Friday, April 1, 2005


203 pages completed on the screenplay for The French Inquisitor

I'm halfway done. 

I'm taking a break to go to San Diego tomorrow.  I need it.  It's been eight days of solid writing.  That's an average of 25 pages per day.

I've met my goal.

                           *     *     *

I'm writing this screenplay using a detailed treatment.  In the last month before my Spring Break, my co-writer fleshed it on his own.  Now I'm writing the first draft by myself, transforming that treatment into a detailed blueprint for the screen.

Once I've written the first draft to the best of my abilities and skills, I'll hand it to him.  He'll attack it ruthlessly, revising and polishing.

As my co-writer edits my work, I'll shift my focus.  Kendrick and I will continue developing Teacher!  It's an idea for a television series.  Or maybe a film.  And still very much in conception.  Like The French Inquisitor was when it was born in April 2000.

Although I suspect Teacher! will develop much more rapidly. 

                           *     *     *

I know.  203 pages for a screenplay.  And only half done?

Am I crazy?

Okay, Okay, Okay.  So I'm way overwriting.  But that's how I work.  I get all the ideas down on the page during the rough draft.  Then I go back and cut it down to the exact length required (120 pages), saving only the best ideas.

Does anyone else work this way?  Tell me they do.

                           *     *     *

Working Thesis

The more material I create, the better the final, polished product will sparkle.  Writing works best when I use aprocess.

Over the past four years, I've learned to separate my writing process into two acts: Creation and Revision.  Two distinct steps of action.


Letting my right brain dominate, I pour out ideas, images, dialogue onto the page.

When everything's out, I take a break.


Giving control back to the left brain, I look over what I've written.

And edit.  And cut.  And polish.  And proofread.

Then I listen to what others tell me about what I've written.

Then I repeat Step Two.  Several times.

                           *     *     *

The fever of creation.  All artists know it. 

When I shift from right to left brain ... and carefully read what I've written ... I'm always a bit surprised ...

I don't remember some of the things I've created ...  Some of the details I've dropped onto the page ...

The fever of creation.

                           *     *     *

This process helps me avoid Writer's Block.  Helps me stick to the schedule.  My co-writer doesn't use this process.

He edits in his head.

                           *     *     *

I ran into a friend today.  In the courtyard of my apartment complex.  A good guy.

He was with a friend.  Introduced us.

Then he asked me what I was doing.

"I'm writing a screenplay."

I saw him try to disguise his boredom.

Everyone in LA is "writing a screenplay."  Here, that's like saying you breathed last night.  All night.

Don't be boring, Steven.

So I changed the subject. 

"Nice weather we're having." 

The sun beat on our backs.  We both felt good, talking about our lives.

I went back inside.

Sat down at my computer.

Staredat the screen.

Wondered why I'd just spent most of my spring break writing..

                           *     *     *

No matter how much a woman loves children ...

No matter how much she wants them ...

No matter how strong her urge is to have one ...

The actual process of pregnancy and birth makes her question why she ever wanted to have a child.

                          *     *     *

Pregnancy is painful, all consuming, and overly emotional.

It makes a woman question everything, including every perception she's ever had about herself.

Whether she's beautiful.  Whether she's fat.  Whether she's ugly.  Whether her husband -- or her lover -- still ... loves her.

Sometimes she's silly, sometimes wise, sometimes stupid, sometimes empty of all meaningful thought ... except a dogged craving for her sanity and health.

The cycle drains her:  physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

And she can't ever expect a non-mother -- someone who hasn't been through the process -- to understand her.

The way she natters on about it all ... bores them. 

I suspect that only those who have been through the same experience -- other mothers -- can truly understand her.

Not even a husband can be completely understanding.

And giving birth? 


                         *     *     *

Of course, it's what comes after that makes the whole process worth going through. 

Seeing the-most-beautiful-child-in-the-whole-world ...

... take its first breath ...

... walk without help ...

... say mama ...

... kiss you on the cheek ... because he loves his mama.

Is that why mothers don't stop having babies?

Is that why civilization still exists?

                         *     *     *

I now understand why writers compare ...

... the process of writing a story ...

... to going through pregnancy ....

... and giving birth.

                        *     *     *

I haven't seen any of my stories reach the big screen.  Yet.

But I've seen them come to life on the stage.

That feeling of seeing a new story come to life:  take its first breath.

It's a feeling hard to describe.  Even for a wordsmith.

Is that what keeps me going here?

Is that why I just spent my spring break ... mostly alone ... at the keyboard?

Necessarily alone.

                          *     *     *

My mother had eight children. 

I am the fourth.

Four were girls.  

Three have given birth.

I've never understood why they do it..

Until now.

                          *     *     *


I really get it.


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