The Writer’s Process

saint-jerome-writing

Did you know that I’m about to write a brilliant screenplay? Or possibly a novel that will be bought and turned into a screenplay immediately. Oh yeah, it’s going to happen. I’m writing it on lunch break and between 11:00 pm and midnight, after I’m done watching an obscure British detective show (I would tell you about it, but your eyes would glaze over). I’m having some difficulties. I want to write a noir story, but I also want it to be be funny, and I want it to have predominately female roles. But I don’t want to write myself, so I was going to write basically Miss Marple, but unfortunately, I’m not very drawn to her, and it scares me when I am drawn to her. Ok, so maybe I want to write about something that’s really not me. I’m going to write fantasy. I like Game of Thrones, so I’m going to make a more fem-positive version of Game of Thrones. Shit this means I’m going to have to come up with different languages and names with lots of consonants, and I’ve never written a sex scene. Also, I’ll probably have to have a plot, like a real plot.

Ok, I’ve got it. I’ll write what I know. That’s what they always tell you to do, right?! So I’m going to write a brilliant screenplay about a millennial in Los Angeles who’s really confused and doesn’t know what she’s doing with her career and life and that really scares her. Her arc is going to be that she starts off trying to control everything, and eventually she becomes more accepting and relaxed, and she’s far more tolerant and less judgmental of herself and others. But initially everyone’s going to think she’s an asshole, and no one one wants to spend time with all of her neuroses, least of all me while I’m writing her. No one wants to see this movie! Besides everybody’s already writing about themselves. So many whiny, frustrated artists writing about being whiny, frustrated artists. How about some imagination here people?!

I’m going to write about aliens. That’s imaginative. What about struggling artist aliens? That’s different. They’ll land in Silverlake or Brooklyn and immediately become disaffected and really unlucky in love. They will embarrass themselves at a party. Their alien mothership will embarrass them. And that’s all I’ve got. Imagination’s hard.

I know what I’ll do. I’ll write about writing! Writing is hard. And apparently it’s supposed to be hard. This is all part of some sacred artistic process. I can see Cheryl Strayed and Anne Lamott shaking their heads with bemused smiles. “That poor baby writer thinks this is supposed to be easy!” But sometimes it is easy. Sometimes it’s fun. Right now I feel like I’m on hold waiting to talk to a customer service representative who is also my creativity. That metaphor was perhaps more ambitious than the moment called for. What a terribly self-conscious and self-critical time. If I could only start working on my brilliant screenplay that would all change, right?

But unfortunately I’m just writing this, which possibly has pushed me further into meta-thinking. Thinking about thinking. Writing about writing. Not always a terrible exercise, but in this case it’s increasingly masturbatory. Perhaps this counts as a sex scene. The world’s worst sex scene. No one should have to read this. No one should have to experience this except for the writer, alone at night, and then they come up with something and let everyone believe they write seamlessly, fluidly – that’s the nature of their genius. Believe me I wish I could pull that together. But this is all I can manage at the moment. But that will change. Soon I’m going to be writing an Oscar winning screenplay and a bestselling novel.

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