Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Dreaded "Then What?"

This is something that I've been trying not to think about, and I think, for me, it's going to be one of the most difficult parts of getting back from erstwhile.

I'm writing again. That's good. As far as I'm concerned, it's wonderful - the feeling, not the results, which I haven't really gone back and analyzed yet.

But what happens next?

For starters, I have no idea how I'm going to integrate editing, revising, or rewriting into my process. I've been improvising, which is good - I work well when I'm improvising, and it stops me from endlessly waiting to have just the right plan before I act.

But editing and rewriting are very different from writing a first draft. It's a different process that requires a different kind of thinking and has different benchmarks for success.

I actually have confidence that I'm going to figure that part out, although my ideas on the subject are still very amorphous. It's the question of what happens after that that's looming in the distance, all ominous and scary. Like there's an elephant in the corner - and it's a vampire elephant!

Basically, assuming that I'm successful, I'll have written and revised a screenplay until it's a thing of beauty.

Then what?

I've been out of the game for about four years. I never had many connections in the film and TV industry. The ones I had are long-cold. Which means starting the painful - to me, excruciating - process of networking and building connections again. With no produced work to add any credibility.

I have the same problem with the comics medium. My connections in comics are more numerous, but mainly with people who are very, and happily, busy with their own magnum opuses.

And there is only so much that a writer who doesn't also draw (or, in the case of film and TV, produce and/or direct) can do alone.

Unlike prose, where the work can go to the market - if not the final audience - directly from the writer, screenwriters and comics writers can't reach the market without negotiating many intervening stages and passing many gatekeepers. Comics need to be drawn. Never mind getting producers, a director, actors and the funding - studios won't even open the package containing a film or TV script that doesn't come from an agency, and I don't have an agent anymore.

I want to write, and I'm glad that I am writing again. But I also want writing to be my career. I want to reach an audience. And then to realize that I could write a brilliant screenplay, or a superlative graphic novel, that sits on the shelf because I can't make it happen alone...

It's intimidating. It's hard to give myself over to the creative process if I think that my efforts are going to be futile. Worrying about "then what?" has been a huge internal obstacles.

So my solution, for now, is not to think about it. To focus on the work. And to stay positive. There will be opportunities that will emerge, opportunities that I can't even perceive yet, because I'm not in that headspace.

The key, I think, as with the whole process of de-erstwhiling, is targeted adaptability - being focused on my destination while being open to opportunities, detours and scenic routes along the way.

I'm sure that I'll have a lot more to say on this subject once the screenplay's done. Until then, I think I've exorcised this particular demon.

Oh - just under five pages of screenplay last night. The progress, it progresses.

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