Bill’s 90 Pages of Summer Fun

A little backstory.

I belong to a Facebook group where what we discuss is film, comics and graphic novels, film noir, more film, novels of the pulp variety, TV, and even more film.  And not to hurt the feelings of anyone in the group but, they/we/me are nerds. 

A little RECENT backstory.

On Monday of this week, one of the members of the group posted a link to a YouTube video; an interview with screenwriter and indie film producer Alok Mishra (1BR, Hanuman Da’ Damdaar, Mallika).  In the course of the 19 minute Q&A, Mishra talked about the 3 things a screenwriter must do right for their script to have any chance of getting interest from a producer.

Now I’ll be honest, after watching the video TWICE, I still only counted TWO THINGS, but I also only got my high school diploma with a truly stellar 1.88 GPA, so I very likely missed THING NUMBER THREE, just because that’s what D+ high school students do.  But what I loved most about the interview, and Alok Mishra’s answers, were just how easy he made it feel that, if you did these little-bitty fixes that everybody else does wrong, that YOU, with a fresh idea and novel sense of humor or horror, still have a puncher’s chance of getting your words read, sold, and made into a real live movie. 

And NOW, the actual story.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

Twenty-something years ago, when I felt the pull of writing again after mostly ignoring that pull since college… which, if you math together all the years, would be more years than anyone with a 1.88 high school GPA can count, but this is writing, not math… what I really, REALLY wanted to write was movies. 

Fast-forward a few more years, and the idea of writing lines for other people to speak gave way to journalism, essays, humor, and finally, God only knows why, poetry.  A couple of books and a few more years after that, and with some unexpected bonus life shit thrown in for awkward giggles, I have been writing again.  And I mean really, REALLY writing, with a plan for that writing to become my third, and possibly last, collection of poetry.  I say “last” because well, life shit and awkward giggles.  And, like with anything creative, sometimes life shit gets in the way, less important things become priorities, and it’s just hard to care about stuff other than laundry and remembering to eat regularly.  The book is coming along, and it’ll probably be in print before the end of this year.  Maybe. 

But right now, I need something more than poetry in my life.

So, while I continue to scratch out a poem here and there, this summer, I want to have some fucking fun with words.  That fun is going to be in the form of what Alok Mishra talked about.  This summer is me, writing something that no producer has read yet.  Something full of humor and horror.  Also, something that can be shot, chopped and distributed for pennies on the dollar, compared to the big budget studio version of what all the cool kids have already done until no producer wants to see another one.

Welcome to Bill’s 90 pages of summer fun.

(Note: 90 pages is the length of a script that Alok Mishra says producers like him currently want to see. And because nobody wants to see the Snyder Cut of anything, anymore)

No spoilers… yet.  But the notes are flying, and the ideas are popping, and I’m awfully glad that I still have Final Draft 10 on my ancient laptop.  So, when I finally hit SAVE for real, even if I never get a sniff of indie film fame and fortune, I’m still going to laugh all the way to Social Security and a bizarre little book of poetry, just in time for Christmas gift-giving.

But for now, it’s laundry, lunch, making myself laugh, and writing lines for other people to speak.


A Good Listener

“Quit’cher bitching, Bill.”

I’m not being harsh, or doing verbal self-harm.  My tone is passive, and comes from decades of learning how to blend love and backbone into a single expression of positive affirmation.

And just to clear up any misconceptions, no, I have never been spoken to like that.  Not by anyone.  Not by parent, not by loved one, not by coach or by clergy, not even by the occasional bully from my childhood, but only by myself.  In the way I say it, it is a gentle nudge, in love, received with the slightest turn of my head as if to acknowledge that I heard the words, and not as an assault, I would never take it said any other way, by anyone other than me.  And I absolutely would not speak in that way to anyone other than me, because there is no such thing as a subtlety, caring enough to grant the rights to that figure of speech from anyone, to anyone, but me.

I have earned the right to talk to myself that way.  I love me some me, and since, for the majority of my life, I have had no one’s encouragements, merely everyone’s passive endorsements, shared in one-size-fits-all words like, “You can do anything you set your mind to…” (which is pure bullshit), or, “I’m rooting for you…” (which is about as helpful as a few hundred people at a ballpark with 50,000 empty seats, doing the wave, while their team is losing 17-to-nothing in the bottom of the 9th), I am the one who will have to fill that void, with my own version of encouragement. 

So don’t worry.  The time of me hating on myself is long past.  I just want someone to tell me the truth in a way that is tender, yet firm.  And if someone should do that in a way I can believe, believe me, I will listen. 

I used to be a good listener. 

I’d like to think I still could be.

A Tiny Essay about Fonts and Other Things

I always write in Courier New.

