Determined or dumb?
Courtesy of a thread on the Triggerstreet message board, this is the story of how I got my script written and submitted for last Winter's Writer's Arc fellowship.
I'd written the first 40 or so pages in about 3-4 months (with about 2 more months of "head writing") when suddenly, I had made it into round 2 of the Writer's Arc competition. No more screwing around, I had to finish it in 10 days. This was a hard and fast deadline, with no way to extend it. Talk about pressure. Get this... to add just a smidge more stress... I had already made plans and paid for a trip to LA for the Screenwriting Expo. Plus, I had a meet-n-greet set up with a producer who might have been interested in hiring me for a script based upon an idea of his. (Didn't pan out, he wanted work for free.) So, how many hours a day could I realistically write while at the Expo? Not many. I don't have a laptop, so I borrowed my friend David's laptop (down to 8 days by the time I got it), get FD loaded (had difficulties), I finally get it set up so I can write on the plane; which I do, both ways. Meanwhile at the Expo, lugging the laptop, I go to several classes, see speakers, etc. and I skip the closing ceremonies as I was in the hallway busy hammering out pages. (One guy walked by and said "Looks like you're the only one getting any work done this weekend!") If he only knew...
When I got home, I had to juggle work and client demands (I remodel houses-- mostly for gay men who are positively neurotic about their homes), after I drive 45 minutes each way to get my dog (I'm single remember.. no one to help me with mundane things like oh, say, dinner.} All this, before I can try to finish the script.
Of course, I hit a software problem when I tried to transfer pages to my PC so I could open what I had written in LA and on the plane! Thankfully, I was able to figure it out on FD's site and didn't have to PAY for their assistance (I would have if I had too) before I could begin typing again! GAH! More time (my most precious resource) down the drain!
So, day of the deadline... MUST BE POSTMARKED TODAY! No exceptions. No postmark, I can kiss the contest, and any chances of even placing let alone winning, goodbye. I'm down by at least 20 pages. It's 6AM, I've got the end in mind but not in sight and I'm thanking whatever gods there are that Atlanta has a 24 hour post office. I also throw up a hasty "thanks" because I know how to get there and don't have to resort to Mapquest. Here's how the rest of the day went...
6:15AM, I've slugged down two Diet Cokes, chewed up a bagel and walked the dog. I sit down to write the hell outta this biotch, cause really, what choice do I have?
I don't move from the computer (except for answering Nature's call and letting Sophie out so she can answer that same call) for the next 17 hours. No shower, no lunch, no dinner, no nothing but the words in my head and the on the page. Phone's unplugged and cell phone is OFF. My friends? My clients? Can wait. This? Can't.
11:00 pm. I'm typing (FINALLY) "Fade Out" and the printer is spitting out pages 78 and beyond. No time for proofreading or anything else. I gotta get out the door! Where's my freaking shoes! Aghh, where's the keys!
11:30, I climb into the car with ONE copy of the script, on plain paper and beeline it to the 24 hour Post Office... Through Friday night midtown Atlanta partying (going the speed of "cruising") traffic. If THESE sumabitches don't get out my way, I'ma hafta kill somebody!
11:50, I pull into the Hapeville Post Office having driven down I-75 at over 80 miles per hour and (literally) RUN into the Post Office.
There's a line.
11:53, I step up to the counter, look the Postal Clerk right in his eyes and tell him "I know this is going to sound strange, but you're holding the rest of my life in your hands right now."
I proceed to explain about the contest, the deadline, I have to make another copy, etc...
He looks ME right in my eye and says:
"I'm sorry, I cain't help you. I get off in 6 minutes."
He glances right at those BIG RED numbers that announce to my sinking heart 11:54:08 PM
I beg. "Please, isn't there ANYTHING you can do?
He says: "I cain't, but those two down on the end might could, they working all night."
So, I bolt down there and repeat my pitch. Miracles do happen kids, one of the two (BLESS that woman!) says "Well, I'm not 'posed to do dis, but if'n you need me too, I can hold back one of them hand cancellers and not change the date 'til you ready."
I could have kissed that woman! But, she might not have liked it. Being straight and all.
Then she says the most amazing thing:
"But, you gonna hafta buy stamps!"
"Stamps? Lady, I'll buy ALL the stamps you got in this building if that's what it takes! Whadda I care, if it's stamps or stickers? Long as it GETS there!"
Besides, I had more pressing problems, I needed two, count'em TWO copies, properly bound with brads and with the correct covers. Did I mention it's PAST midnight? I got ONE copy and not only is there no three hole punch paper, there's no three hole punch or cover stock to be had at the Post Office. So, I belly up to the counter again, and beg the woman to wait on changing that hand canceller until I get back from Kinko's. She waivers. I give her the puppy dog eyes. She agrees. (BLESS HER!)
I scurry off into the night to the nearest (and only) Kinko's that I know of, which is (of course) 6 blocks from my home. Which, it turns out, USED TO BE open 24 hours. Some time ago, I (obviously) don't know when, Kinko's ceased running ALL of their stores on a 24/7 basis and now just runs one or two, in various locations throughout Atlanta.
Which location? Well, your guess would be as good as mine or the Security Guard's. Unless your guess is "How the hell am I supposed to know that shit!?!" Then, you'd just be repeating me. So, now that I'm back in midtown Atlanta, I decide to go home and jump online to find out where I can go get the copies made.
Did I mention it's closing in on 1:00 AM by now?
Finally, (Kinko's site suxs!) I discover that the ONLY 24 hours Kinko's that doesn't require a 45 minute drive is, in fact, not THAT far from midtown Atlanta, because it's in DOWNTOWN Atlanta. Which, at this hour of the night, is desserted except for the homeless, the winos, the possibly criminal gangsta and the occasional conventioneer, lost, drunk and broke after his trip to the local strip joints.
Sometimes, a girl has to do what a girl has to do... I headed down there to join them.
When I get out of my car (carefully parking it in a well lit place), a wino lifts his head off the pavement and softly burps at me. I politely ignore him, and his horrid manners, to go inside the desserted office building where the Kinko's is located on the second floor. After I sign into the building under the sleepy eye of the "security" guard, I proceed to the counter to get a pass key, where the skinny guy behind the counter proceeds to cross examine me about what weight of cover stock I want. Evidently, they don't keep 110 lbs stock on hand. Would 80 lbs cover stock do? DAMN, MAN, just gimme whacha got! After we get that squared away, I tell him that I need 3 hole paper. They were OUT. (Of course!) I made him drill some for me. Yes, they can do that, although they don't like too... think I cared?
THEN as I wait for the guy to ring me up so I can get the hell out of there, a VERY large (not in height) man comes in and begins to flirt. "PLEASE! MISTER! I AIN'T GOT TIME FOR THIS BULLSHIT!" I felt like shouting but didn't. I merely paid up and beat feet.
Time check? 2:25.
I finally got to the post office, and bellied up to the counter (again) in front of that lovely lovely lovely lady and hand her my crumpled package; a cardboard box with my 2 scripts, properly punched, properly covered and properly number 6 acco brass brad bound. She weighs the package, slaps a boatload of stamps on it, gets the hand canceller which (BLESS THAT WOMAN) is still marked with the correct day, and makes damn sure that the date shows, plain as day, right on the label.
I thanked her profusely for her help as I pay.
"Oh, gurl, 's least I could do for someone as determined as you. Good luck!"
(Bless that woman!)
Btw, that script got me into the finals.