Monday, January 11, 2021

Me Writing a Screenplay and Maybe Next Year I'll Become an Astronaut or a Doctor


You know that scene in Legally Blonde where the professor says, Do you think she woke up one morning and said, I think I'll go to Law School today? Well that reminds me of me deciding, Oh, hey, I think I'll write a screenplay of the Gummy book. That's what I call Nobody Told Me Love in the Time of Dementia, my memoir about me, my mother-in-law, and dementia. 

After that decision my reality became a tsunami of new information to learn, software to choose/purchase/master, skills to miraculously acquire, and incredible friends who pointed me toward incredible opportunities that I don't begin to deserve. 

Why I thought this was doable is downright foolish. That's exactly the attitude that got me writing books to begin with. One day I really did wake up and decide that after decades of writing stories in secret, I was going to finish an entire novel and figure out how to get it published. 

That's all well and good. Finishing the book is the famously difficult part. It is to be applauded. Yet getting it published was a whole new difficulty. Publishing is a business, much to the colossal disappointment of countless writers like myself, and you actually have to learn it and do the work. Yes, after all the effort of writing the book, then you have to learn about the publishing business.

You might think that would have given me a clue about writing a screenplay

Why I thought that adapting a memoir to a screenplay would be basically a formatting issue is a tribute to my clueless optimism. (My muse is whispering, dumb dumb dumb.) I'm still trying to figure out the screenwriting software. Sure, I wrote one screenplay start to finish already, but no, I still haven't really figured out the software. 

I'm a visual learner. I had the story in my head. I had the movie in my head. I got copies of other screenplays and I tried to duplicate the formatting. Sorta, kinda.

Hey, I took a Masterclass and read books about it!

It's still clueless and precisely how I began the novel writing process so long ago. (Wait, how do you format dialog? *opens a book to see*) Ignorance really is bliss. That's why I enjoy writing first drafts so much, before you have to do it all again properly. Anything is possible when you first begin writing and before you start the slow climb to publication/reality. Over time I've developed a method. This is my secret: I turn shitty first drafts into novels with the tenacity of one of those whales attacking boats off the coast of Spain. BAM. BAM. This is MY boat. BAM. BAM. Do as I demand. BAM. BAM. Surrender, mortal!

My technique is to write a thing and then continuously rewrite it as I storm the seas until I find a way to make it a real book. I suppose that'll work for screenplays too. 

Or not.

The book Nobody Told Me Love in the Time of Dementia is a book I rewrote eighteen times. Keep in mind it's a true story. You might think that would have given me an edge and cut down on all the rewriting. It didn't. Who knows how many times I'll rewrite the screenplay? I keep working and rewriting until I find my flow. Tenacity is my superpower. 

Maybe by the time I'm finished rewriting the Nobody Told Me screenplay, I'll have figured out the

screenwriting software. (It worked for Microsoft Word.) More importantly, as I attempt this new technique, I'm really building some unused writing muscles, plus I'm networking and learning as I go. This month I began another screenwriting class. MOOC classes are my favorite way to learn new skills. 

If publishing is big business, movies/television/plays are a freaking Goliath/Amazonian/Giant! 

Tenacity looks a lot like those whales. It might not make sense to onlookers, but my muse and I know exactly what we're doing. (Banging our heads against the bottom of a boat, right? Surrender, mortal!)

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