quit holding back

Last night I read over the treatment I submitted in December as part of the criteria I have to fulfil for the MA. The long break from the material was deliberate: I wanted perspective on it.

There are workable elements within it, but only after a lot of work. I’ll probably go back to the step-outline and re-jig that before embarking upon the first draft of the screenplay. Since that is due in early April, I can’t sit on that task too long. I’m looking forward to writing the script.

I got feedback from our lecturer today on the treatment, most of which was very useful, and reflected my own reservations.

I haven’t received any marks for the work I submitted last semester yet. I know I won’t fail, but at the moment I’m not optimistic for a decent score. It’s probably just my current mood. I’ll find out soon enough.

I’m in a bit of a funk at the moment, partly induced by seeing three particularly fine dramas in a short period of time: The Ice Storm, Ordinary People, and Umberto D. Witnessing such excellent examples of screenwriting is a joy, but also depressing since I’m in the midst of critiquing my work. Ho hum.

One of the things I have to do is mine my work for honesty and truth. By this I mean emotional honesty. To do that you have visit places people naturally avoid. For instance, in the last story fragment there were explicit details I wanted to express, but went for a more oblique approach because this blog is open to all, and because it would require me to wander into dark territories.

I’ve been in those places before, and they are the most fertile parts of a writer’s imagination, but they are also exhausting. I have to brace myself before I step over that threshold. There are days when I can’t do it. I prefer a more objective, distant approach. A handy metaphor for life.

Are you doing, or are you observing?

Most writing really zings when you wade hip-deep into the emotional soup of life and return with a sample jar, containing muddy water and creatures with big eyes and teeth, for the reader.

I’ve got to be more honest in my writing. I have to stop flinching and pulling my punches. I have to look under the bed, and open wide that closet door that creaks in the darkness.

Mostly, I want to pull the heart of my stories out of their chest cavities, take a big fucking bite out of the fluttering, bleeding organ, chew slowly on the muscle, roll the flesh over my tongue and taste every morsel.

Visceral detail. Taut language. And stories that mean something.

It’s not too much to ask, is it?