Friday, June 27, 2008

Times Flies...

...when you're running around doing all sorts of stuff. The screenwriting business thrives on "meetings," as in face-to-face discussions to mull the entire litany of "what's next." One of the wiser pieces of advice I received many years ago from an experienced feature screenwriter was quite revealing: a "career" is based 50% on talent and 50% on relationships. I would add to that, "and an unqualifiable percentage is based on the fact that you're not insane."

People want to know you can do the job, but they also want to know their lives won't become an unbearable hell getting that work out of you. And I totally understand, because the inverse is also true. As I continue to meander through the world, "quality of life" in terms of work environment has become of paramount importance. It is a cliche, but life really is too short to spend it working at some endeavor that makes you miserable. And a bad environment, especially working in television, can be devastating. Because nobody (that I've ever met) becomes a writer because it was a close second to investment banking or roof maintenance... you write because you have to, because it fulfills some need, and yes, because you love it. When you find yourself in a situation that systematically pounds that love out of you, it's like discovering your girlfriend is dating your sister. It's just wrong and destructive on SO many levels. (And no, I don't have a sister!)

Of course, you don't have always have a choice in these matters. (Well, I suppose you do, but "starving" or leaving the business entirely is usually less attractive than taking even the most difficult job.) And there is a school of thought that experiencing/enduring the worst the business can offer is one way of toughening up for the future. But that can be like bouncing back after losing an arm; I suppose there is some value in realizing you can handle anything, but ultimately, you kind of wish you had your arm back. When a job chips away at your affection for the whole writing process, you're losing something less quantifiable but equally difficult to retrieve.

I guess all this quasi-philosophical musing comes to mind on the eve of the Battlestar Galactica wrap party, and realizing just how special this experience has been. As writers, we were challenged to do our best work, in an environment that allowed incredible creative freedom to deal with emotional, political and theological themes. Plus robots, spaceships and shoot-outs. The old axiom "you don't know what you have until you lose it" may be true for some, but I've been doing this long enough to know what a rare and wonderful gift this has been. And I'll always be grateful to Ron Moore, David Eick, the folks at the Sci-Fi Channel and NBC/Universal, the incredible cast and crew, and especially my fellow writers, for making this a once in a lifetime opportunity.

And now... next! Bring it on!