Sunday, August 23, 2009

Have You Been Writing?

Recently, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a few weeks. One of the first things he asked me was, “So, have you been writing?”

“Yeah. I’m finishing a screenplay and getting ready to start a new one…”

As I spoke, I could see his eyes glazing over. Apparently, this question was along the lines of, “Hi! How are you?” and I hadn't picked up on the subtlety. A detailed medical history was not required.

If you’re a writer, you’ll get this question on a regular basis. People seem to think they need to check up on you.

You still writing?

Yup. Still writing.

As if it’s a game of Gotcha!

Sometimes they’ll even accuse you of not writing. The other day, I posted a Status Update on my Facebook page quoting Gore Vidal. A friend I haven’t seen in a few years commented, “Stop talking about other writers and write.”

What? I was just taking a break from typing in the new stuff for three solid hours. I’m writing! For godsakes! Stop accusing me of not writing!

Even my ex-boyfriend called after the break-up to inquire how I was doing by asking the question, “So, how’s the writing going?”

“It’s fine. The writing’s fine.”

I suppose I wouldn’t mind hearing the question on an almost daily basis, if there were actually some follow-up. Maybe if someone offered to actually READ what I’ve been writing. But not even fellow writers are interested in reading what you’re writing. Why? They’re too busy writing and fending off the eternal questions about how THEIR writing is coming along.

Last week, I ran into a writer friend of mine. I just happened to have a copy of the first 30 pages of my screenplay in my bag. We chatted a bit and then I asked, “Hey---would you do me a favor and take a look at this?”

“Oh sure. Absolutely. When are you here next? Tomorrow. Great! I’ll drop it by tomorrow. No problem.”

Five minutes after I handed him the script, I realized I would never see it again. The next day, my suspicions were confirmed. It’s been over a week now and I have YET to hear back.

But have no fear that the next time I run into him, undoubtedly the first question out of his mouth will be, “So, how’s the writing going?”

Of course, if people really want to know how the writing’s going, they could come out and see your work. But sometimes it’s difficult to get even your best friends to show up. I swear, I could do a striptease while singing “Sweet Adeline” and no one would show up.

A few years ago, my friend Nina and I did a two-woman show. One Night Only! Hope to see you there! We sent out emails and made up little postcards and passed them out to our friends.

It was part of a showcase, and it was a packed house.

A packed house full of strangers. Sadly, we had no peeps.

After the show, as we were hauling our props and costumes outside, Nina looked across the street at another theatre letting out.

“Is that Bob?”

Our OWN DIRECTOR was across the street at another theatre watching another show!

I take it as no judgment on my writing skills. I know tons of talented people and I admit to being as guilty as the next person of not attending enough of my friend’s shows. And in NYC, the entertainment options are far too many. Kind of hard to get your friends to come to your play in Brooklyn when they’ve got tickets to see Jane Fonda on Broadway.

But the question remains---why do people always ask if I’m writing? Do people literally need to see me with pen and paper in hand to be reassured that I’m still writing? The other day, I was sitting at a table doubled up over a notepad and someone actually came up to me and said, “Are you writing?”

No. I’m dancing a minuet, jackass.

Today I received a comment on this blog wondering where I’d been. Wanting me to “come back”.

Okay, I’ll admit that I haven’t posted since my 30 Day blogging marathon. And I’m grateful for the thought. But I blogged for THIRTY DAYS! Thirty days straight of trying to write a clever, yet thoughtful essay EVERY DAY!

That’s a lot of work. If you don’t think it is, just try it sometime.

It’s not like I went anywhere. I was just busy working on other things. Real stuff. After all, this is just A BLOG.

I’ve also received a few emails from friends recently, wondering what I’ve been up to. “Haven’t seen any new blogs lately. Is everything okay? Are you writing?”

The correlation seems to be that if I’m not writing, everything is not “okay”.

And really, that’s all anyone wants to know about me or anyone.

How’s everything?

Everything’s okay.

And then you can get down to planning to see a movie or hitting the newest tapas bar downtown. Maybe even seeing a friend’s show in Queens?


Who goes to a show in Queens?

All borough snobbery aside, there seems to be this misconception that writers can’t write when things are not going so well.

This is far from the truth. Sure, I didn’t write for about two days when my Uncle passed away last month. There were calls to make and family stuff to deal with. And not exactly in the mood to write sketch comedy. But a few days later, I was itching to get back to work.

Since I last posted here, I directed and edited a half hour film (from a script that I wrote), finished three drafts of a feature-length screenplay, wrote for TWO sketch comedy shows, held a screening for the film, came up with a treatment for ANOTHER screenplay and am now in contact with the FBI to do some research with them, finally got up at the theatre I’d been banging my head against the wall to get into (and it went really well, by the way, thanks for asking!), and about half a dozen other new things that I won’t even bother to go into…because really, no one wants the details.

Are you writing?

Yeah. I’m writing.

And just for your information, the amount of pages churned out has no direct corollary to how one is ACTUALLY doing. Any writer will tell you that.

But yeah. I’m writing.

Even if I wasn’t----waddya gonna do about it? Hmmm? Take me out back and cane me like a Muslim woman who showed too much eyebrow? Shove me onto a train to a retreat in The Poconos? Take away my good pens? Refuse to let me darken your doorstep or be around your children?

Why do people always ask if I’ve been writing?!?!

Would you ask your doctor if he’s still doctoring? Your mother if she’s still mothering? An NFL player if he’s still beating the crap out of his wife?

This is what we DO. Whether you see it or not.

But…yeah. Everything’s okay. Thanks for asking.

I’m fine. And I’m writing.