I started doing this 20 years ago, when I thought there was a future with me in writing for the screen.  Two scripts, neither one great, especially not by my own standards.  Each one saved in a hardcopy printing, and shoved into a Bankers Box for generational safe-keeping.  Since then, the only things I’ve hung onto are an antiquated font, used mostly by fictional characters in Noir films of the 1940s and ‘50s; characters that usually end up dead by the end of the movie, and the other, that same belief as those dead writers of black-and-white films, that their words, one day, would matter.

But in reality, I still don’t know that my words matter. 

Because, by the standards of the world we all live in, the metric by which what matters in the creative spaces is, “Do people believe in your words enough to pay for them?” Barnes & Noble, The New York Times, Oprah, fucking Amazon, are all nothing more than a barometer by which I can gauge whether or not my creative words matter. Words, that to be impactful, must become monetized before their worth can be assessed.

And yeah, I know this all started out as a tiny essay about fonts.  But what does a tiny essay about fonts, or any other seemingly innocuous feature in our lives… noses, shoe sizes, how we comb the hair we still have left… say about what is always living right below the surface of our lives, every hour of the day?

That human worth is primarily validated transactionally

In my younger years, I wondered why it seemed so difficult to find non-transactional friendships, and why the bullshit of quid pro quo was so overwhelming for me.  For a while now, I have been hard at work trying to eliminate that system of emotional barter from my life, and at the same time, to eliminate my need of the transactional relationships offered by others, that I allowed into my life.  Are my interpersonal books balanced yet?  Fuck no.  But as the CEO of my life, am I trying?  Fuck yes.

The other day, while scrolling and swiping my way through a morning of coffee and stalling around before setting fire to another to-do list, I stumbled across THIS meme…

…which started me down a path of self-reflection, and gratitude that any friend of mine would post something so thought-provoking.  Now, a couple of days of contemplation later, there came the rambling, tiny essay thoughts.  Not complete by any means, but complete enough to share here while I continue to think my way through them.

And complete enough that, once this ramble is posted, I plan on going back to what I was doing before I went down this rabbit hole.

More on THAT, later.

FOMO on Bad Shit

“I think doom scrolling can be described as FOMO on bad shit.”

Most mornings, as I settle in to write in my daily journal, the time I spend with a pen and notebook is generally interrupted by an equivalent amount of time going back and forth from notebook to phone, and phone back to notebook. Back and forth, until I have finished my morning of thinking in ink, and absorbing things to think about since I put my phone to rest the night before.

Today, I went at it differently, and it hit me like a self-inflicted rolling pin to the middle of my forehead.

It took me 37 minutes to go from “who’s lookin’ at my last IG Post” to “how many FB friends are having birthdays” to “shit that added minutes to the doomsday clock while I was sleeping” to…

Yeah, well, when there were no more notifications to respond to, I opened my journal, and wrote,

“Did my SWIPES first. My brain is already TIRED from it. I think DOOM SCROLLING can be described as FOMO on bad shit”.

And in the remaining hour that I spent scribbling everything from last night’s dreams, to plans for a future that has never been guaranteed, there was nothing I either thought or wrote that was more succinct than that opening pair of sentences. For whatever reason, and the reasons are likely innumerable, as surely as that doom we have to scroll, there is with it, a fear that, if we don’t scroll, something is gonna go down that we fucking needed to know while we were looking the other way. Looking away, sometimes for very good reasons, even if those very good reasons feel so very wrong.

And by the way, this blog post is not about why, or how not to do it.

For me, today’s free-write is only about acknowledging that THIS IS WHAT WE DO. Today, this space is a zero condemnation space for how often we feel like shit for doing that which we don’t want to do, but feel compelled to do it anyway, beginning with my FOMO on bad shit. Will I do it again? Probably. Probably later today. Probably tomorrow. Will I try not to? Probably NOT, because I’m old, and I have finally accepted that there are things I do that I shouldn’t do that, if doing them doesn’t lead to hospitalization or death… or hurt someone I love… that I give myself permission to do it. My only requirement in doing these things is, learning, growing, and being a better late-stage human than I was, back when I would have lost my shit on myself, and on others, by trying to stop doing them. These are the rants, people.

End tiny rant.

Oh, and, because of “learning, growing, and being a better late-stage human”… I have a friend back in LA (yes, I still have friends in LA) who, overnight, sent me a meme that goes along with my blog post from Monday. It came with these words,

“That’s my advice for dealing with writer’s block: Follow the fun. If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong.”

Jordan Peele

That’s enough for now. Scroll ya later.

Officer Krupke and the Staring Contest

Feelings are weird, man.

It’s Monday. Justin Timberlake Day. May Day for those who celebrate. I’ve been sitting, intermittently, staring at a blank computer screen for parts of the previous two days… trying. Trying to write. Trying to have any string of cogent thoughts about writing. Trying to remember what it once felt like to write, to make words that made sense. To publish.

