The Adventures of Nowhere Kid

The image above is copyrighted ©2016 by Marc Alexander Valle

I finished four screenplays as a teenager while my grades suffered. The first was called Land of the Lost River. It was a Spielberg-inspired story. It involved heroes fighting Nazis and dinosaurs, looking for the fountain of youth and messiah-like aliens saving the day in the end.

Then there was An Unserialed Surreal Christmas Carol. It took place in a small mid-west city. The main character, who attempted to move to Hollywood to make movies, got stuck in this city on his way there. No need to get into detail. Nearly all other elements resembled Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs.

Worn to Perfection was a script that I wrote for Paul Newman and Robert Redford. It was about two aging con-artists bonding together for one last heist.

Finally, there was Abduction. It was about a teenager who abducts the man that he believes molested him.

This is what I see now:

Land of the Lost River was about being saved from myself.

An Unserialed Surreal Christmas Carol was about being lost

Worn to Perfection was actually about the pain of absent grandparents. Elderly relatives that would have put my household’s anxiety in balance had they been present.

Abduction was about anxiety, depression, mental illness and my desire to be diagnosed with one. Because if you were as strange as I believed people saw me, and if you were alienated as I felt, than you’d want a mental illness to explain it too.

But like many teens did with their comic books and baseball cards, I threw out all of those pre-graduation drafts. The only thing I bothered to continue to work on for years was Abduction.

I cringe at the thought of reading a draft of that. And hope that I always will.

High School: The Dating Sign-up Sheet

In high school, I wondered where the dating sign-up sheet was. I had a thought-feeling that there was a system that paired up one person with the other for a few weeks. The worst thought-feeling was the Friday night party. Upon entering this party any notion of Marc’s existence would be erased from people’s mind. They were having too much fun.

My Friday night was spent watching the films of Kubrick, Coppola, Scorsese, Kurosawa and writing Tarantino-inspired screenplays. I was going to be the next Spielberg, and it would take me to the top of the dating sign-up sheet.  Questions would haunt me those nights, “What are they doing?”, “How does a guy talk to a girl?”, “Are they making out?, “Is the girl I have a crush on there?”

We spend too much time in those years worrying about people that we will never see afterward, and we spend too much time after wondering what we would have done instead of worrying about those people.

I would have read more prose and I would have written more prose. That’s all I can think of. It might or might not have changed my life, but I know now that’s what I should have been doing. Ironically, I struggle to do those things even more so today. The dating sign-up sheet reincarnates again and again.

Screenwriting as Teenage Therapy

At 15, I wrote a screenplay intended for Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The title, Word to Perfection, was the tagline for Paul Newman’s most recent film, Nobody’s Fool. It was about two aging bank robbers getting together for one last job.

I realize now that it was actually about the absence of grandparents in my life. Not that I didn’t have grandparents, but there wasn’t a relationship from either the maternal or paternal side. I needed someone else to go to with my problems, and I subconsciously thought that they could help.

Many of my high school and community college era screenplays were about needing help and hoping that someone could give me an outlet other than writing. Writing just wasn’t enough to deal with feelings of alienation at that time.

Fortunately, I discovered the likes of Bob Dylan and The Beatles. They gave me another world to step into. I got a message from that music: You’re just fine being you. Marc the writer is just the tip of the iceberg.

It would still take me years to find the courage to dive into the ocean and explore that iceberg. But inch by inch (with school, meditation and social events) I did. Now, I’m at a time where I can see what function each screenplay was trying to perform. It makes me wonder what my present day writings are trying to say.