Sunday, June 27, 2010

Query formatting for zombies, and other G20 news

Obama is in town for the G20 and the welcome party is in full swing! Now, as you may have heard, some news reporters are getting all in a huff about the so-called "vandalism" and "anarchy" and "violence" that got mixed in with the legitimate protests. Puh-leese. These reporters -- they just don't get us. This is how Canadians celebrate financial sector reform and the free market economy -- with cop car burning, window smashing and baby seal clubbing. We're just cool like that, CNN. Take a chill pill. Geesh.

Anyhoo, I'm all tuckered out from a gorgeous day spent throwing mailboxes all over Queen Street West, so I thought I'd update you on the pilot. It's easier on the wrists.

The L.A. TV agent called me two weeks ago and the news was neutral. It was a courtesy call of sorts to tell me that he had not had the time to read my pilot. I was fine with this since "not read yet" is so much better than "Read it. Hated it. Go away." He said he'd read it on the weekend -- as in two weekends ago -- but still no news. Whoever called it a "game" is a jerk because waiting is no fun at all.

In between all this, I've been wondering if I should get back on the novel wagon. It's tempting but I'm not sure if I should. It's an ego thing, obviously. I'm enjoying taking a break from trying -- I'm finally starting to feel sane and self confident enough to walk into a book store without throwing sticks of Starbucks VIA Ready Brew at the new releases wall. I had moved on. I was SO over it. Until a few weeks ago.

Suddenly, out of the blue, scores of e-mail responses from long, long, long ago queried agents started showing up in my inbox. Some were at least six months old! Dead! Buried! Suppressed under layers of vacation memories, the excitement of a new job, and a terrifying house hunt. But here they were again -- stinking up my Yahoo like a zombie with an AOL account. Rejection from beyond the grave is quite a slap, you know. Much more cold and hard and foul smelling than the standard version.

So for now, everything is as it has been for a very, very long time. I'll let you know if anything changes. In the meantime, here's a great tip for formatting e-mail queries that I wish I knew about a year ago. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go celebrate the new international banking reform regulations (!!) by taking hostages at a Pickle Barrel.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Do cuddling cats make up for a bitter post?

You know when -- hypothetically -- you suddenly find a really long hair somewhere abnormal on your body and you’re both amazed and disgusted? You marvel at how it managed to grow for several decades, unnoticed and unchecked? And you start to blame that hair for every failure in your life so far? Every disappointment? Every rejection? Every phone unanswered and every SASE that slithered under your door? Because someone somewhere with a bit of power must have caught a glimpse of that hideous hideous Super Hair? Hypothetically?

Well, that’s exactly how it felt last night when I noticed the finest of fine print on the Disney/ABC application.

I had just finished writing and editing and re-writing and re-editing my Miss America “statement of interest” for their program when I noticed this little blurb next to a weird little box:

Statement of Interest should include why you are interested in the Program and how your voice would add to the diverse landscape in television.

"Diverse." It sounds sweet and well-meaning, and I suppose it sort of is when it applies to you. But I know what the real definition of that word is. Disney doesn't come right out and say it, of course, and they use legalese to protect themselves...

Disney | ABC Television Group is an equal opportunity employer and it is our policy not to discriminate on the basis of age, color, handicap or disability, ancestry, national origin, marital status, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, or political affiliation, or on any other unlawful basis in our employment programs.

... but the meaning of the "d" word, at least in my life right now, is this: "White girl can't write."

So, in my irritated state, I re-wrote my Statement of Interest. And it got ugly. Instead of the svelte, sleek size 2 it once was, it took on the shape of a fat, bloated lament documenting the trials and tribulations of a poor little white girl. It was dumb and fumbly and, if my heritage was not enough of a barricade to this program, my bad attitude most certainly will be. Here's a taste:

... See, although I am a white, middle-class woman with fabulous hair and dreamy eyes—the kind of person who shouldn’t have any problems sleeping her way, er, I mean working her way to the top via the traditional studio system—I’m still going to go for it.

Done aaaannnndddd done.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A useful post? What the #$%&?

Whoa. How did this sneak in under the radar? Yesterday I came across yet another U.S. network writing program and this one blows the others out of the water. The Disney/ABC Writing Program runs from February 2011 until February 2012 and, get this -- it actually pays! $50,000 for the year! But hang on now. As a wise gangster rapper once said, "mo' money mo' problems." See, the presence of money means I'd have to get a U.S. visa, which is not easy to come by these days. The bonus of the WB and NBC programs is that since they don't pay, and since they're under six months in length, I can head south visa free. Except that other Visa, of course. That card will be BUSY.

Like the other programs, the competition for Disney/ABC spots will be stiff as a dead man. Here are some interesting and intimidating facts that I’ve cobbled together about this, the most prestigious of all the U.S. network writing fellowships:

- in 2010, there were 1,268 applicants. Eight were selected as fellows.