But it’s been so fucking long.

I’ve shared this thought, the collective thoughts, of what it means to believe that, in spite of the feeling in your gut and every good intention, you really can’t say with any certainty that you’ll ever write anything worth reading, ever again. Shared it with a minimal chosen few. Okay, maybe with just a chosen one. And the conclusion I arrived at is to just keep staring. At the blank computer screen. At my office TV, currently free-streaming the original West Side Story, with the volume on mute (go ahead, mock me for that, I just don’t care). And at archived blog posts of others I’ve known; writers who don’t write anymore (and the side thought that goes, “If a ‘writer’ doesn’t write anymore, are they still a ‘writer’?”), and knowing in my knower that every writer who doesn’t write anymore had their reasons for stopping, and those reasons don’t really change the fact that they are still a ‘writer’.

I am still a ‘writer’.

I had big plans for writing this year. What I was going to write, where it was going to be published, and what I was going to do with all those plans, after. All those plans evaporated over the last few months, along with what I was going to do with all those plans, after.

Evaporated as quickly as my belief about being a writer.

I know longer have plans. Maybe my plans were getting in the way of my writing. Plans can be made, anytime. Shit, plans can pretty much make themselves. What matters is not the plans I make, not the feeling in my gut, or good intentions of what to do with them. What matters is whether or not I’m gonna win a staring contest with a blank computer screen.

I just did.

Now I’m going to watch a bunch of dancing, wannabe gangbangers sing “Officer Krupke”, and then hit PUBLISH.

And let the staring contest commence again… tomorrow.

Elevator Pitch

At least that’s what the final post of November was supposed to be called.  It was going to be flash fiction about an elevator pitch to a stranger, but also an allegory of sorts, for scary things that feel like an elevator pitch; a job interview, a first date, even pitching a story to a magazine.  In the story I was going to write, the person making the pitch is ultimately grateful for the opportunity, but is let down.  Not because there wasn’t any interest, but because the one making the pitch was overwhelmed by the moment.

And yeah, it sounded great in my head, too.

But here we are, on the last night of NanoPoblano 2022, and me with a great idea, not coming to fruition.  Or to quote Mickey (Joshua Jackson, Pacey from Dawson’s Creek) in the 1997 movie Scream 2, “It’s a perfect example of life, imitating art, imitating life”. 

My life.

But what am I so afraid of?  Well, for one thing, I hate rejection.  But recently, I’ve begun to get past that by intentionally submitting poetry to contests that unequivocally rejected me.  And something like that has its own way of getting you over the stigma of rejection, if not face-to-face, at least in writing.  So that’s really what the entire post was all about, Charlie Brown.  The way I have learned to talk myself out of failing, by talking myself out of trying, and learning how to try all over again.

And this November, full of words, but no rejections, was attempted intentionally for just one purpose; to get my writing muscles strong enough to write every day, for the purpose of being word-strong enough to endure the pain of rejection.  Maybe a lot of rejection.  But if the words are strong enough, and the elevator pitch is right, maybe strong enough for success.  So even though what I had planned to close out the month with didn’t happen, something honest and real DID happen. 

This post happened.

So with that, I’m about to log off of the blog for the next couple of weeks, but I won’t log off from writing, because I’ve got a lot of writing to do.  And here, on the blog, I will keep everyone who reads, in the loop.  The successes, AND the failures.  Because failures will come, but without the failures maybe the successes won’t.

Now, tell me what your elevator pitch is.

And tonight I won’t conclude as usual with, “Talk to you tomorrow”. 

But I will say, “Talk to you soon”.

Caffeine and Sugar is not for Amateurs

I take my inspiration where I can get it.

For example, @lennnie, on all your social media.  Lennnie is an inspirational blob who makes me feel better about EVERYthing.  Go find them wherever you find your online nutritional needs.

PlutoTV, available for FREE STREAMING just because I own a VIZIO TV!  If you are like me, and have a back-list of 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s… and even 10s… movies and television that you were just too busy living life to have seen in first-run, PlutoTV is 100 percent FREE HAPPINESS! 

Homemade EGGNOG LATTEs.  Easy AND delicious, November 1st is the start of my favorite overlapping season of the year, yep… EGGNOG SEASON (October 31—January 2).  If you live in what I call “civilization”, that means you live within a half-hour drive of a Trader Joe’s, that’s the store-bought eggnog I endorse without compensation.  If you’re more of the frontier eggnog type, there are multiple MULTIPLE nog recipes at your Google fingertips.  The latte part is easy if you have the tools, and sure, an espresso maker is a nifty tool, but not required.  The trick, besides the coffee part, is a 50/50 combo of eggnog and whole milk (or extra thick milk substitute) heated to steaming, then add the coffee.  Stir, or if you’re kitchen-friendly, get out your balloon whisk and, with the handle of the whisk between your palms and the whisk part in your cup, spin it like you’re trying to spark a campfire.  That’ll froth the eggnog right up.  Also remember to drink responsibly because all that caffeine and sugar is NOT for amateurs.

