As the words on my gravestone will emphasize: it could always be worse.
I don’t do drugs or smoke. I gamble only with the amount of bacon I choose to wrap around my heart. “Drinking” means a bottle of beer occasionally after dinner…maybe two if my wife is having one of her shindigs. I don’t spend a fortune on clothes (but it’s only a matter of time before my novelty t-shirt collection grows in infamy coast-to-coast). We eat out maybe more than is financially prudent, but this is as much to do with hating to do dishes as it is about eating good food. Although it’s ridiculous how easy it is to eat well (which means eating badly) in Austin.
But I spend my money in a very specific way: I try to make myself write.
I buy screenwriting books – the how-to variety. And books of screenplays, so I can see what they’re supposed to look like. I buy screenwriting software. Most recently, Final Draft, on sale, because they won’t take me seriously in Hollywood if they find out I used to use Celtx. Which is clearly a worry. Also, obviously, I have bought Celtx. I buy swathes of how-to-write books. I suspect one of the most fruitful ways to make money from writing is to write a book about how to write and then get other desperate want-to-be-writers to fork over their $30 for it.
So that’s on my to-do list. Is there such a thing as a how-to-write-a-how-to-write-book book? If not, that could be the gap in the market I’m looking for.
I am writing this on a MacBook Air I bought because someone once asked me what I wanted to be and what I was doing to make it happen. My answer, weirdly, was: a writer. I am inspired by the people who have become clichés: the Starbucks laptop army, working on their screenplays with an empty coffee cup at their side. I want that dedication – to the written word and to stretching out a single latte for hours and hours. I needed my fancy little laptop.
And when I sell my screenplay, it will basically have paid for itself, right?
What else? A keyboard for my iPad. Because then I can write in bed rather than surfing to sleep. I believe that has actually happened exactly once. But still. Many copies of MS Word, obviously. A mountain – a literal, fire-hazard mountain – of notebooks. Each with no more than ten pages of writing in it. A diary of writing goals and achievements. This is heavily inscribed up to the middle of February and then…not so much. The most recent Writer’s Marketplace is bought each year. And then thumbed through a couple of times. It could probably change my life, but where do I start with it?
Recently, I’ve paid to make this blog “official” – a proper domain name, all that jazz. Maybe I’ll upload videos, but I haven’t yet thought that through. But this blog is important to me; oddly, this is the most consistent writing I’ve ever done in my life. So, more than anything else I’ve done, this surely deserves the investment of a dollar or two.
And in a couple of years (or 5 or 10), when I’m standing on the stage at the Oscars, holding my little gold statue, I will thank the many writers, and software creators, and gadget makers, who have got me there. And I’ll thank my director, Guillermo Del Toro, and the fabulous cast who (I will say, although I won’t mean it) breathed life into my words. But mostly, and most genuinely, I will give thanks to my wife. My patient, supportive spouse. Who is lucky enough to not live with a drug addict or a drunk or a gambler…but is unfortunate enough to live with a nearly writer.