I haven’t had a blog post in over a week. This is an admission of writers block. Shocking. Get over it. It’s not that i haven’t been busy writing. I have. The trouble is my ‘busyness’ has primarily consisted of staring at a two page bolt of screenwriting text and asking it far too many questions. As you might imagine this isn’t exactly productive as the text never answers me. It simply stares back at me, though i am convinced the light beaming at me from the computer are mucking about in my brain and twisting it into strange, ugly, shapes like play-doh.
Before i get into all of that let me do what all writers are guilty of: Use a flashback as a cliched literary device. So a few years back my friend and i collaborated on a screenplay. The initial idea was entirely his but due to several circumstances that were tragic and entirely out of my control, i wrote it. So the fault is entirely mine. It was my first attempt at writing a screenplay. I did a little research on how it was supposed to be done (a very little research) and then i just wrote the hell out of it. Literally.
A screenplay is an entirely formulaic affair. There are formal rules on what it’s supposed to look like, the font used, the margins, etc. It turns out that there are very good reasons why these rules exist but at the time i knew nothing of that so i wrote it how i thought it should look and i will say that the result was a predictable disaster of epic proportions. But that problem was fairly easily resolved with the help of some software that can handle that sort of stuff pretty easily. The other formulaic problems, not so much.
For starters the thing rambles on. And on. And on. It’s funny, heartfelt, and very good in parts but to be quite honest – as far as screenplays go – it’s a bloated epic. And that is my blitzkrieg flashback. Not much of one i know. So now we are in the process of revising it. It turns out my friend and writing partner on this project is very good with knowing what to edit. He’s actually put a lot of work into it (so it’s no longer entirely my fault, thank god.) But the fact of the matter is that we have engaged in a wholesale slaughter of our darlings to the point that the screenplay that was is now on life support with a knife in it’s lungs. The screenplay that is is much leaner, much better, and it’s quite capable of fighting back.
This is why i haven’t posted anything in the past week. I have had my fingers around the neck of a set of scenes in the thing but it is resisting surgery, or arrest, or detention, or whatever. In fact it is tenaciously clinging to life and snarling, and biting and trying to gouge out my eyes as i work on it. I have foolishly engaged in days worth of internet research trying to get reality to work with the plot. (don’t ever do this. Proceed in the bliss of complete ignorance until… oh what do i know? It’s too late for me to give advice on that.) This research has led me into interesting avenues about things i should have remained ignorant on for my entire life: North Atlantic Fishing Zones, Commercial Fishing Seasons, Distances from Halifax Nova Scotia to Greenland, the range of the Eastern Canadian Wolf, etc. It’s actually interesting stuff – probably because i have to be interested in it. But the fact remains that the scene has not moved. It is resolute. It wants to kill me.
I understand that it’s all a matter of self defense and preservation. That doesn’t make it any easier. Apparently, somewhere along the way i made the mistake of bringing an eraser to a knife fight. Luckily the screenplay has so far only succeeded in hacking at my hair and turning it gray. I keep trying to reason with it but it may be that i have to take the nuclear option and just blow up a scene or two to get them out of the way so that i can proceed.
The stupid thing is, and if you’ve ever worked on a screenplay before you will fully understand this garbage, the scene that i am currently stuck on is probably less than a page in length. It’s hardly a scene and it isn’t exactly pivotal, but when your dealing with the tiny literary real estate of 100 pages every single page is a critical organ or a vein that, once nicked, will bleed out the whole patient.
So maybe i am making too much of this. A better writer will probably put it on a shelf for a while and work on other stuff but this writer is stubborn and unruly and insists that the operation must commence so i can move it off of my operating table and onto something else. If only i had some ether i could put it out and start the incision. But no.
So that’s my excuse. I have another one but you’ll have to read about it in the next post.