Monday, July 10, 2006

ThrillerFest, Day 2 (Morning)

Michael's phone goes off at 4:45 am. His ring tones are like a samba on crack. Amusing - during the day. He locates and punches off the phone after probably 16 bars, at which point I know I will never get back to sleep.

I take a Melatonin anyway.

Mistake.

Now I am both wide awake and comatose.

I sleepwalk out to the jacuzzi, hoping it will make me feel better in some way. The desert air in the deco courtyard is peaceful and lulling. I am nodding off in the jacuzzi when suddenly 20 doors open simultaneously on three different balconies and two dozen sorority girls in full sorority dress and hair to match step out in perfect sync. A good half of them then flip open cell phones. I feel I have awakened in the Planet Camazotz scene of A WRINKLE IN TIME.

I sleepwalk, dripping, back to the room to shower. Michael is a perfect angel - vast quantities of ice and Diet Coke have materialized in the room. I stick my head in the ice bucket. It helps a bit.

Our New Authors Tell All panel is at 10 am. I have no real nervousness about it - panels I can do in my sleep (and clearly would be this morning). It's the rehearsals starting at one that have me worried - as I am useless from 3 pm to 6 even on a good day.

The panel is lively, well-attended, and I hope informative, thanks to the expert moderation of the lovely Christine Goff and the charisma of my fellow panelists, Rob Gregory Browne, Brett Battles, Phil Hawley, and Marcus Sakey (about whom I have already raved two posts below...) There's something very familial about being at the exact launching point in our careers and I feel I am around a dinner table with a set of (very attractive) brothers. I do feel a certain weird helpless uselessness, because although I'm sure we all have splendid careers ahead of is, the fact is none of us really KNOW how it's going to go for us and our books. Rob and I for sure know the vagaries of a writing career already.

Also, it's odd to be doing a panel that's all about the money when the real miracle of book authorship is just that - AUTHORSHIP. Copyright. No rewriters, no credit wars. The book is all you, and all yours. But that, as they say, is a whole nother story.

Can I just say it is totally insane to me that writing a book is so much harder than writing a screenplay and you are paid so much less? If I were not so sleepy I might have gotten really annoyingly revolutionary about it all. I don't know how anyone can make a living as a novelist, at least at first. You need a well-paid partner, a trust fund, or a miracle. Breaking into screenwriting was so much more sane. But then again when I broke in there I was insane already, so what am I really talking about? I was too young to know the odds - I simply didn't think that way, and could cheerfully live on oatmeal and Top Ramen for months at a time.

But you know what it is? If you're a writer, you're just going to do it - whether it's good for you or your loved ones or your health or your eternal soul. I am quite aware that at this point I should give up writing altogether (the epitome of desire and attachment) and start focusing on eternity, but there is not a chance in hell of that happening. I am doomed to several more turns on this Wheel of Karma because I just can't stop myself.

I see it. I know it. And I go right on. Doomed.

Sigh.

The most illuminating moment of the panel for me personally is when an audience member, savvy up-and-coming writer Boyd Morrison, asks us how it felt the moment we found out we sold (that is, LICENSED!) our books, and I realize for myself how very undramatic, or unecstatic, that moment was - although I did become weightless for several weeks, funny about that! It was more a profound and deeply quiet relief that I hadn't been WRONG about taking this huge risk in changing horses midstream.

I guess it was sort of the same for me when I sold my first screenplay - I literally cried through the entirety of a week-long bidding war and when it was done I was just quietly disbelieving - and weightless.

That's what the next step toward heaven is for me, I think. Weightlessness.

Can you write without attachment and desire and obsession? I wonder.

Contemplative moment only lasts a moment as there is attachment, desire and obsession going on all around me and I don't want to miss any of it.

2 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful post, Alexandra. I'm sorry I didn't meet you at Thrillerfest, but hope to some day soon.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Well, thanks, Elizabeth! I'm sorry I didn't get to meet you, either - we were in rehearsal so much of the time that I missed out on a lot (but I'm not complaining, either!)

THE BLACK PIT sounds great. I think there's something lovely and right about daughters and granddaughters telling our fathers' stories.

Alex