Last May I met up with my friend, Jeremiah, in Kanas City to hang out and work on a new idea I had for a screenplay. I came back with a rough outline for A EULOGY FOR THE BELIEVER and about 25 written pages. Not bad. I spent the rest of the summer trying to finish the script. I got to 100 pages before I shelved it without showing it to anyone. I didn’t even write an ending. I thought it was terrible: incoherent, rambling and unmotivated. I was frustrated. After that draft, I convinced myself that I had somehow become a worse writer.
The only activity in my life I have found to be truly satisfying is writing screenplays. That’s a big statement because I’ve experienced no commercial success with my craft. But it’s true. When I’m working on a screenplay I’m passionate about it doesn’t matter what else is going on in my life. I’m okay. I find it creatively satisfying. Travel is the only other activity that comes to close this feeling of satisfaction.
When I’m not writing stories, I feel lost. That’s when I start asking the big questions: What am I doing with my life? Is this is all there is? What does it all mean? Is it time to make a big move? Should I wander around Europe for the next year? Maybe I should go live in a village on an island in the South Pacific and see what that’s all about?
I started on the novel in an attempt to divert such thinking. In February, I was procrastinating and commiserating to myself about how the book is going to take me years to write, so I decided to reopen that draft of A EULOGY FOR THE BELIEVER, just to see if it was as bad as I remembered it being. What I found surprised me.
The draft was indeed rough and needed work, but there was a lot that I liked. It had life – the heartbeat of the story was there - and I discovered I could work with it.
There is nothing more arduous than writing the first draft when every page is blank, and the task is to fill it with words. It’s exhausting. There is a first draft fog that descends. The writing is subpar because the goal is not craftsmanship but page count. It’s no wonder I finished the draft feeling defeated.
Five months later, the fog had lifted, and I returned to the script to see it for what it is: a draft of a story that came from a personal place; a story that was worth fighting for.
I put the novel on pause, and I spent the past month re-writing the script. I’m happy to say that I now have a readable draft that I’m proud of. I’m starting to share it with my writer friends for feedback. I plan to submit it to few festivals and contests next month.
A year ago, February 25, 2017, to be exact, I wrote a post confessing that I hadn’t written anything new in almost three years. I can’t tell you how very satisfying it is to have a new fresh script in my pocket. My creative soul is no longer defined by past work. I still have something to say. And I hope it keeps the big questions away for a while.
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A WRITER AND TRAVELER KEEPING THE FAITH IN LOS ANGELES