The long dark edit of the soul

tick's back

And I’m back!

Miss me?

I know you did, don’t be coy now. Come on, we’re all friends here.

Well, not all friends. I know no one likes Gerald*; but frankly, if you’re going to behave like that in public then you deserve all the shunning you get.

So I’ve had my head buried in this script to the exclusion of all else and managed to completely neglect nearly every aspect of my real and e-life.

So sorry for that, but I’ve been busy.

But it’s done now. It’s over. I have triumphed. I have journeyed into the foetid depths of my dwindling imagination and emerged victorious once more.

Or possibly victorious, it’s hard to tell until the client comes back with his thoughts – the whole thing might be a complete and utter pile of poo.

I hate the first draft. Hate it. Every time I write one I wish I wasn’t. Anything’s better than writing a first draft. Watching juggling, that’s better than writing a first draft. Organising the kitchen utensils by date of purchase – that’s better than writing a first draft too. Hell, even nailing your genitals to something acidic would be preferable.

Your genitals, please note. Not my own. That doesn’t sound like fun at all.

You know what I hate most about the first draft?

Apart from all of it?

The final check and edit before sending.

It all just feels so pointless. I fully expect to ditch at least fifty percent of the first draft during the second draft. At least, possibly more. So fifty percent of the words I’m scrutinising for sense and originality and zingy-ness will be chucked out. It’s methodically polishing stuff which is going to be just chucked in the bin.

Add to that the fact I’ve been staring at these scenes (in various forms – synopses, outlines, treatments, character breakdowns) for months now and can no longer tell if any of it is good, bad or indifferent … and the whole thing takes on a kind of Kafka-like level of inanity.

I’m fiddling intricately with stuff I no longer understand for a client who’s going to hate half of it. And if he doesn’t hate half of it, it’s my job to convince him half of it is shit; because, you know, the scariest comment you can get about a first draft is:

“I love it! It’s perfect!”

Um … no. It can’t be. Half of it must be shit. It just must be. Read it again and read it fucking properly this time.

The other end of the fretful rainbow is maybe this client is one of those clients who doesn’t understand that fifty percent of the first draft is MEANT to be shit.

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What if he doesn’t get it? What if he thinks this is as good as it’s going to get and loses interest in the whole project? What if this is my only stab at writing this and I’m actually going to be permanently judged on THIS draft? What if he does something weird like send this draft out to everyone in the fucking world for an opinion and they judge me on this draft, not knowing which draft it is?

It has happened. And it’s not fun.

Couple those feelings with an all day session of squinting at a monitor until late into the night while everyone else in the house has gone to bed and perhaps you can see why I hate the first draft so much?

The second draft, on the other hand, I fucking love. Deleting whole swathes of shit with one keystroke, joyous!

So here I am, the day after submitting the script, waiting in fear of the judgement and in eager anticipation of being able to gut my own work. I’ve come through the long dark edit of the soul and am trying to reintegrate myself into society.

So what else has happened while I was away?

Well, I had one of those lovely meetings with a lovely TV development script editor at one of those lovely major production companies. Where the aforementioned lovely development editor explained, in a very lovely manner, why all my ideas were shit.

Now this may not sound lovely to you, but let me assure you it’s absolute fucking gold. I’ll go into how and why this meeting happened some other time, but the essence of why this sort of thing is so valuable is this: explaining why ideas are no good is exactly the same as explaining which ideas are good and what everyone’s currently looking for. Getting that information from someone who’s actually in the industry and actively seeking that content (as opposed to nobodies reposting the same old falsehoods on their pointless self-aggrandising blog) is amazing.

Plus, despite hating everything I pitched, she still wanted to read something else! Although, she may have just been being polite.

Either way, that was a beautiful experience.

I’ve also finished a script I’ve been writing with an actor friend (or to be more precise, my brother’s best friend’s brother) and it’s really something special. Or at least, we think it is – and I generally hate everything I’ve ever written.  Just need to make time to market that one now.

It’s a spec script! I’ve written a spec script! Me! Something I’ve written for me!

On top of that I was offered a script job I really, really want to write. Always a happy day.

And the cherry of delight on the cake of absolute awesomeness … a script I wrote years ago which has been in development for … well … since about six months before I’d actually come up with the idea, has found its way onto the desk of a guy who’s one of those people everyone’s actually heard of!

And I don’t mean just industry folk, I mean everyone.

He wrote that movie we all love. And that other one we all love. And that one I love but most people never saw. And he directed those two movies everyone except me loves which were produced by that guy we all worshipped as kids. Oh, and he directed those movies which everyone in the whole world went fucking nuts about.

That’s him!

And by ‘found its way onto his desk’ what I actually mean is ‘he asked to read it’.

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So, you know, that’s a good day right there. Even if he hates it, that guy who wrote that movie we all love and that other one we all love and that one I love but most people never saw and directed those two movies everyone except me loves which were written by that guy we all worshipped as kids and directed those movies which everyone in the whole world went fucking nuts about … will have read at least one page of something I wrote.

He knows who I am! Even if he thinks I’m a talentless twat, he still knows who I am!

Happy days.

And that’s about it for now, because I’m no longer accustomed to all this bloggy chat.

In essence, I’m well. Hope you’re well too. Feel free to brag about your latest efforts in the comments, I’m keen to catch up. Next time (which will be soon) I’ll find some free shit for you.


*Not you, the other Gerald. You’re lovely.

Categories: My Way, Progress, Random Witterings | 1 Comment

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One thought on “The long dark edit of the soul

  1. Pingback: 2013 | The Jobbing Scriptwriter

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