The Sparrow is 400 pages and spans nearly fifty years. On trial in Rome, disgraced priest Emilio Sandoz narrates in flashback the events that led up to the Stella Maris crew assembling, reaching Rakhat, and making contact with the alien species (plural) there. We the audience have to learn about the Runa and Jana’ata as quickly and exhaustively as the crew does; on Earth, there’s the Jesuits and the mafia to contend with.
To try and cram this into a two-hour movie—even stretching it to three hours—would necessarily cut key developments. Since The Sparrow is headed for television, however, each episode could be bookended by the frail Sandoz trying to make his peers understand why he made the decisions he did. Each season could be the standard twelve episodes with a year in-between.
The Runa and Jana’ata wouldn’t suffer, either, since there could be entire episodes devoted to characters like the merchant Supaari VaGayjur. Consider the Battlestar Galactica season 2 episode “Downloaded,” where for the first time we see what happens to Cylons after they die. Suddenly, Number Six went from a sex symbol and saboteur to almost human. Most importantly, parsing out Sandoz’s story over the course of a season or two would preserve the horror of the novel’s emotional payoff.
On October 15, 2011, I moved back to my adolescent bedroom with $300 to my name; on October 1, 2012, I moved into a Bushwick apartment I’d recently signed a lease for, once more a proud, productive member of the American economy. In between, I freelanced extensively for a number of publications, usually on a daily basis — my math is very shaky, but I estimate I published somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 words in that time span, some of them terrible, some of them not-terrible, but all of them paid for. Over the last year several people have burnished my ego by telling me I’m the only one amongst our age group whom they know to be making a full-time go of the freelance thing, which is sort of hilarious/terrifying because I fell into it accidentally and had never taken the time to think about how I’d gotten to this position. Here is my stab at some of that thought process, though I’m sure I’m forgetting plenty.
(DISCLAIMER: Things I have been wrong about include the long-term viability of Kreayshawn, the candidacy of Francois Hollande, the importance of chemistry between the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers, the subversiveness of Odd Future, etc. I am wrong a lot, and if anyone reading this has found a better way to do the things I’m writing about, great! Please chase that. But this has generally worked for me, and thus I will share it with you.)
This has been so insightful.