I write a lot.
I mean, I’ve written at least once a day on this blog for almost a year now, with maybe two or three exceptions (that I made up by writing twice the next day). During that time, I’ve written the finished first draft of a, I am now finding, very rough play, the first draft of a less-rough play (I think), the first draft of a 15-minute screenplay, six pages of backstory for one of my D&D characters, many several articles for the magazine I work at, comments on political websites, tweets, random Facebook things…
Great or small, I’ve written quite a bit over the past year. Perhaps more than I’ve ever written in my life.
I’ve tried out tons of new styles, new topics, new ideas in these writings. I think, slowly, I am perhaps becoming a better writer.
But I am SO not there yet.
Reading some of the notes I got from my wonderful actors doing the cold read of “Camp Gethsemane,” I found that the three year process definitely took some away from the details. I didn’t write out character notes or story notes (beyond the notes I wrote about a year, year and a half into the process and the notes I wrote at the very beginning), so things got lost or left behind. Some details I didn’t even realize were details I had to think of. Life got in the way sometimes.
It’s strange that I was so lacking in detail and meticulousness with this project. Well, not that strange, really. I’ve never been that way before. I don’t tend to often write outlines and such down. I keep it in my head. I let it sit, germinate, write itself. Then I write it. Sometimes, the results are good. Occasionally, excellent. Sometimes, there are some flaws. And in a five act play, there’s plenty of room for those to sneak in. But one of my favorite shows is “Castle,” a show starring Nathan Fillion as a crime novelist. Sometimes, they show his fancy gadgets he uses for story writing, ones that allow him to keep large maps and details of relationships and background and the like.
So, really, details are something I know I need to keep up with. I’ve just never actually done it.
After this play reading I just had, though, thoughts have been flying at 100 miles an hour constantly. Seriously, nonstop. I took the day off work, tried to distract myself by organizing my Harry Potter Trading Cards (which I haven’t touched in, like, three years or so) and playing “Bioshock 2,” but still the thoughts fly about. It’s exhausting.
I did eventually sit down and write out a few specific notes. I’m trying to resolve some of the more basic troubles that were generally agreed upon by the group of critics that have read my work. But it’s hard, you know? I have other things to do, to write, to think about. I have to remember to pay bills, buy groceries, go to work, go to rehearsal, do laundry, take out trash… daily tedium.
Last night, I was discussing with a friend why I would like to earn money with my writing. Which I would. I would love to make my writing and acting an actual legitimate career. But I’m not looking for millions of dollars. I don’t think I’d say no, but I’m really just hoping for enough to get by.
Because, wouldn’t it be great if I could do like the greats did. Like William Faulkner or Henry David Thoreau. Or Colin Firth’s character in “Love Actually.” If I could just escape the tedium of life, the clutter of the mindscape… go out into the woods and be able to focus entirely on my writing… Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
I wouldn’t, of course. Focus, I mean. Not completely. One has to be able to take a step back and breath every so often. Take a break. Tedium and monotony are dangerous, even if it’s tedium and monotony from the writing. If you’re writing for the sake of writing, that can be detrimental to your story.
Still. I would just love to go to a cabin in the woods, by a lake, where the weather is a cool 69 to 72 all the time… Take my typewriter and a few corkboards, maybe my computer… and just write. Just settle in and write it all down. All these ideas, all these possibilities… pound them out. Get the work done. As it is, I’m going to be starting with “Camp Gethsemane” from the basics and work my way through from the beginning again. I’m not scrapping my previous work. I’ll keep scenes, lines, et cetera. But I have to start over with some things. The ending may end up being completely, entirely different. Hell, definitely will be. I’ll be writing three different ones, too, to determine what outcome fits better.
It’s a long process. A painful process, filled with doubt and fear. What I wouldn’t give to throw myself into it completely.