He wanted to talk to me like a Dutch uncle, but he was too young to play uncle to me, Dutch or otherwise.  “This is a business of relationships,” he said, “you get to know people, establish  rapport, go to their parties, their kids’ bar mitzvahs, you support their charities. You attend a wedding, a funeral. You take a lunch just for a bite to eat. You call them up, ask them how they’re feeling and what they’re working on. If you’re nominated for an award, you go, and you go to the after-party, win or lose. You wouldn’t do any of that.”

“I did, in the beginning.”

I loved all that, but it got in the way of the work. I learned back then that working only when I had nothing on the social calendar put me in a hole. I had to work all of the time, and allow nothing else to go on the calendar. That, by the way, was the poet Shelley’s dilemma: Does the artist need companionship or isolation to create? He posed the question of whether great art required the support of others or the rejection of society. (The artist’s rejection of society, not the other way around, which is a given.) It was a dilemma for me as well, putting aside the question of whether or not screenwriting is an art. Shelley never answered his own question, and so he wavered from one extreme to the other, traveling with Mary and her sister and sometimes Byron or Keats from one ideal spot, sure they would all live there together forever creating great poetry, to another ideal spot where they would be lucky to stay out of each other’s way.  Shelley never had to ponder if movies were art. (Paddy Chayefsky never had to ponder if video games were art.) 

(From “Eternal Sojourners”, due 11/5/19, Skyhorse Publishing)