By Shaffique Jamal
In my last post I spoke to the new writer starting their first draft, in this post I’ll be talking about the inevitable rewrite.
So you finished, you have a first draft; mazel tov. If this were 2 years ago, you’d have printed it out, bound it up and held it in your hands; do it, it’s a lot weightier than a PDF, you’ve created something tangible.
What to do with the screenplay now? Well I’ve asked, cajoled, pleaded, coerced and threatened families. People have agreed to read it and give feedback. Don’t get me wrong it’s nice to hear that it was enjoyed but there’s something really unhelpful about only hearing “That was really good, I liked” because the conversation (and it should be a conversation) can end there. Don’t spare my feelings, I want to hear what you really think. Often I hope that they dislike it, so they don’t told back and I’m left with something work from.
I didn’t really threaten anyone’s family but there was a kidnaping, I’m being held hostage. A captive of my own choosing. It feels like an age; I haven’t heard back from them yet, they must hate it.
While I was writing the screenplay it had come to define me, I was part of a couple and like a sudden breakup, I still have habitual feelings but no outlet. I want to write something, start again with something new or continue on the old path but really I have to wait … and I hate the waiting.
Something occurs to me, a niggling feeling; I make the mistake of reading it through again. There’s an inconsistency that probably only I can readily see, I’m sure those typos just appeared, they weren’t there in the last read.
I hate it now. How could I have sent it out to anyone to read? I’ve asked people for their time and effort but then again, I liked it when I sent it to them, I should trust that feeling. I hate this waiting.
While I’m writing there are times when I’m meant to be writing but also when I’m actually writing and it can be obsessive. Deadlines are good, gives me a focus point. When I’m not writing I give myself tasks to do where writing becomes the preferred option. When I am writing I tend to neglect everything else. I’m not a multiple plate-spinner, more of a dog with a bone; the problem with this can be boredom. I can’t finish too soon or I’m left with a cavernous feeling, or too late makes me frustrated. I’m learning and evolving my process.
Wait! You tricked me, I thought this was meant to be about rewriting? It starts here; do you feel the angst, welcome to no-man’s-land.
If you’re rewriting immediately after completing your first draft, I have bad news for you. You never really finished it.
This was just Part 1, our time is up but you need something to help bide your time until the feedback returns in drips and drabs. While you were writing (during the obsessive periods), something came to you, it wasn’t part if that story and you dismissed it but it didn’t really go away. Explore the idea, it asked for your attention; maybe it was just a flicker, maybe it was something real, right now it can be a welcomed distraction.