PolarisDiB (polarisdib) wrote,

(Reminder:) Writing is Work

I'm nearing completion of the first draft of a feature film. I need to have the first draft done by Thursday, after which it will be read and reviewed and then I have to do a second draft. When I do a second draft, I'm going to have to figure out some method of accountability and deadline.

If I finish it, it will be the first feature length script I've ever completed. I have had many enthusiastic starts but never gotten this far. And getting this far has made me realize why.

Some background on how this script has been coming together:

About two years ago a friend gave me a book of short stories by Lucia Berlin. Lucia Berlin was a writer who went to UNM and lived in New Mexico (as well as a bunch of other places including Texas, Idaho, California, Mexico, and Chile), and a lot of what she wrote about resonated with me. I'm familiar with other New Mexican authors who write about New Mexico (so George RR Martin doesn't count) like Rudolpho Anaya and Tony Hillerman, but Lucia Berlin's writing is the first that really felt like it shared my experiences and feelings about the people in New Mexico.

I gave the book to my mother (asking her to pass it on to my sister) during Christmas 2016 and went about my life not really thinking about it. Until one night I was thinking about it. And kept thinking about it, particularly a short story called "Strays." And then one night I sat down and rewrote what I remembered of "Strays" and a few other stories (like "Angel's Laundromat") into script form.

Then came the excitement part that happens easily enough. A new idea, one that felt like a good idea and sustainable. And unlike my other scripts, this had a source material I could crib from if I got stuck. So I decided to get to work.

(Sidenote: But I needed the source material back. Christmas of 2017, the book was nowhere to be found at Mom's house. So I ended up having to buy another copy.)

So then I poured through the stories again and outlined the beats to fill out the story, and then I wrote all the scenes that excited me. With those scenes I came up with characters I liked enough to start filling out more of their stories. Scenes would beget scenes and I'd always have like half a dozen more scenes left to write even when I started with half a dozen at the beginning of the day. This has been going on for several weeks now.

Now I'm almost done and it's very hard, largely because: I've exhausted all the good scenes I really wanted to write; I've exhausted all the scenes from the short stories that fit into this narrative; I've exhausted all of the scenes that important dramatic things happen -- now I'm just down to the scenes that tie those scenes together, bring us to where we need to be. And they're obnoxious to write largely because though they are linking together necessary scenes, it's hard to make these specific scenes also necessary. Three of the scenes I wrote today I already feel like as an editor I'd just cut right out.

So my typical experience writing feature length scripts is to have enthusiasm for an idea built around a couple-few scenes. I write the scenes, get excited, and then sort of drop out. Then there's a couple scripts I got more serious about and outlined, and started working through them until I got to the "How the hell do I get from here to there?" part and dropped out. Now I had a source material to help me get from here to there, but the links between this here to there and that here to there also needs a link that

<i>WOULD</i> drop me out if I didn't have this deadline and also the knowledge that I'm not going to move forward unless I sit my ass down and do the work.

Anyway the tl;dr of this is that like 99.9% of other people, the writing stops when it becomes work; since writing is work, that's why most people don't write professionally and why I'm not a professional writer. But I get to re-experience this again from the perspective of being in the middle of the work, and literally having to fight against procrastination and laziness to get it done.

Why I haven't gotten this far on previous scripts is because the writing is work part also includes the fuller details of the larger story in addition to it's various plotting issues. Gonna have to overcome that too, next, after this script is done.


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