- 22 professional readers read the scripts

- Applicants who make the cut will be contacted for a phone interview. If the phone interview goes well the applicant proceeds to the three-day interview process. Here’s what that process consists of:

Day One: There will be a mixer with finalists and executives. When the night is over executives will discuss their perception of the finalists individually. They will be asking questions like; did he or she treat everyone at the mixer with respect? Can he or she work on a staff? Could he or she function within a writing room?

Day Two: ABC Disney Executives will interview finalists individually.

Day Three: Mostly panel sessions consisting of producers from different shows who will ask further questions of finalists.

If you want more details about what you can expect once you -- you lucky mother$%cker -- get into the program, click here.

The deadline is July 1, 2010, so I'd better get my act together. And you too.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I am officially f#@%ed.

If I wasn't me, I would look at this post and think, hmm, she MUST be self-sabotaging. She MUST be afraid of success, or of making her dreams come true or of L.A. traffic. Because there is NO way that such accidental stupidity exists in nature. Nature is not such a cruel b!tch. Well, except to impalas, of course. Nature's Lunchables they are.

Confused? Me too. So let's begin, shall we? Let's unravel the mystery of me and my pseudonym Id, which is now officially short for "Idiot."

Here is the e-mail I received last night from NBC's Writers on the Verge program:

Dear Ms. _____,

We have received your application and need you to make the following changes to the release form:

page 1 - please add your name in the "submitted by" line.
page 2 - please include the principal characters

Please email back the revised release and in the subject line of your email please put: WOTV-revisions

Thank you.

Submissions NBC Universal

It was not a surprise that I needed to make the change to page 1. I had long ago realized I left my name off this form and I had corrected the mistake immediately. So they didn't get it last week. No big deal. The second correction request though, I wasn't expecting. That particular item was optional so I had passed originally, and left it blank. So, impressed as I was that NBC didn't just chuck out my application based on these omissions, I was immediately grateful and this morning, promptly re-sent my application. Fine, right? Wrong.

Last night was a bad one. I tossed and turned until 4 am and woke, horribly, three hours later magically unable to return to sleep. Instead, I unplugged my laptop and sat on the couch to correct the mistakes I had made. And instead, I made more. Worse more.

Somehow -- again, magically -- I ended up sending the poor intern MY ENTIRE DOCUMENTS FOLDER. The whole f-ing thing!!! How? I have no idea! It just happened! It rained here last night and although it makes no good sense, for some reason this act of nature seems to be linked to Internet meltdowns in my house. So in the middle of attaching the proper file, we had one of those meltdowns and, when things cleared up and I checked my "Sent" folder to make sure the delicate operation had succeeded, I saw, again, horribly, that every document I had worked on in 2010 went through!! WTF?!

I had to immediately re-send the proper file with this sad sad little note:


I just checked my "sent" folder and, aside from my revised release form, it looks like my whole documents folder also got sent to you! If it managed to get into your inbox, I'm so sorry! Not sure how that happened. I promise that I'm not usually such an impressive screw-up! The proper file did get sent to you in the next e-mail, however. I hope you received this one! If you could send me a confirmation email, that would be great.

Sorry about all this!


Bad enough, right? WRONG. In the e-mail from NBC, a specific subject line was requested. But of course, because this is the sort of life I'm living right now, I f-ed that up too! Which means that I had to send a third (!!!!) e-mail with the proper file AND subject line. I could not bring myself to even acknowledge this error so I simply re-sent the file with no mention of the error. As if what? She wouldn't notice? She wouldn't break out into laughter, forward the whole icky mess throughout the office and promptly chuck my application into the trash?

The life of an impala doesn't seem so bad right now. Yeah sure, my lifespan would be short and twitchy but I'd least I'd have an assistant.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's not cussing, God, if I write it funny

My ego can only take so much burning. The shadowy, translucent thing can only survive within my rashy skin for so long before I have to give it a break. Too much rejection -- too many long, dark silences and phones that don't pick up and form letters that friends say I should keep so that I can laugh and laugh and laugh at all the pain they once caused me when I am finally finally roosting high upon my gilded throne of literary / tv / film / dermatological success -- combined with life's little unexpected twists and sidesplitting turns and well... sorry, where was I going with this? Oh yeah: L'eggo my frozen waffle, already. L'eggo!

So this is it. I'm giving it one more shot with L.A. TV Agent Man and that'll be that. He either wants me or he doesn't but I can't chase him down any more. I think it's too shameful an act to follow up more than twice. And, given how little shame I am personally capable of (a cup of ADD mixed with a soupcon of sociopathy? Mom? Thoughts?), that's saying a lot.

So, in honour of the dignity that I had before I began this whole grand writing experiment (and the tiny scraps I still have left) as soon as I'm done this teensy weensy post, I'm going to send L.A. TV Agent Man one final e-mail. I will remind him of my existence without sounding desperate or pitiful. And, yeah, it will still totally come off sounding desperate and pitiful because I'm just so freakin' in your face and real like that. But at least I'll have tried, Dod gamn it. At least I'll have tried.