Last week, during a post-reading Q&A, I was asked what the main difference between writing novels and writing screenplays is. My answer was instant: “Meetings.” Novelists will sometimes get together with their editors or publicists, and can even force themselves to attend conferences or workshops. But compared to writers in the movie and TV rackets, they’re hermits. The latter industries’ primary product isn’t scripts, but meetings. There are writers known for being “good in a meeting,” and this can be enough to buoy an illiterate’s career for several years. And so much turns on how one feels coming out of a meeting. Analyzing the “vibe in the room” can be Jungian in its density and attention, the meeting studied like a fascinating psycho with multiple personality disorder. A meeting in which “the energy just wasn’t there” can spoil a dozen lunches or more.
It sounds like I’m complaining. The truth is, I get a kick out of these meetings most of the time. If you’re working on a project you believe in with people you believe in, their articulations of how they see the thing you’re trying to realize are crucial. More than this, the shared effort to nail an idea provides company. Writing is a solitary occupation (and I love it for this). But, sometimes, there’s nothing like a good-vibe meeting with a lot of energy in the room to make you feel less alone.