Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An emotional rollercoaster

As you may have gathered from my last post, I was feeling somewhat down after my two hour script session last week. I’m not quite sure why… okay, that was an outright lie. The fragile writer’s psyche that craves recognition and praise baulked at the first sign of resistance. But the points raised were all valid and put across in a constructive and amicable way. I suspect what I thought I heard in the dark recesses of my brain was, “oh no, I’m going to have to start all over again!”

Thankfully, two things happened that disabused me of this notion. One was the two hour recording of the session was made available and - once I got over the inherent awkwardness of listening to myself - it proved very useful. Secondly, that recording was circulated to my producers and director who told me I had, in fact, not descended into a babbling wreck and did fine in the back and forth.

I had typed up the notes I took during the session but when I reviewed the recording I became much more enthused as there were nuances and aspects I had missed. All the positive stuff! Funny how the mind gravitates to the negatives first and foremost. I was then listening with a ‘problem solving’ mindset and not a ‘defensive’ one. And a pathway of possibilities emerged using the existing elements.

One of the most interesting questions was: what are the elements that are sacrosanct? This made me assess aspects that have never seriously been challenged even from the earlier iterations by other writer(s). For example, the main character has always been Chinese-Australian and related to the antagonist. Why? Can we explore questions of culture and acceptance in different ways that frees up the genre aspects of the plot? Yes, of course we can!

So when it came time to meet with my producers and director yesterday to do a debrief, the whole project began to open up in ways we had never really explored. Which is really exciting!

But it’s that emotional rollercoaster you go through as you take in feedback, process it, knuckle down and work out solutions then emerge re-enthused about different pathways for your story. The trick is trying to stay on an even keel and not get despondent – script development is, in fact, hard. That’s where supportive collaborators are so vital and an attitude that embraces problem-solving as a vital part of your screenwriting armoury. Having expert feedback helps as well!

I now return to the trenches with a plan and the enthusiasm to carry out that plan. After all, nobody ever said rewriting can’t be fun!

ps I don’t think I’ll be getting a Spoken Word Grammy nomination just yet… but there’s always the next session!

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