19 May 2010

What ScriptFrenzy Taught Me

During the month of April, there were a lot of bleary-eyed, caffeine infused, panic stricken writers all across the world. We typed when we should have been working, we typed when we should have been cooking, we even typed when we should have been cleaning out the litter box (gasp)! Was it for glory, for fame, for fortune? No. It was for one,very simple reason: to have, at the end of 30 days of frantic writing, a 100+ page script.

And I finished.

Now before you oooooh and aaaaah and throw heaps of flowers and Mardi Gras beads in my direction, let me clarify "finished". There is, at this very moment, a 109 page script-like substance sitting in the confines of the inner labyrinth of my computer. I haven't looked at it in weeks, not since I finished it. I say "script-like" because it's not technically correct. Its got dialogue, scene cuts, bold type and strange formatting but if I handed it to Spielberg tomorrow he'd probably run screaming from the pile of papers in my hands.

Don't get me wrong. I'm very proud of myself for finishing. It's the first time in a looong time I've finished that many pages much less actually finished a manuscript of any type. I have a nice, loose, pathetic script just waiting for me to edit and polish it. More than that, I have learned something very, very important about myself in the process.
I am not a script writer.

And I'm perfectly ok with that.

Most of what we as writer's do, in the beginning, is fumble around with genre and voice, habit and discipline. Yes, I'm still in the beginning stages. I've been writing, seriously with the thought of eventual publication in the back of my head, for fourteen years. It's been an off and on, love/hate process, but ongoing. Habit and discipline I struggle with. Current situations are not conducive to an ideal writing schedule (lame excuse, but true). Habit? Well, I write when I can. When I have the energy. I tend to beat myself up over this but I'm learning to ease up and take it as it comes. Voice? That's coming, finally, after many moons of typing words and writing things that feel choked and stifled. Voice is emerging and it's a timid thing indeed. As for genre? Well, that's emerging as well. Not so timid. More...cautious for the simple fact they (yes, they) aren't the most popular fish in the barrel. And I'm cool with that. Actually, I"m relieved. But I also have my work cut out for me, researching, hunting down books in those genres and reading, devouring, studying the "masters".

ScriptFrenzy taught me I'm not a script writer. It brought out a strange, ethereal voice that I've been afraid of and a genre possibility I've been dodging. In fact, it inspired two other stories, one of which I'm working on now. Sorry, it doesn't have a title yet. I'm terrible at those things. It will come, though. Probably when it's almost finished...

Have you ever done anything that completely shifted your perception of yourself as a writer? Did you come away relieved, as I did? Or frightened, as I did? Intimidated? Wary? Lost? Yes, again, as I did.


PS: A big HELLO to my new followers! I see you down there! Sorry I haven't had a spare moment to come by and say hello properly. But I shall. Thanks for following!


Karen Walker said...

Ooh, this is such a tease, Jen. What new genre? Guess you'll share when you're ready. I am in just such a process now, shifting from nonfiction to fiction. It is an entirely new world and one I feel like an alien in.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I've been bold with topic choice. I adore your voice. It has emerged!
~ Wendy

Jen Chandler said...

Karen, I will talk about genre more, I promise. It's a strange new land for me :)

Wendy, thank you ever so much! :)

Kristi said...

Oh Jen, how I love your voice! It comes through even in your blog posts and makes anything you write a joy to read! Do you know that about yourself? You must. But maybe not. So I just wanted to let you know. :-)

What a terrific journey for you! I love that the script-writing not only brought about a definite "this is not me" moment, but a definite idea of what IS you.

Congrats and best of luck with your new genre! I can't wait to hear more about it.

Brian Miller said...

good for you. i am always trying out new things just to see if it works, if i like it, or if its not for me...

Jen Chandler said...

Kristi - Thanks! I'm still working on the confidence in writing thing so your comment made me smile.

Brian - That's the only way I've ever been able to figure out where I belong :) Try it out and move along.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

My current story began as a picture book. I see myself as a PB writer. The problem is that the story did not want to be PB. It has become a full-fledged chapter book, and no one is more surprised than me. Even more surprising to me is that it's a pretty great story. :-)

Helen Ginger said...

I took a course on script writing and it was helpful for my fiction writing. I did finish a script, although, like you, I don't call myself a script writer!

Straight From Hel

Tabitha Bird said...

I write fiction and non-fiction, but I am more comfortable with the non-fiction stuff.

Congrats on the script and I am thrown flowers and Mardi Gras beads :) That is awesome :)

Stephanie Faris said...

Congrats. That's such a great feeling!

Mary Aalgaard said...

I love it that you fleshed out a story in dialogue form within a month. Also, you know yourself better as a writer because of that journey. I'm still plugging away at my drama. I am a scriptwriter. It feels like a comfy pair of jeans, but I do need to sit down in them, at my fave coffee shop, and keep on typing!