YOU’RE the P/NP Problem!

I don’t have time to write this entry. I’m having a very busy few weeks, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but it makes me feel bad that I don’t have time to write more than a few updates to the blog. But I’m not complaining. Too busy for the website means I’m working, and working is good because I have bills to pay.

I’m writing the screenplay adaptation of Why Girls Are Weird (which everybody shortens to WGAW, which means Writers Guild of America West around here, so every day I think they’re discussing my book in the trades for about .03 seconds) and that is taking up just about all of my time that isn’t spent recapping, taking meetings or getting notes on meetings taken. You live in the possibility of the future when you’re trying to get a job as a screenwriter. You’re picturing not just how a director is going to like the movie you haven’t written that you sort of have an idea of, you’re picturing how the studio will like it, and how the marketing department will treat it, and what kind of person would go and see that movie, and how many friends that person would bring along with him or her. You can’t just think about the story and write it. A movie takes thousands of people to make it happen, and it all starts with your hands on a keyboard. But a screenwriter can’t get heady. The screenwriter is often the least important person involved with the movie. You could probably count on one hand the screenwriters you know by name, the ones who aren’t directing their own movies, the ones who just want to write. Screenwriting is the perfect job for people-pleasers, the ones who want everybody to go, “Good job!” and then take it from there.

I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, I’m just comparing the life of a screenwriter compared to the life of an author. When I write a book, I’m pretty much on my own until it’s done, and then my agent reads it and she has notes, and I give it to a few trusted friends to see what they have to say, and then if it’s sold my editor reads it and gives me notes and then it’s just back and forth with me and the editor, me and the copyeditor, me and the galley people until it becomes the book you’re holding. There’s no meeting for the meeting to discuss what might happen if or when or how or why. I write, you read. With a screenplay there’s a committee just to determine if it’s even worth describing the idea of the story to other people. Should you only pitch it instead of write it? Meaning: is this good enough that someone will buy it without you having to write it first?

what the eff am I babbling about here? this is all because i feel guilty that i haven’t written an entry in a while and so here i am while i eat my breakfast before i sit on the floor with all of my tax shit and try to do my own taxes because i didn’t make enough money last year to even need to use my accounting lady, because she costs too much money and i’m smart and i should be able to do this on my own so i’m stalling and i’ve got to get back to the screenplay and it’s nerve-wracking because i’m almost done, i’m almost finished on this first draft which means i have to turn it in. and then that means i’ve turned in my first screenplay that someone paid me to write so i’ve slowed down because i am afraid of being actually done, which means i have to turn it in. i hope it’s good and what they wanted because i’m a people-pleaser and i have to get started on the new book soon and sometimes i wonder what would have happened if i had stayed in austin. i mean besides getting laid off from all of my jobs and probably becoming a drunk.

Yeah, when you start using all lowercase letters, that means it’s time to sing the Hollywood song in your head. This is what I do when things start to get a little scary. “HOLL-lee-wood! Dun-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-HOLL-lee wood!”

Stee and Laura House were doing this the first time I visited Los Angeles, when we were talking about the SAG strike that was going on at the time. Everybody was broke, nobody knew how they were going to make money, Laura and Stee were temping and scared and HOLL-lee-wood! Dun-nuh-nuh-na-nah-nah-HOLL-lee wood!

It’s best to do it when you’re driving near the Hollywood sign. Preferably as you pass a hooker and a stray dog.

Shit. I got to go back to work. This wasn’t a very positive entry at all.

Here’s what I’m saying. I’m good. I’m happy. I’m extremely happy. I have no complaints. There’s just work pressure, and there’s no water cooler, other than stee by his own computer, but he’s going through the same pressures I’m going through now and so we cope by going out for sushi and talking about anything else. So here I am, telling you that getting what you want in life can be really, really scary. You asked for it, and now it’s here. Don’t fuck up.

That’s what’s in my head, the advice I hear. AB going, “Well, Miss Pam? Don’t fuck up.”

Shit. Okay. I’ve got to go finish this script and turn it in.

Currently Reading: The Power of Babel.

I read the following in The Next Fifty Years:

“In 2000 the Clay Mathematics Institute, in CAmbridge, Massachusetts, offered prizes of $1 million each for solutions to seven long-standing and intractable mathematical problems. One is the Riemann hypothesis. The others are the Poincare conjecture, a topological characterization of the three-dimensional sphere; the P/NP problem of theoretical computer science, which asks for a proof that difficult computations really exist; the Hodge conjecture and the Birch/Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture in algebraic geometry; the existence (or not) of solutions to the Navier-Stokes equations of viscous fluid dynamics; and a proof of the “mass gap hypothesis” in quantum field theory. I suspect that by 2050 we will know a lot more about all seven problems, with mixed results.

And then my brain swelled, a little, and my eyes watered up and I thought, “Duhhhhhhh,” and then I drooled a little. And then I decided not to read the essays about math and stick to the ones about genetics and brain surgery and stuff I at least slightly understand. And then I feel like a fancy smarty-pants when I read an entire essay and understand it.

  • Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon, by Chuck Palahniuk. This book is the one in my purse, the one I read when I’m waiting in an office or in a line or on a break at my late-night job. But I don’t have the late-night job anymore and I haven’t really been waiting in too many offices lately because I’m not taking a bunch of meet-and-greet meetings right now, so I haven’t read too much of it lately.
  • Joy School, because I need something for the tub that won’t make my brain hurt.


Leave a Reply

Comments (