I’ve hit a place with my script where I am in the doldrums. It’s just barely the beginning of week two of Script Frenzy and I’m bored with my script. My characters seem somehow less sparkly and beautiful. They seem flat and lackluster. Every time I sit down in front of my laptop to write, I have pondered the concept of becoming a Script Frenzy rebel and writing a novel instead because, while dialog seems to flow forth from my fingertips, this is my first script. That means only one thing and there is no doubt about this in my mind.
My script sucks.
Before my first NaNo, I had made a previous attempt at novelling and managed to get to 24,000 words on my own. It was a completed piece. It blew and I knew it, but the first one of anything that I write always sucks at least a little and I’m okay with that. That first novella is sitting in my personal slush pile. I think I have a printed copy of it somewhere, but I had forgotten about it entirely until my husband asked me about it a few days ago. I searched my document archives and I was shocked to find that I still had every single draft stored safely on our server.
What I wrote in the summer of 2001 serves as proof that while I can write stuff that sucks, I have the ambition and the drive to see a project through to its end. The problem is, I haven’t finished a single project since then.
A lot of what kept me moving forward during NaNo, was our wonderful MLs. There was a write in nearly every night. If there wasn’t a write in, there was always someone in the chat room ready to word war to keep me motivated. I was heavily dependent upon that to keep me writing and for the last three years that I participated in NaNo, I have won the challenge, but I have not taken a single one of those novels to completion.
I do believe that Script Frenzy has just taught me why.
When I look back on those ridiculous sentences that I put to paper ten years ago, I remember how I felt when I was writing it. I felt whole and complete. When I researched farm equipment so that I could make magical versions of it, I felt like what I was doing had purpose. I felt like *I* had purpose.
During the last three NaNos, my purpose has been to accomplish a very specific task set before me by someone else. I was able to hammer out word after word and chapter after chapter time and again. Sometimes I would get side tracked, but I would hack my way through it to the other side and manage to carve out some prose that seemed to be related to my novel. It was all stream of consciousness chatter though and often, I would find myself working completely off task on some other scene that was being created in a place where it did not belong. Hell, during my first NaNo, I managed to concoct a medieval Japanese Samurai that asked the girl working the Clinique counter at Macy’s out on a date. Figure that one out for me, please.
Amidst all of that noise, I lost sight of what really mattered. I let the story take control and I wrote for its own sake, which can be a really powerful thing at times but, at some point, you have to take the wheel. You have to stop letting the story drive you and force yourself to become the driving force behind your story.
That’s exactly where I’m at right now. We’re at the start of week 2 and I am frustrated and I am angry because I’m only on page 26 and I wanted to be at page 40 by now. Every little thing is a distraction for me. I mean every little thing, from the dogs barking, to the phone ringing, to the wind blowing through the trees outside. Any single one of those things can derail my train of thought and cause me to stop writing for at least an hour before I can get the train rolling again. I have been working on page 27 for almost a week now and that makes me even more crazy.
I want to beat this challenge, but this little story of mine, this little stage play that has been rolling around in my head for years is a lot more important to me than I thought. I realize now, that what I hoped to accomplish here is so much more than to just put down 100 pages worth of dialog, stage direction and scene descriptions. It’s not about sparring with other people or meeting some arbitrary goal, not for me. I could throw out tons of pointless banter about mindless things and get to 100 pages in nothing flat, but I’m not letting my story get away with that this time.
Instead of taking the easy path, I am having to fight this script tooth and nail to keep it on track. I am fighting to save my story. I am arguing with the pointless chatter and carefully sculpting it into something that is not pointless. After all of this battling, I’m still only hoping that I will write something that will have more meaning for me than the napkin I just tossed into the garbage can.
It’s hard, but I’ve done it before. I finished that little novella that I wrote in the summer of 2001, that I thought I had lost completely several computers ago. And yet, somehow, it’s still here. It’s horrible, poorly written, but complete and whole. It’s small and it’s rough, but I fought hard for that story. I had a lot to prove to myself back then, but now things are different.
Now, I know that I can do it again.
So here I go. Page 27… and counting.