This post is brought to you by Mariah Carey.
So: The screenplay.
I’m taking a break from it right now. Did a few worksheets. Drew an outline. Even wrote a sample segment, including an out-of-order sex scene that may or may not make it if I manage to draft the whole thing. Ate a lot of Nutella along the way.
But now? Shelved. Because school starts in a week, and I don’t know if I can handle writing this and taking on a full-time academic load at the same time.
I have mixed feelings about this. I wrote this in the middle of an interesting month, while trying to process a lot of things mentally and emotionally. (Didn’t help that we were going through a major political event during that time, along with some personal spiritual reckoning on my part… and on top of that, the realization that I might not be able to afford to go to my own high school reunion.) I loved my characters, didn’t hate my plot, and even found a way to throw in some memories of a vacation that I’d spent in Southern Oregon so many years ago.
And yet, once I finished writing, the doubts began to creep in again. I can’t write comedy. I can’t write a strong female character. I can’t write anything that doesn’t involve people getting hung up on high school. I can’t even write any story that doesn’t involve too much talky-talky, and everything’s going to be 120 pages or something…
Then I encountered this bit of advice from screenwriter Terry Rossio’s blog:
The bad writer finishes a first draft, dubs it gold, and sends it out. There’s the problem, right there — they stop writing too soon. They aren’t willing to do the real work, the hard work, of telling the story. The work that the story demands. They dash off the parts that are easy, and develop an odd kind of blindness toward the rest.
Yes, writing is hard work. Yes, it’s frustrating to be stuck on my laptop on a nice day when I should be out exercising, or looking over research reports. But I know myself, and I know that once that moment of inspiration gets a hold of me, I should go ahead and run with it until it all makes sense.
Even if I didn’t produce a screenplay right away – and even if I have to put this aside, for a moment – I did learn a little bit about myself along the way. I have to be busy all the time; I like to take on projects that are feasible for me, so I can supervise the project from outline to draft. I learned that I can’t afford to be lazy even on the laziest of days, because there’s always something out there to challenge my mind.
And if I ever hit that low point this semester – if I go crazy with taking up, say, back-to-back classes in statistics and quantitative analysis – then at least I’ll have something fun to fall back on when I have my nights to myself.
I’m going to miss this project, but I won’t mind visiting again once in a while.