November 26, 2009 by jamesessj
Finished the first draft of “The Cemetery.”
What to write next? The great advantage of screenplays — again, following whatever transmogrification occurred that allowed me actually to finish a project — is that they go relatively quickly. My one gift as a writer (well, one of two, and this is self-analysis, meaning it’s likely way, way, way off the mark) is dialogue, and screenplays, in general, don’t require great gobs of narration or description, but they do on occasion (especially the way I write ’em) require great gobs of dialogue.
I have a few projects in mind…one is “Great American,” based off a novella I never finished but always liked. Another is “True Prophet,” yet another of my eternally-gestating ideas (this one also goes back to 1990), based on my brief experience in the world of the high school teacher. Another is “Remember That You Love Me,” which would be the longest-gestating idea in the history of ideas, given that it’s based on my family’s life in Ghana, West Africa, in the late 70’s, and also my father’s death in 2003; but it’s a complex story, shooting back and forth in time, and I have notions of its being my magnum opus…and as much confidence as I’ve gained from finishing four screenplays in three months, I’m not sure I’m quite ready to tackle this idea just yet.
Then there is — “Ismene.” Not a screenplay, but a stage play — the idea for which also dates back a fair piece, to 1988, when I took a History of Theatre course at Fresno Pacific College and read Sophocles for the first time. I was always fascinated by the character of Ismene in the Oedipus trilogy, particularly in (obviously) Antigone — she’s the conservative to Antigone’s liberal, the follower of law to Antigone’s follower of conscience. (I always found the Prodigal Son’s stay-at-home brother a lot more interesting than the Prodigal Son, as well.) Antigone’s sad yet heroic fate is well-known, but Ismene disappears, never to be heard from again…as the sole remaining member of the Oedipal clan, I think she’s more than deserving of a play of her own, and it’s high time somebody wrote one.
Of course I’ve thought that for 21 years, so “high time” is used relatively.
I’m giving myself a couple of days off for R&R, and then it’s back to work…it’s great to know that I can start something with a reasonable expectation of finishing it before I die, and I’m enormously excited about writing — creating — doing the work.
Now if somebody would just pay me for it.