Friday, February 18, 2011

"I Figured It Out"

I have solved a problem.

This may not be “Stop the presses!” news for others, but it is definitely for me, as I am not by nature

A problem solver.

I am a skilled problem identifier. 

I am an articulate problem-describing delineator.

I am adept at criticizing other people’s solutions to problems.

But I am not


In any reliable way,

A problem


For which the problem solvers of this world should be grateful.  People like me make them look incredibly valuable.

Those people should really appreciate me.  Imagine if, among my problem-solving-related attributes, I was an actual problem solver as well.  If that were the case, the problem solvers of this world, the people who solve problems and nothing else

Would be entirely expendable.

Fortunately – for them – I am not an actual problem solver.  So those guys are mercifully off the hook. 

Let me take a moment here to apologize to the legitimate problem solvers for having ventured onto their turf, and solved this one problem myself.  Rest assured, I am extremely unlikely to do it again.  I solve maybe one problem every ten years.  So, really, you have nothing to worry about. 

So what did I solve already?

I solved this.  And by the way, it took me more than three years to figure it out.

Not infrequently, a situation has arisen wherein writers – writers I know well, writers I am merely acquainted with, and sometimes, writers who are acquainted with people who know me, but I personally don’t know them at all – have asked if they could send me scripts, for my professional evaluation.

I generally say okay.  I like evaluating scripts, seeing what they’re like, and determining what they need to be better.  I have a talent for evaluating scripts, primarily half-hour comedy scripts but I can generally read any script and figure out what it’s missing, if anything.  Though there is usually something.  No one has yet written an unimprovable script.

The problem here is this.  And it wasn’t always a problem.

In the past, by which I mean before e-mailing, if somebody wanted me to read their script, they had to hand me, or mail me, or messenger me,

The actual script.

My favorite of those was “hand me”, since it invariably involved a lunch that the scriptwriter would pay for when they handed the script over.  I’d do it for nothing.  But a free lunch doesn’t hurt.

The time passed, and there was no more free lunch.  Now it was e-mailing.  With attachments.  The attachment being the script.

Now I am not in the habit of reading scripts off of a screen, even my own.  I print them up.  And I read them off paper.

The consequent problem, however,  is that when somebody e-mails me a script, I am required to print it up.  Using my own paper.  A half-hour comedy could be fifty pages long, a movie script, a hundred and twenty pages, or more.

That’s a lot of paper.  I get two or three scripts, I have to go out to Staples and buy more.
So there’s as inconvenience factor involved.  As well as the expense. 

Not to mention the attendant confusion in the whole arrangement.  The confusion being this:

When people contact me, asking if they can send me their script, I usually say okay.  But they can sense a certain hesitation in my response.  Understandably, they interpret that hesitation as a reaction to the imposition involved in their request.  And that’s not what it is.  Mostly. 

It’s the paper.

Now, however,

That problem

Is no more.

I have solved the situation thusly.  My solution involves an insight that hit me entirely out of the blue.  It was literally like a light bulb went off in my head.  Well, not literally, there being no actual light bulb flickering on and off in my head.  So let’s say, figuratively.  But it felt like literally.  It really did.

Here is the thinking process that was involved.  Previously, after I’d printed up the script the writer had e-mailed me as an attachment, I would read the script, think about it, get back to them with my comments, after which my final step, never a happy one, would be to throw the script away. 

Bye-bye, all that paper.

Suddenly it occurred to me that printer paper – all paper actually – has two sides to it, the top side and the other side, which could be the top side, if you turned the sheet of paper over.  Paper is flexible that way.

What this meant was that after I printed up the script and read it, it was not necessary to throw all that paper away.  I could simply turn the pages over to the unwritten side, return them to the tray of my printer,

And then print whatever I wanted on that other side.

Wasting no paper


Eureka!  I had found the answer!

The result of this discovery is that now, when people ask if they can send me their scripts, the hesitation concerning their using up all my paper has completely disappeared.

Leaving only the hesitation concerning the imposition.

Who knows, I may figure out a solution to that too.  But I think I’ll take a little rest first.

This problem solving is exhausting.


joe said...

But what about the ink/toner?

john:P said...

perhaps an ipad? You can read as many pdfs as you can cram on that thing.

Steve Skinner said...

I agree with Joe, the paper is cheap compared to the cost of the ink!!

Max Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Max Clarke said...

Joe is right, printer companies practically give away some printers just to lock in the ink sales. That's where they make their money. The true cost of ink is thousands of dollars per gallon.

When you print that script, imagine the ink level slowly descending.

You're doing a favor for the scriptwriter, they should give you that script in whatever form you want.

If it were me, I'd require a printed script so I could read it in the tub.