Thursday, 11 September 2008

Doing What We're Meant To Do

I remember the feeling I had when I successfully made it through my first semester of teaching:"This is it! I've finally found my niche! God, this feels great!"

I'm getting that feeling again...

Writing is nothing new--I've been writing since I was a kid. But I always thought my first publication would be a novel. Maybe a chap book of poetry. Instead, it was a Physical Geography textbook. Public triumph, personal yawn. BFD. Not world-altering. Not even money-making, and I'm already working on the second edition. It didn't feed the soul or offer freedom of expression. A hurricane is a hurricane. There isn't much wiggle room there.

Tolstoy once wrote, "Every time you sit down to write, you should leave a piece of your flesh in the ink pot." Didn't really happen this time, Leo. There were stories scrabbling to get out, scratching and whining. Only there was no door.

And then I tried to write a screenplay.

It was like getting into a jacuzzi after a long workout. Add candles. Some anti-frantic music. My honey. (Let's save the champagne for the first sale, shall we?) Ahhhhh. Feel yourself melting? Me, too. No more thinking. Just float. Oops, sorry...too many bubbles. That's better. Just flow.

There is something so freeing about writing a screenplay. The experts say it's an "all show, no tell" medium. I don't have to spend five pages describing Edinburgh Castle at sunset as seen from The Craigs above Holyrood Palace and dive deep for metaphors to connect with my reader. That's what the camera's for. "EXT. EDINBURGH CASTLE - SUNSET" Done. Take a knee and pump an arm.

Now it's all about the relationships, the dialogue, brief cues to body motions or facial expressions. It's people first. I'm so frigging DOWN with that, right now.

So the first screenplay is about my experiences in Scotland. (Shocker, I know.) I can't believe how many stories I have to tell and how many different "characters" I met in the eight or so months I lived there. You know, like when you look into your storage space and can't believe how much CRAP you've accumulated and you have a garage sale and make a little money? It's like that. All the craziness, drama, and emotional CRAP, boxed up and laid on a page, out there for someone to buy.

I haven't missed a day of writing since I started working on this project. That tells me something. I am where I belong.

So I blow out the candles and sink down, watching the stars as the steam rises around me...oh, yeah...

Hell, why wait. Somebody pour the champagne.

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