I find it quite difficult being me.
Not in general terms, my life is generally pretty easy and moderately fun; but in specific, scriptwriting terms, I find it a struggle to live up to people’s expectations.
And it’s all my fault.
Through some furious typing, a smidgen of cheating and a sprinkling of propaganda I’ve acquired a reputation for being an extremely fast writer.
Some people recognise this as a talent and think it’s amazing. They make jokes about my ability to pitch on the fly or reminisce about the time I re-wrote a scene with one hand whilst making dinner with the other.
It’s not a bad reputation to have; but it does lead to two problems:
- Any story which is told and retold inevitably ends up being exaggerated out of all proportion. These people now believe I’m twice as fast as I actually am, or was when I worked for them.
- They come to expect this ludicrous level of speed from me as a matter of course.
Other people I work with, here in the shallow end, are too inexperienced to know any different. When they’re in a rush to get things done and I achieve a seemingly impossible deadline, they just assume that’s normal behaviour for a writer. They don’t seem to have any concept of how long it takes to write anything … and it’s my fault.
Again, I’ve created a rod for my own back.
It’s getting ridiculous.
If I say I’ll start to write something on a particular date, people assume I’ll also deliver it on that date. If it’s a feature script, they’ll probably expect it within the week.
You know this concept of finishing a script, sitting on it for a week, re-reading it, correcting it, expanding sections you’ve had better ideas about … basically re-writing which is what writing is supposed to be?
Never happens to me.
It’s always: type ‘THE END’, hit send.
No waiting, no read throughs, barely even any spell checking.
The weirdest part being, no seems to mind. I can’t remember the last time someone wasn’t happy with something I’d written.
Okay, so sometimes they’ve had new ideas and want to take it in a new direction; but I’ve yet to have someone turn round and tell me the last draft was a bag of shit.
Maybe they’re just being polite?
The point is, I don’t know how to get off the merry-go-round. When I explain to people that it’s not possible to deliver the script in the time frame requested, they think I’m joking.
And then I go and ruin it by doing it anyway.
It can’t go on much longer, I must be reaching the limit of what’s feasible for me. I know there are writers who are much faster than I am, but I really feel like I’m running on the edge. Every script I write is a mad panic to get it done before the deadline.
I even (gulp) miss deadlines.
Not by much, you understand, just a minute or two.
The problem, the real problem, as Mandy frequently points out, is I don’t ever really say no. I don’t want people to think I can’t do something, it’s all part of Operation: Cuckoo; which I will blog about at some point.
If I can do it without making myself sound like a megalomaniac control-freak.
Or at least, more of a megalomaniac control-freak than normal.
So here I am, saddled with a reputation which is partly my own creation, and wholly my own fault, with no hope in sight.
Pathetic, isn’t it?