Why my change in focus from novels to screenplays?

Here’s a summary:

  1. I wasn’t finding representation for my first novel, possibly due to difficulty in identifying genre.
  2. So I switched focus to a murder mystery, figuring I could use that, with it’s nice clean genre, to break into the ‘biz (there’s no reason the first novel you write has to be the first novel you publish).
  3. Sadly, that effort came up way short of my goals (18.6K vs 65K).
  4. So I decided to switch focus to self-publishing, as I heard that people were buying murder mystery novellas.
  5. Which lead me to negotiate a grand a book budget from my boss (wife).
  6. All this was grand, until I suffered from acute depression around 2017 birthday (I hate birthdays, they always remind me I haven’t built any space stations (don’t click, it’s sad how out of date it is)) in parallel with…
  7. Recalculated our retirement goals (we do this a couple of times a year, to be sure we’re on track for the summer of ’22).
  8. Realized how foolish it was to spend all that money ($8-10K just on things already in the queue ($3.5K already sunk)) with no return.
  9. Crisis of ‘faith,’ leading me to give up writing novels while in the midst of getting covers made, prose proofed and awaiting dev editing feedback on my series.

After a great deal of thought (normally birthday depression only lasts a few days, this time it was over a month), I realized the only thing that got me excited any longer was the prospects of being able to direct a movie.  A silly dream, yes, but really, how much sillier than being a best selling novelist?

I’ve had a number of business ideas over the decades (from building molecular scale computer components, to sequencing DNA on a microchip (got a patent on that one), long-term digital data storage and aquaponics; I am nothing if not eclectic) that all went nowhere.  All also had lots of dependencies, usually on finding other people with money.

I could write scripts, though, and then direct them for reel, beer and pizza.  Or so I’ve been told many times during my research on independent films.  Of course, few will ever see such a film, almost exactly like self publishing your novel.  However, I feel, by gaining experience and proving my capabilities (or, perhaps, proving to myself I really don’t have what it takes, or find I lack the desire), I can legitimately hope to find a producer that can back a project with enough money everyone can get paid.

I believe now is a golden age for independent film making.  Places like Netflix and Amazon need to have exclusive films to lure in customers and, at least until they develop their own studio system, they’re likely to depend on the indie movie scene to fill the gap.  Plus, the technical aspects have got so cheap.  Even if you want to film in 8K, rental is only a few thousand a week and the computer power to process/edit even 8K raw format is something entirely feasible with a moderate budget.

Besides, people have always said my prose was terse and descriptions minimal, perfect fits for screenplays. I might as well write where my strengths are.  While still quite rare, I feel the chances of making enough money to live off of screenplay writing is much higher than doing so as a novelist.  There are so many more people who watch movies compared to reading books.  Sad that this is  the case, but I got into the writing business as a mercenary intent on monetizing my free time, not to scratch an itch (though I confess, I find it hard to avoid the itch now).

Author: mitusents

Biochemist, MBA, then programmer. Now novelist, screenplay writer and hopefully director. What a strange trip it's been.