Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What do you do for a living?

Upon reading Aury Wallington’s most recent entry on the frustrations that come with answering the question; “What do you do for a living?” I had to commiserate and thought I would now share that here as well. Not sure if it’s the curse of the creative but you’ll probably be beat up with criticism and an “I can do better, could ya help me?” response.

My wife and I both work I Children's Animation, hear in NYC, and are clawing our way out. Not that we haven't enjoyed our tour of duty. After all it's how we meet, while working on Nick Jrs. "Little Bill". My wife is a writer, and for myself I'm a Storyboard Supervisor. My back ground is that of an Artist but I'm a storyteller and my job deals more with making a story work then drawing. So what happens when I'm asked "What do you do for a living?" the simple answer is I work in Children's Animation, as most people are clueless as to what a Storyboard is? 99% of the people say, "Really? I wrote a Children's Book, you should illustrate it!" The other 1% well... "You should do a Children's Book; I have a great Idea for you!"

Now I've taken my share a shoots of whiskey over this. You got to be careful though because I have a sneaky suspicion the Bar Tender also wrote a Children's Book.

I am now at the cross roads of my carrier and as mention above both my wife and I are moving into live action. We have a few scripts we're working on together and she is prepping a spec script as we speak. So I now tend to be even more sensitive when I'm asked what I do for a living. Don't want to go down the road of hearing the bar tender lean over and say, "I wrote a script!" verses "I wrote a Children's book". So I option for "I'm in transition", and then leave it at that. This is dangerous because you don't know who knows who and all that.

But just when you think it is safe, it gets you! The following situation of how my wife, her High school boyfriend, his roommate (ten years younger then us), and myself came to be in a strip club in San Francisco is a whole other story. However... the night was going well and we where all having a good time. A few drinks, some laughs, getting along with the "entertainers". We actually spent more time hanging out and chatting with the strippers then anything. And then it happens. I swear, I'm sitting there talking to a stripper, my wife sitting next to me and the question comes up. Katie leans over and asks, "So what do you do for a living?" My guard is down; no reason to over think anything "I work in Children's Animation". Not a single beat missed, "Really? I wrote a Children's book!" I sit in disbelief, waiting for the next line, where they ask me if I am interested in illustrating it. Oh no! Not this time. "It's being published next month. You'd love it; it's about an alcoholic teddy bear." I am not making this up! I can only imagine it's a small independent press in the bay area. But apparently it's for kids.

From that day on, I stopped telling people I work in Children's Animation. Now don't you worry, I still have neighbor's approaching me about there Children's Book. As soon as we got back home from our trip our neighbor across the hall stopped by to pitch it to me. And then there's the neighbor that lives on the back side of our building... And the guy that lives at the main entrance. And I'm sure if I talked to anyone else in the complex I could rack up another half a dozen books for the list. I've resigned that this will go on for the rest of my life, no matter where I end up.

If you work in television and have found yourself with the same frustrations that Aury has found when asked what you do for a living, I sympathize on many levels. I daily deal with the tribulations of making a show work and watch the good bits recede into the dark (most by S&P and the bloody research department, for us). That crowd of 99% that asks you "How come your show is so unfunny? Don't you guys realize how bad it is when you're writing it?" well let them try and do better. For the 1%, tell them your agent only works with sitcom writer's that write unfunny scripts. For me, I'm going to except my fate and tell the world I write Children Book's and cut them off at the pass!

Thank You Aury for letting me share. Or should I say thanks allot for reminding me!

p.s. Although I have played with the idea and I do in fact belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, I do not in fact write Children Book’s. And that's not from a lack of ideas, I have files full of ideas. I have credit as an Illustrator on a book and at a time it looked like it might be my Carrier path. Maybe trying on my fait bestowed among others. I much prefer to work with an older audience.

p.p.s. The info at Amazon does not list me as an Illustrator, that's another story! My name is on the actual book cover and the title page.

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