All right – I did not really cry. But I damn near did. Yesterday I had to go into my barn and search for a copy of of the manuscript for River Tales, a series of stories I wrote back in the 1990s which became a series of recordings for public radio stations, and after that CDs. My new agent is working on getting me a book deal, which would be sweet. I wrote the stories for my kids when they were growing up. As CDs they got rave reviews from all sorts of publications. There was a feature about them in Newsweek. And the American Library Association named me one of the top ten recording artists for children at one point.
Obviously, I wasn’t near tears over that.
Nope. I found what I was looking for without a lot of hassle. But in the process, I opened some boxes. There I found so many scripts it was dizzying – screenplays that I wrote that were seen by one producer and by the time I got a reply, I was onto something else and couldn’t be bothered; plays that I wrote but never submitted anywhere or only to one theater.
There’s a TV sitcom series that Bertrand Castelli and I wrote together that would still be viable but for the same problem we ran into when we wrote it – Hollywood ageism (and B.C. is dead and I’m sure not any younger).
There’s a screenplay about two brothers beset by mobsters on the
(contemporary) that I totally forgot I’d ever written. Who knows if it’s any good? Erie Barge Canal
I’m talking about dozens of scripts just sitting there because I used to get so frustrated with the submission process and the idiot in Hollywood who was my agent couldn’t be bothered with me most of the time, unless he was visiting Manhattan and bugging me to score him some coke ( a drug I never really understood the allure of – give me opiates over that, and weed over everything else -- though all I can afford these days is the occasional glass of wine).
Then there was a box of poems, songs, and stories; and another box of proposals and like that. I’m talking about bank boxes full of this stuff. Yards of files. Dozens of scripts. An operetta complete with score that was never submitted anywhere. I must be insane.
Then there were the boxes of stuff I did get produced and published. Magazine articles, short stories, scripts, scripts I doctored back in the 1980s
Here’s the wacky thing – about fifteen years ago, when my parents sold their house, I had a similar number of boxes of short stories and poems and like that – all rejected – in the folks’ attic. I dumped them all into a dumpster back then. I was so pissed off at being broke I didn’t want some academic in the future finding a trove of my writing and making a career out of parsing my unpublished works. That’s how I thought back then. (I kept all the scripts, though; seems I can don’t have it in me to throw out a script.—yet.) Nowadays I just shake my head in wonder at my persistence.
I just look at the new accumulation and want to cry but don’t. Someday I’ll get an assistant and try and make sense of it all. Or not.
I can only hope this new agent does some serious selling for me. The weird thing is that I still can’t stop writing. It’s like breathing for me. I get up and do it again. Sometimes I wish I’d never been published or produced. I would have quit by now. Sometimes, it takes all my will power to deny myself the needle and spoon.