waiting. And I'm extremely realistic about the time element involved with getting a project greenlit in Hollywood. On the other hand, I'm continually amazed by the movies that are not only greenlit, but actually produced. 'Appalled' would also be a good word to describe my reaction, especially when I watch Sci Fi Channel original movies such as Chupacabra, or Python versus Boa (or Boa versus Python), the shark movies (Megaladon comes to mind)...oh, the list goes on. Marked by bad special FX, pedestrian to horrible scripts, and the presence of one or more of these actors (Anthony Sabata Jr., Fernando Lamas, Dean Cain, John Rhys Davies) playing cardboard heroes, and with interchangeable silicon Barbie dolls as leading ladies, these truly lousy movies are seemingly the best that low-budget filmmakers can do. Hah. Watch the original Alligator, directed by John Sayles. Funny, edgy, suspenseful, decent characters, and all on a shoe-string budget. It can be done.
But I digress.
I've had just enough success as a writer to keep me going. I've had screenplays produced, albeit low budget (budgets so low that you have to scrape 'em off the floor), short stories and essays published, and one of my screenplays, co-written with T. Chris Martindale
, is being optioned for the second time. I even have a meeting on the Universal lot next week. Lunch at the studio commissary and everything. So I'm talking just enough encouragement to make me think there's the possibility of validation in the form of money at some point in my future. So I'll keep writing and querying and giving out those free options in the hopes that that mythical day may come.