That’s my November Top 3 for National Blog Writing Month and keeping my shit together as I contemplate it almost being my first snowy winter up ahead.  So now it’s your turn. 

What is getting you through the 30 days of blog month?

Talk to you tomorrow.

What is there left to Write About?

Before you think I have the answer to that question, I don’t.  Writing this the way I am now is how I’ve decided to work this problem out, the way I work things out in the opening line, every day in my morning journal.  Each day, my entry begins with a “first thought topic sentence”, totally based on whatever notion pops into my head after I open the book and secure it on the clipboard that holds it still so my pen can fly through the lines at an average of 17 minutes a page.

Or, to quote Indiana Jones, “I’m making this up as I go”.

And if there WAS a plan for this November, that WAS the plan.

So here we are, on Day 29, caught between a plan and a hard place, and me looking to write 3 posts in the next 29 hours, to make it a true 30 for 30, while I ask myself, “What is there left to write about”. 

Usually, I wait till the end of the post to ask you a question, but here’s a question you can kick around before we get to the end, “Are you as burned out right now as I am”?  Because I gotta tell you, I am pan seared and oven roasted over writing for this almost 30 days.  I guess right now I’m thinking about writing the way most people who enjoy their job feel when they know they’re about to start their vacation, and just stare blankly at the cubicle walls, quiet quitting, so the boss doesn’t notice.  Except in November, I am the boss of me, and if I don’t do this, nobody will.

Tomorrow, I already know I will bang out 2 blog posts like the boss I am, and then happily go on a well-deserved BLOGCATION for the first week in December.  But, unlike most Decembers after NanoPoblano, I won’t close the blinds and draw the blackout curtains shut, like in the old days.  I already have fresh things to share with you in the coming month.  Fun things.

At least I hope they’ll be fun things.  So for the first few days after BLOGPOCALYPSE has come to a close, remember to keep your notifications on and your curiosity up. And also, read the hashtags.  Sooooo many hashtags.  The clues will all be there.

So like I asked way early, are you feeling like a “pan seared and oven roasted” blogger right about now?  It’s share time.

And I will talk to you, twice, tomorrow.

Bill’s Hand

It’s the final Monday of National Blog Posting Month, and after dropping hints about it off and on the whole time, I thought I should show you the basis for a lot of the thoughts that go into my posts… my JOURNAL.

Except for a stretch of months in 2019, I have written almost daily in an ordinary Composition Book that can be purchased at any store… stationary, department, grocery… as long as there is that one aisle, the aisle that I became addicted to sometime in the 1980s. You know the kind, the one with all the pens, index cards, and notebooks! 

Anyway, since there are a few folks in my life who love it when I post some “Bill’s Hand” (one day, there will be a font named that) in my Instagram Stories or on Facebook, I’m using up almost an entire post just for one of them. And with almost 2,000 journal entries since the summer of ’17, I had to go with the one entry that got the most positive feedback since I began posting fragments of them on Instagram, back then.

Okay, we’re almost done. So tell me something about your “off-blog” scribbles. Do you journal? Keep “notes to self” on your phone? Maybe just Post-it notes? Everything is legit. A lot like blogging… in November.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Saying Goodbye

We have less than a week left together and already, I don’t know what I will do when you aren’t here.  I’ve gone from tolerating you, to hating, to… what?  Missing you, before the moment comes?  You know how matchbook poets glibly tell us that we ought to cherish the days we have with someone, because no one knows how many days those are? 

Yeah, well I know how many days I have left with you.

It’s too many.  It’s also not enough. 

I don’t think my heart is strong enough for this, because it breaks so easily, that I built a wall made of flesh and Teflon and razor wire, just to keep you out, and these feelings in.  And I was the idiot who also built a gate to let you back inside.  So what am I supposed to do when you use that gate to leave me, one more time?  I guess I could make a bomb with whatever resources I have left, and will run out, when December comes.  But that would ruin everything you and I have built in such a short time, that we could have never made without each other.

Fucking God, I’m gonna miss you.

And yeah, I could tell myself that you’ll be back again; that you always come back.  Except I know that even if you would return to me, I also know that I might not be here waiting.  Because the last time we were here, I wrote a story about how we are all living on borrowed time, and there are never any guarantees. Not now, not ever.  A story I couldn’t finish, then.  So for the time that we have left, I will live with you so hard.  See you, appreciate you, breathe you in.  And maybe just sit silent in your presence, waiting for the end.

Is this how we know that we love?


Have you come to the understanding that NanoPoblano 2022 is almost over? How are you dealing with it? Here’s your chance. I’d really like to know.

Talk to you tomorrow.