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Especially for those ideas that are bubbling up in your mind and want to grow, develop NOW, because it’s time! Crap!
Just when you have come to the realization that the writing process of the screenplay is not going to go as fast as you thought or felt it should and have made peace with that it will grow slower alongside the DIY film school, you have a lovely coffee date with a friend and you update her about what’s going on with the school and also the writing journey and decide to tell her about your idea for the story, unknowingly sabotaging your lovely slow plan.
It was the very first time that I shared the story idea with anyone. Cue in that thing about fear and your pants and stuff. I think I wanted to tell someone now, perhaps to test whether what I had in my head was even remotely ok. And whether I was able to tell her the overall story a bit and what it sounded like ‘out loud’. Another friend was mentioning that in a text. That she had an idea for me for the film school and then said ‘let’s see what it sounds like ‘out loud’’. And I immediately understood what she meant.
As I started to share the story, I immediately started to look at her facial expressions, including those almost-not-consciously-able-to-influence micro-expressions and other non-verbal communication. The last thing I need is one of those verbal encouragements like ‘sounds great and keep up with the good work’, while the micro-expressions clearly state the opposite. This is no time to be polite. How I hate hearing those candidates on singing contests say how much their family & friends love their singing and they don’t understand why the jury won’t let them go through, while clearly they can’t sing. Stop being polite in those cases, people. This isn’t about the pair of pants they are wearing or their strange new haircut. This is their dream that they want to pursue, beyond anything else. Lying isn’t going to help them. Of course my friend isn’t a trained expert in the field, but then again she is. We all are. We are more experts at storytelling than we are consciously aware of. Starting at a very young age. I remember a few years back a friend’s 5-year-old daughter was watching an animated movie at my house and after about 15 minutes in, she turned to me and said (and I kid you not): ‘when does the story start?’. And although this particular movie has some fun features, she was right about it not having a real storyline and I knew that too, but because she had gotten a bit scared of the grasshoppers in A Bug’s Life (1998), I figured I put on a movie with no real villains and just some fun stuff. A big lesson from this 5-year-old that I keep in the back of my mind until this day. Story is key and we are all experts at discovering it. Luckily for me, my friend’s micro-expressions were in my favour and she immediately started to think with me, wanting to know more about the story, the characters’ mindset and already empathically wondering how it would end and was also relating to their relationship, which is always a good thing of course. During our conversation the characters started to come alive, right there in front of me. I was very relieved by her responses as you can imagine, but I think so was she by the looks of it. As much as this was sort of a test for me, so was it for her. I know I would be relieved if an artistic friend reveals some of their work and it looks or sounds…pretty good. Because even though lying won’t help them, if it’s really crap, you still want to keep your friendship with them, but also try to help them be realistic about their potential, in a friendly kind of way.
So, hurray, right? Wrong. This now ignited a problem. Because all this talking about the story awakened that part that I was desperately trying to let grow slowly. I wanted to slow-cook, remember? There was no flow! Hadn’t we agreed upon this? But you poke in the wrong – or actually right – spot and kaboom, you have hit a geyser. Where are my buckets?!
That evening more ideas about the story already started to come to the surface, but the next day turned out to be really momentous. Even more than February 1st . In the morning I’m making my breakfast and like always when doing ‘manual tasks’ like this or doing dishes or laundry or brushing your teeth or other business in the bathroom, your mind is free to roam. And the entire opening sequence of the story starts playing in my head. It’s like I’ve put on a film and pressed play. And then another scene I see in my mind. One of the final scenes, actually the penultimate climax (the one before the final climax of the story) and wonder if I should make that the opening sequence of the story. Then, after breakfast, I decide to obey ‘the inspiration’, although nervous of the outcome, and to sit down and write it out, what just played in my mind, the whole thing. Including actions and looks and ponderings and dialogue and what not. And all of sudden I was there. In that famous flow. But it was more than that. Not only am I being propelled back to the feeling I had during my short stage plays writing times, a long time ago, all of a sudden I am also 7 years old again. The 7-year-old that started writing stories as soon as she could write, because she had loved stories since she could remember. The 7-year-old I always knew was there and no matter how many detours I took & little visits I made, never disappeared. Desperately hoping I’d be back, finally giving in for real to what feels so normal, so natural to me. I don’t think I lost it. I think it was stored, kept in a safe place, always available when I wanted to continue with it, keep developing it, but it will feel a little rusty when you haven’t exercised for a long time. This is why they say ‘write every day’. To get it going again, like an old steam train.
This is a daring post. Because what I am saying? That I’m a natural talent and therefore will be able to write good stuff? No. My excitement comes from finding something I thought I lost, didn’t have anymore, because it had been put aside for so long. Not the talent in itself, because there is no guarantee for success in it, but the love for it, the passion, that goes to your core, that gives you goosebumps and ignites fire within you, a natural fuel. I had forgotten what this felt like and if it was even possible again, that familiar homecoming feeling. That sweet spot. I know most of us can relate to the search of that. In anything.
That a talent in itself isn’t enough for success, is becoming very clear in the fantastic book I have in my personal library called ‘Talent Is Never Enough’ by John C. Maxwell. I have read a lot of it already a few years back, but have forgotten a lot as well, because I was unsure about the talent bit. And it basically talks about the many attributes you need to maximize your potential, talent and just having a certain talent itself is only the beginning to successfully using it. We’ll have to dive into this again as well.
So, here we are. It’s weird. I have to get used to this feeling again. It’s like I’ve been gained access again to a familiar land, but still suffering from some kind of jetlag, having been gone so long and travelling from afar. The image I also had in my mind is that I have stood by a deeper pool for so long. And over the past couple of years have gained many tools to help me swim in it, but still afraid to dive in. This is a deeper pool after all. What if I can’t? But how do I know if I don’t jump in? And you have swam before. And how can you use the tools if you aren’t swimming? How can you sail if the ship stays in the harbour, and all those kinds of examples. So, I’m in. I’m sailing. It’s a good start again.
Which brings us back to last week’s conclusion, about taking it slow and giving the DIY film school priority and such. And setting some 3 month goals. What to do with that now. Well, as happy as I am with this development, and I am really, and as much energy and a confidence boost it is giving me, I am going to keep it in some constraint, so I can keep on containing it and it doesn’t run off with me. I see the pool again and the sailboat. It is wise not to just keep on swimming and sailing, but taking enough rest as well and stocking up, replenishing, looking into the tools and how-to-sail book and also having some variation in your day, doing something else too. Your brain likes that.
Goals for this screenplay: by June 21, 2016, in 3 months, the sort of official start of summer, I want to:
- have figured out, written out & fallen in love with my main characters, know who they are, including the internal forces of antagonism.
- have the story written out in general sequences, no specific scene details yet, knowing the inciting incident, the central plot, subplots, climax and resolution.
- anything else is a bonus, because I am keeping up with the rest of my DIY film school, which will only improve the screenplay with the gazillion ideas & lessons that come from that.
Quite a growth spurt this past week. I need a vacation, man! Sleep off that jetlag. But very excited to be at this place again.