Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Not-So-Ancient Mariner: Rob Long at Sea

The Lengths a Writer must go to Write...

Rob Long, esteemed weekly commentator* on KCRW (see “Martini Shot” on sidebar), and veteran television writer/producer, is at sea. Literally. He's on a very big boat, traveling a very long way in a serious, doubtless expensive (well, it will be a tax write-off...) quest for a significant stretch of undisturbed time. Bedeviled by the myriad distractions of modern urban life, he has chosen a unique form of self-imprisonment – in effect, solitary oceanic confinement – in the hope of finding sufficient empty mental space to fill those otherwise blank pages. Traveling as a passenger aboard a mammoth container ship called the “Hanshin Miami,” Long is chugging across the vast Pacific from Seattle to China via the coast of Alaska, Russia, and Korea, trying to finish writing a script on the way.

As anyone who listens to his KCRW broadcasts knows, Long is an excellent writer. He’s been involved with some very good, successful shows over the years, and a few others that although well-written and funny, were for one reason or another unable to catch the magic of lightning in a bottle, and stay on the air. You win some and lose some – and that’s assuming you’re good enough (and lucky enough) to achieve the status of “player.” Long has been a player in the television wing of Hollywood for quite a while now, but staying in the game these days isn’t easy. Maybe he's feeling the strain, and thus has resorted to such seemingly desperate measures.

Or maybe he just wanted to shake things up a little, take a radical tack into the unknown, and see what happens.

At any rate, you can hear him explain it a lot better than I have by clicking here. His website has a few photos from the voyage, with brief descriptions of his trip thus far.

I’ve heard of writers going to great lengths to find the solitude essential to writing — hunkering down in isolated cabins in the north woods, or tiny remote villages deep in Mexico – but given the reach of modern electronics, it’s no longer so easy to really get away from it all. Rob Long thinks he’s found a way, and if those South China Sea pirates don’t take him hostage, it’ll be interesting to hear how it all worked out.

*I hate to quibble, but is that a real word -- commentator? Shouldn’t it be “commenter”, as in one who comments? And if not, just how does one “commentate?”

To me, “commentator” sounds like some rather plebeian variety of potato, rather than a person with something to say...

No comments: