November 22, 2009 by jamesessj
I’m not getting better and better. In fact a strong argument could be made that I’m getting worse and worse. But writerly speaking — I do feel as if I’ve broken through some sort of barricade, some ceiling, some wall (basically, some sort of restraining edifice), the existence of which I had not previously understood or even recognized; and now that I am on the other side, I am doing the best work of what-passes-for-my-career.
Why is this? I haven’t a clue. I’m afraid to dissect it too closely, or it may reverse itself and I’ll go back to writing plays for my dad’s eighth-grade class. (True story, the second and last play of mine ever staged — the first was for our church, circa 1985, and included the immortal line, “Be careful who you step on on the way up, because they’ll be waiting for you on the way down” — and one of the few pieces of writing I’ve done of which I no longer have a copy…as I recall, it wasn’t half-bad, but that still leaves room for up to 49% bad, which when you think about it is pretty high.) But whatever the reason for this dramatic breakthrough (or this drama breakthrough, ha ha), it is real and I am grateful to…myself, I guess…for its having happened.
As an example, I have finished, in the last three months, no less than three first draft screenplays. And I’m close to finishing a fourth. This after not having finished a screenplay in…let’s see…carry the six…subtract the two…oh, I don’t know. A long time. At least ten years. Now, granted, much of that time was spent working on different types of projects than screenplays (novels, plays, short stories, etc.), but still — three? In less than three months? As Bert the chimney sweep said, “Outrageous!”
I don’t say this to brag, although that is a nice byproduct of my saying this, I say it rather as encouragement to all those of us who have a dream that hasn’t yet come true: keep at it. This is only one more step down the road toward success, admittedly, but it’s better than walking backwards, or falling down, or taking a side road that leads to writing plays for your dad’s eighth-grade class.
Things — if not we — will get better.