Monday, September 13, 2010

Sell Out

I like to juggle several projects at once. I heard once that if, as a writer, you have to choose between working on the only project you have going and not writing, you'll choose not writing. However, if you have to choose between working on this project or that project or not writing [still], you are much more likely to be productive. With the former you have a 50-50 chance of being productive. With the latter you have a 66-33 chance [or, as HW Guy said, 25-25-50. It's still 50-50. I disagree] of getting something done.

I said the other day that I have an index card with my list of projects taped next to my light switch. There are five projects on that list. I try to work on at least two a day in some capacity.

Blog posts do not count.

Today I reread "Keys to the Garden." As per most writing advice I've ever heard, once I finished Draft #3, I put away the script for a while. It's riddled with holes and inconsistencies and scenes that made me cringe while I was writing. But I put it away and didn't think about it. Since it's been about a month since I celebrated the promise of rewrite #4, I had to take time to reacquaint myself with the story. I took myself to a coffee shop, ordered a mint mocha [because the only way to drink coffee is when it's disguised as something else], and reread the whole script with minimal interruptions.

I tried not to make a lot of notes, or even any judgments. I jotted down a handful of things that I wanted to chance on a legal pad as I went, crossed out a few extraneous words, but for the most part, I just reabsorbed my story. The work of actually wrestling with it will probably start with notecarding [AGAIN] as I rework some plot problems before I cut and edit and delete and rewrite and subtextualize the heck out of those 88 pages.

I love this story. I do. The characters, the dilemma, the eternal good versus evil battle. The mythos, the magic, the pain, the death. It's one of my favourite, if not my favourite, scripts that I've written.

I don't think it'll ever sell.

As I was rereading the script, even as I was rediscovering my attachment to it, I could hear the negative reviews. Predictable plot, simple characters, irrelevant. But I also consider those critiques to be strengths of the script. In a good versus evil story, aren't all your characters in some way simple? This one's good... and this one's evil. The complexities are there, but sometimes I worry the epic battle between good and evil has been disregarded out of hand as passe.

Also it's a pretty spiritual story. Like, really spiritual. If you think the Chronicles of Narnia got some flack...

I adore this story. I know that it's so far from perfect now, that maybe some of my concerns would be solved with more and more rewrites, and I could carry it for years. The current plan is to finish Draft #4, make it polished and pretty, then pass it along to a few people who can give me real writer's notes, friends in the industry, former professors, etc. Let them get back to me with brutal honesty [the kind that writer's notes are famous for]. Read and consider their notes and decide what to do next. But at what point do I make a business decision instead of an artistic decision? At one point do I decide that, even if I don't think the story is irrelevant, it is if no one will read it? How many drafts, hours, mint mochas, until I let it go?

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