Why A Goat?

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Thanking My Lucky Stars, Part One

My amazing good luck is that I have the support of my family in my quest to become a paid writer. In the last two years I have become part of a community of writers. We all support and encourage each other, and in many ways only the help of another writer is what gets us all through our occasional periods of self-doubt. But I am equally blessed to have a husband who rearranges his own life to accommodate my writing.

Some of my fellow writers live alone, or with their pets, which is not really alone, but let us say without human companionship at home. Some of them like it this way. Some of them have family obligations. They have children who need their attention or spouses who don't understand why they must do what they do. They love their families, but these cherished people are an obstacle to their writing.

I debated a long time about writing this post, because it sounds too much like bragging. But it's not. Every day I run into my own obstacles, which get me down and seem hard to overcome. Then I remind myself that I have a wonderful man who notices when I don't write and asks me what's wrong. He wants to know what he can do to help me get back to my latest project. Or else he simply tells me, "Write, you lazy bitch."

How can you not love a man who allows you to dress him up as Raggedy Ann for Halloween, which is his favorite night of the year, when he'd rather go as a blood-soaked zombie?

He is my number one fan and I don't know what I'd do without him.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I just finished a low-budget horror for one of the TriggerStreet film-makers. I wrote a crime-thriller for this same film-maker earlier this year and I was in the middle of a re-write when he asked me to drop it and switch to this low-budget horror.

We've developed an interesting relationship and one that I think will be profitable to both of us. He wants to make movies and I want to write. So we work together.

Most of the film-makers I know who are working toward their career in film-making write their own scripts. But if you look up any ten movies on IMDB, most of them are written by one or two people and directed by somebody different. I just checked out what's currently playing, but you can pick your own ten movies.

When you look up the credits for each director, they all have writing credit on their movies, but they aren't listed as the primary writer. So a quick scan of any ten movies (or what's playing now) shows us that directors and their writers work together as a team.

That's what's been happening with me and this director. It was his concept, and I turned it into a story. He has a credit on the screenplay because most of what's happening in the story is based on something he wanted. But I was the one to guide the course of the story, provide advice on certain elements that wouldn't work, and come up with the dialogue. And I typed it all into Final Draft. Never underestimate the value of somebody who can type quickly and with few mistakes.

He wants to finance this himself, so many of his notes are, "I can't afford this. Make it cheaper." Now there's a creative challenge. I've been having fun with limited sets and props that are easy (and cheap!) to procure.

I'm very excited about this project, so I'll probably have a few updates on it in the future. Wish us luck!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Happy Chanukah everybody. It started last night at sunset.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

This week the Unknown Screenwriter directed us to www.LetsSayThanks.com and asked us to send a card to our troops overseas.

My son's best friend is about to go over there, and I worry about him.

This is the card I sent from the site. It's free and easy. It doesn't come with a free turkey, but you can't have everything.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Why "Why A Goat?"

This is Lisa. She's my best friend and the first great love of my life. I've been lucky enough to have two and Lisa was my first. We were going to spend our lives together. I was going to write novels and she was going to write music. She was my Cinnamon Girl and I was her Hurricane.

Isn't she beautiful?

But Lisa is an addict. She's recovering now, which means she no longer uses or abuses any substance, but during our great love affair she was just starting her own great love affair with substances. At that time it was alcohol. Later on she moved on to cocaine, crack, and finally heroine. She's done them all, baby, and man, does she have some stories to tell about her journey to sobriety.

But those are her stories and one day she wants to write them down herself. She's given me permission to tell one or two of the ones in which I was involved, but the majority of them are hers to tell.

When Lisa was twenty-four she disappeared. Her mother contacted me for the first time in six years to ask if I knew where she was, but I knew less about what Lisa was doing than her parents did. The last time I had seen her was right before my son was born and she got into a drunken altercation with a group of Mexicans. I had to get my husband to bail her out of that one. Actually I think I saw her a few times after Roland was born, but that was the last memorable occasion on which I had seen her.

Now she was gone without a trace, literally. I was worried and I called a few friends to see if I could track her down, but I didn't spend a lot of time on it. There's a fatalistic attitude you have to take when you're involved with somebody who's so single-mindedly dedicated to self-destruction. It's psychological self-protection.

Nearly a year later, Lisa turned up. She had been on some kind of road trip from hell, or maybe to hell and back. We sometimes joke around that we've been to hell and back together, but really she went without me. It was a classic road trip, straight out of the pages of Homer's Odyssey, or perhaps Dante's Inferno. One of these days I'm going to write a screenplay based on it. It'll be a cross between Oh Brother Where Art Thou and Kalifornia, with maybe a little Natural Born Killers thrown in for giggles and grins.

Lisa had many insane adventures on her road trip to hell and back: some light and some dark. At one point she was asked to drive from where she was to pick up some women who needed a ride. When she arrived, one of the women had a goat that she wanted to bring with her. The large group of women could barely fit themselves into Lisa's little car, let alone with this goat. So they crammed in, dragged the goat in after them, and it kind of capered all over them during the ride. It also shit little goat turd-balls in Lisa's back seat.

Why a goat? Lisa had an answer for many of the things that happened to her on her road trip, but she didn't have an answer for that. Were they going to eat it? Was it a pet? Were they transporting it to a goat farm? She didn't know because she had never asked.

It's become a pet phrase of ours over the years. We never have been able to figure out why there was a goat in Lisa's car that day, even though it was pretty obvious why it shit little goat turd-balls in her back seat. Every so often I'll ask her, "Lisa, why a goat?" And she will answer, "I still don't know."

Writers like to explain things. We like to find the story behind the scene. A man gets on a bus wearing a dress, but is making no attempt to look like a woman. He just looks like a man in a dress, hairy legs and all. Why? What happened before he got on the bus that made him decide to put the dress on? Is it a fraternity prank? Did he wake up at his girlfriend's house with nothing to wear and had no choice but to borrow her dress? There's a story that preceded this one scene of a man in a bus wearing a dress (this really happened to me too, by the way) that explains why he's there now…wearing his dress.

So let that be a lesson to you. If you're on a road trip to hell and back, you might not ever find a logical explanation for each and every little thing that crosses your path. It's all well and good to wrap everything up in a neat little package and explain all the details. Audiences have come to expect that, so throwing in a man in a dress or a goat in a car might just make them angry at you. But it might not. And it might be a good idea to throw an unexplained goat into your story every now and then, just to keep your readers on their toes.

Why a goat?

Who knows.

By the way, please join me in wishing Lisa a very happy birthday this Wednesday, Dec 6.