Following my post, TTSCC Scenes I’d Like to See (Part 5) – Veritas, I received an email from a casual lurker (their words) asking why do I post these scenes? Did I expect to be “discovered” or something?
The short answer is that I write that stuff because it makes me happy. I wrote screenplays from the late 80s on into the early 2000s. Nothing produced (close, though), and a few got optioned. Though I’ve tried writing in the more narrative forms of the short story and novel, and find comfort in them, the fact is that no form of fiction writing gives me more pleasure than the screenplay. I like its structure and conventions. I like how it is designed to be visual (duh…like a movie) or it can be completely aural (like a play) or anything in between. It’s only shortcoming is that it can’t easily be internal (in the mind of characters) like the narrative forms can.
So, do I think I’ll be discovered? Well, technically, I’ve long since been discovered. Right now, I’m doing it just because it makes me smile. The TTSCC fanfic is mostly because that’s what’s on my mind at the moment. Plus, I’m pretty much only writing random scenes and sequences. I’m not nattering over them for hours and hours trying to make them all polished and shiny. Those scenes are pretty much straight from the brain followed by a really quick read for spelling and grammar (though some still slips by). It then gets formatted for the web and posted.
What do I get out of it? Like I said, it makes me happy. Also, and this is a thing many writers can appreciate, it gets it out of my head. Scenes, stories, and other miscellanea tend to build up and clutter my mind. Much like a painful zit begging to be popped, these bits of creative flotsam want to be free. When they get written, the mind is eased.
It also illustrates an interesting phenomenon among a lot of writers: when we have time to kill from our writerly tasks, we have an amazing tendency to write. That’s what we do, you see. We’re writers. We write. Long before texting and IMing and other alphabet-filled methods of communication became popular with the masses, writers were taking breaks from their writing by sending emails, participating in forums, chatting via Talk or IRC, penning letters, or working on private projects.
Take this blog. Over ten years ago, my friend Finn* said that I should blog, that it was strange that I wasn’t. My argument was that by building dedicated personal web sites, I sort of was. Also… I didn’t feel I had much to say. Clearly, I’ve overcome that. Not that I really have anything more to say now than I did back then, but that I’ve managed to get past the angst. As I often opine about this site: I might not have anything to say, but I’m not afraid to say it.
But back to the script stuff.
I’ve never been a great reader of fiction. It’s not that I don’t read at all, but I’m not one of those people who has ever been compelled to read novel after novel. Nope, I’m a viewer. I grew up watching TV and the movies. My narrative frame of reference comes from there, so the script format is almost like breathing for me.
The odd thing is, most of my friends are avid readers. It took me a long time to figure out why I was not. It finally dawned on me that I got more enjoyment from the tales in my own imagination than I did from borrowing the imagination of others. Not that other’s works that I’ve read aren’t brilliant and/or entertaining, it’s just not as fulfilling to me most of the time.
But hey, some people love growing their own vegetables and other foody things while many more just want to eat them. It’s the same in the writing realm. Some are farmers, and enjoy it, while others are consumers. There’s always a balance.
You might wonder: if I like writing so much, why aren’t I in Hollywood plying my craft? The easy answer is family responsibilities. I’m not a peach-fuzzy-faced youth who can just go out to La-La-Land and join the multitudes of aspiring screenwriters (a/k/a food service employees). (BTW, I know I’m not the best script writer ever, but I’ve read more than enough stuff to know that I’m not atrocious, which helps the ego.)
And I have to admit that I’ve never understood the need for proximity. Supposedly writers need to available for meetings and such. Honestly, in real-world practice, no they don’t. With the nearly ubiquitous technologies we have, the only reason for a writer to be in town is so they can debase themselves in person to development people (it’s not pretty). I’d argue that as long as there is a writer-hyphenate always on the set to take care of immediate issues (usually an executive producer), most screenwriters don’t even need to be anywhere near California. I say most, because the one exception are sit-com writers. They engage in an insane number of rewrites each episode based on how reads and rehearsals go that they do actually have to be there.
Of course it’s not like I’m turning down offers or anything. I’m just getting a kick out of doing what I’m doing. Based on the speed of the scenes I’ve written, I know that I can still kick out the occasional hour-long teleplay first-draft in 2-3 days without breaking a sweat (maybe in less than a day if sweat’s included). That’s sort of gratifying.
And so, those scenes will continue to pop up from time to time. For me, that’s playtime. After all, writers write, and for good or ill, I’m a writer.