This post is brought to you by Gotye’s “Eyes Wide Open,” which I’ve been listening to in the last two days.
My original plan for this entry was to post another “Screenplay of Sorts” segment on the writing process, but that was held up – unfortunately – by the actual writing itself.
Don’t get me wrong: I like the discipline that I get from constant writing. I think that working on an actual story saves me from getting too lazy and complacent during this summer vacation, to the point where I find myself spending too much time checking Facebook and Twitter.
The only thing I don’t like about the constant writing is the time I spend with my inner editor.
That became a big problem with me as I built up my screenplay outline. I revised the opening scene several times to keep everything consistent. I killed off characters and plot lines on a regular basis. Worst of all, the hype I’ve built around creating a kick-ass female character in Iris Garcia boiled down to turning her into a love interest who cannot live down the constant bullying in her life, yet finds herself drawn to Pete because… they’re both bullied?
And they say writing’s supposed to be fun.
The more I write, though, the more I understand that the discipline does have a calming effect on me. Working on the screenplay outline has been my way of processing a lot of difficult thoughts that I’ve had lately – anxieties over uncertain relationships, political ambivalence, growing older in general – because I’ve been rewarded, in the process, with a livelier approach to storytelling. Somehow the “average” Oregon town where I chose to set this story evolved into an actual place that didn’t seem so ordinary, even if it still feels like the kind of place where people like Pete would choose not to settle down. And Pete’s friends are more than just his henchmen; they’re also individuals who are just as anxious and lovelorn as he is, and the interaction between them defines their characters. If I close my eyes for a second, I might even be able to smell the fresh Oregon air and hear the leaves crunch under my feet as I watch Pete and Iris talk about that one time when that thing happened, which explains everything between them.
That’s what I always tell people: Writing is about trusting the process. It doesn’t matter if you’re working on an outline or starting a story from scratch; if you want to write, just write. Everything else will sort itself out later.