South City Confessions: My 2021 writing goal is…

Screenplays are tough.

I know there are several thousand stacks of paper sitting in a monstrous Hollywood tin can somewhere. A warehouse big enough to strangle several creative dreams with a single rope. It’s not an impossible task, but the hard doesn’t get taken out after the first line. It’s a process, as Steve Spagnuolo once assured St. Louis Rams fans for 46 different postgame confessionals.

Officially, I have started three different screenplays. Yep. Three small little stories. Okay, one of them would make Christopher Nolan foam out of his prestigiously shiny mouth. In a world… ahem… “A World Without Heroes” would star George Clooney and Clive Owen as two men pitted against each other. One a hitman moving like a jackal, and the other being an alcoholic US Marshall. A mistake lands the former trapped in a city where the lawman grew up and knows very well. And that’s like the first few pages of the script. My best friend, Eric Moore, and I grew this thing straight out of the ground from an old idea that had been buried in the basement of cinema thought. We had some steam, the real kind.

But we , or I, ran into a wall. Eric was the guy who drafted up the ideas, and I hammered the dialogue and alternate story beats out. I was good at getting the pilot light, but nothing stayed warm for more than 30-40 pages. It started with so much promise.

Clooney would play the hitman, going very against type at the time. It was like looking at that extra bloody steak at the deli; you see it before anyone else can dare even think about it. I wanted to buzz Doug Ross’ head and give him a beard. Basically, a younger version of his “The Midnight Sky” character, Augustine. Owen, with a stare that could kill and a voice that smacked you over the brain every time, playing the flawed yet highly intelligent badge going after him.

Cast a woman in the middle, but write this woman as the biggest brain in the room. She wouldn’t just be a shiny piece of screenplay plastic stretched out for its bare essentials, but a truth-blasting woman who pulled zero punches with gloomy men. I would cast Beanie Feldstein in the role, because Hollywood confuses a magazine cover spray tan of perfection for sexy and gorgeous still to this day. Feldstein is beautiful and fierce, the leading lady every movie about two men squaring off over blood direly needs.

But finishing a screenplay is brutally tough. Just ask all the computers and typewriters around the world wondering, “What happened to that idea?” The truth is, writing is one of the toughest gigs in the world. Believe me, because I have had quite a few jobs in my 38 years. Most of them paid, but all of them leave memories. But in all of those jobs, I was able to hide a good chunk of myself. I did the work and got the check, but left the deck before a big door was opened. A lot of jobs simply turn you into a robot for a wage, and you say alright then before contemplating what you’re doing there. But a writer doesn’t hide a thing. Every door is open, and it’s a sunny early summer day where the light blasts through a house like magical shrapnel. We are there, and you get all of it.

I didn’t finish the Clooney-Owen showdown, or the other two with similar plots and hooks. When it comes to the movies, I like drama with a moderate amount of action; like throwing extra salt on your spouse’s homemade mashed potatoes. Give me a few extra, just for good measure in case it sucks. My ideas had plenty of taste, but they never made it to the plate.

And I didn’t want to start that again. I began to think that I am an idea man when it comes to screenplays, not a closer. I am the semi-reliable fifth starter who gives you five good innings most of the time, but you need tums for his final 50 pitches. Two bottles. I just can’t do it, and I have tried. I’ve left pieces of my memory in those screenplays, like “Inception” would get lost in the subconscious. It’s a real thing. Writing is like homework for life, the fictional Hank Moody once said. Truer words haven’t been spoken by mankind yet.

So I decided to switch gears. I’m going to take a hard run at writing a book.

Brett Cooper

Yeah, I know I hooked you in with the Ryan Gosling driver stare, trust me there’s a long play involved there. I didn’t just use that thrilling shot from an excellent movie for no reason. Having said that, a little Gosling goes a long way when it comes to people clicking on your website, so yeah guilty as charged to a degree there.

I have a few decent book ideas (think “Knives Out” meets “John Wick”), but one golden goose of a story. I will keep those details private for the time being, because revealing the trick before the top hat is even on the head is a bad play all together. But that’s the 2021 goal. That’s it. Write a book, maybe break into a few minds with your words, and perhaps make a little dough.

I am trying desperately to make as many dollars as I can crafting stories with my hands. Whether it be watching and reviewing as many movies as I can-ones both big and small funded-or just talking about the Cardinals affecting my blood pressure. If I can do that and get paid, I’m in a happy place. The less time I have to be driving down rainy roads delivering food after an already long day’s work-virtual learning with a nine year old-the better for me. That’s the dream, at least. It’s not knocking the people who deliver food alongside me, but a declaration on myself. An ultimatum to never give up on your dream.

So I keep writing. Here, KSDK, Gateway Sports, and wherever else provides exposure or dollars, even the green potential kind that have to begin as seeds buried in the ground beneath your misfortune. A book just sounds like a fine heel turn in the script. The place where two paths can merge and live with each other for a bit. If a screenplay is too harsh and complicated-you have to express all movements, gestures, and invisible story turns on the page-a book allows a writer to just unleash everything in his head, and fix the puzzle later.

It’s my belief that most, if not all, writers just want less traffic on the road upstairs. Think of how our words turn into stories, and you can easily picture it as a highway we all travel on daily. The less traffic, the more comfortable and confident you’ll be on the road. If there’s more cars and traffic develops, the drive becomes much more difficult, bumpy as ever. So I want less cars on the road when I’m behind the wheel. In other words, when I am preparing to write.

Some stories just can’t get out of my brain properly, and that causes writer’s block. It’s like your head is doing the crime, but your hands are doing the time. It’s impossible to even write about a superstar like Albert Pujols (back in the beginning of this Dose launch, it happened a few times). Writer’s block is where all that traffic-think I-270 southbound at evening rush hour, St. Louis peeps-causes discomfort in your head, and no words can escape.

I felt like quitting a few times. It just got too hard and I also felt no one would read the words outside of my friends. This was before the Twitter days. Back before the internet exploded, and millennials bought up timeshares like I consume candy the day after Halloween. These days, you could fart onto a web page, and it can be 100,000 eyeballs within 24 hours. Anything is possible.

But writer’s block at any time is shitty. So I am going for the thing with less traffic: a book, aka the country road where no one goes.

I won’t promise a finish, but I am gunning for it. The cat is out of the bag, ladies and gents. Trust me, if I set my mind to something, the task should get done accordingly. There will be at least 300 pages-a nice hand crunch for your walk to the coffee shop after the vaccines come out-and it will be a fun read. I promise it won’t just be another place I mention OPS and WAR way too often. It won’t just be another movie review, where I talk about someone else’s film. It will be my own world, created from real life experiences. Where it was just you and me. Time may have something to do with it. No, it won’t be like “Tenet,” where they should have handed out Advil at the door.

More to come soon. And much more Gosling. Maybe mixed with some Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone, just for good measure, or a better movie.

For now, hear me. Hear me, like for real. Please don’t give up on your dreams. Whatever they are, stay on their nerves. Call them every week, shove them around on occasion. They can handle it. Ask your dreams when they are going to get married, and if they will have kids. Ask them when all the time. Your dreams need the push like all those conflicted superheroes in the movies need a purpose. Let them fly.

I will always be here for you, because you’ve always been there for me. You read my words, and I will never forget it. Not for a second. This new goal, a book in 2021, is for you. Call it a New York’s resolution, but not a comeback. I have no idea what I am doing, but I am going to do it anyway.

I can’t wait to start. Thanks for reading this opus of a blog. Trust me, the book will be a lot better.

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