Anatomy of a Freak Out

I’m starting to feel that tug of laziness with blogging that always seem to show up after these initial spurts of blogging activity. It’s not a lack of topics, I have plenty I want to write about including the book I just finished, Pocket Kings by Ted Heller, how much I still hate summer especially now with kids, my feelings on “Men’s Fiction” and Twitter platforms, and any number of other topics. As I said, part of it is laziness, but part of it is that feeling of yelling into a void. Anyway, I’ll get over it and keep plugging away here because I do like it and feel there are myriad benefits down the road to be had from this place. One thing I’ve done to help myself get into the posts is to do away with the pictures I’d been including. I like how they made the site look, but I was spending way too much time looking for just the right picture and going to Google images is just such an easy trap for my already flighty attention span.

If you REALLY miss the pictures let me know but I don’t see a huge rush to protest their absence.

Now to the freak out. I briefly (about six hours toward the end of yesterday) made a panic return to my PI novel but not for any of the reasons you might suspect. It started by reading this post from John August that pretty much crapped on any remaining dreams I may have had about being a screenwriter. The I remembered that hey, I just read a story about a first time screenwriter who won a contest then sold his script with Marky Mark attached to it so, hey, maybe there is hope.

To bolster that opinion, I decided to look into other winners of that same contest and see what they were up to. I found one of them online who hadn’t made much of a splash as a screenwriter yet but was a pretty successful playwright with a big play about Fitzgerald. That led me to read up more on Fitzgerald and his screenwriting career which led me to the news that Dennis Lehane’s forthcoming novel had been sold as a movie vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio. In that same article it mentioned that Shutter Island was Martin Scorsese’s most successful movie. I hadn’t realized the movie was that popular. This led me to Wikipedia to look at how much money it had made. I was shocked to find out that SI made almost $300 million dollars. Did any of you realize it was that big of a blockbuster? So then of course I had to go back and see how much the other Lehane movies made. Mystic River was a $150 million hit (again, I hadn’t realized it made that much) and Gone Baby Gone made $34 million but that was a much smaller budgeted movie.

I think you can see where I’m going with this now.

My immediate thought was hey, I don’t need to be a screenwriter I can just sell my books to Hollywood and make money. This led me briefly to think I needed to emulate Dennis Lehane’s career path, which was also the career path of most of the authors I know who are big now. They started with a critically acclaimed but modest selling detective series then after four or five books took a break to write a stand alone novel that rocketed them to the bestseller list. But of all of them, only Lehane’s success story included big movie success. I assumed this was because he wrote dark operatic crime stories with great characters.   While looking through all of the money the movies made, I also noticed that there were a lot of Academy Awards for acting in the mix as well because his characters are so great.

In retrospect this is silly because of all of the 90s writers who went on to big success, Dennis Lehane is probably the least commercial of all of them. There is no reason Mystic River should have taken off as big as it did. He’s even said that himself. But I didn’t see that in my hour of weakness. All I saw was that I needed a big book about race and social justice , not the silly little satire I was currently working on. So I went back to my dormant big book about race and social justice, which is my PI novel RUINS OF DETROIT. I was thinking that I’ve still got a month before the deadline for the PWA/St. Martin’s Press contest to get the book into shape. As always, the book is not bad and has some really great parts, but in my eyes it’s an average to slightly above average PI novel not the knock your socks off bombastic game changer I think it needs to be to separate itself from the pack. Maybe when I’m done completely with MURDER BOY I’ll take another crack at it. But for now, I’m all in on this book which is where I need to be.

/End Freak Out