Can I be honest with you? After completely zeroing out on all the contests this year (the first time that’s EVER happened since I started this whole screenwriting pursuit), I was ready to totally give up on writing. I had excuses. I have a full-time day job. I spend another 10-15 hours a week (sometimes more) on freelance work. And there’s that little item about getting ready to have a kiddo in 5 months. It would have been easy to justify giving up on writing for myself and my own dreams.
Except when it is your dream, what you feel put here to do, you just can’t. Not without sacrificing a part of who you are.
And so after a good eight hours of teary-eyed existential crisis and a good talking down by my boyfriend, I started thinking about what to do next. I definitely wasn’t ready to start anything new. I knew I could reach out to a few people for notes and thoughts on scripts I’d already written. And I knew I could focus some energy on finishing my short film that’s been in post-production for something terribly embarrassing like a year and half now.
And then LEON stumbled into my life by way of a link to an open writing assignment for Amazon Studios. I’ve historically had mixed feelings (like much of the screenwriting community) about Amazon Studios’ spec opportunities, but the terms of the OWA looked inviting, and it was a relief to be able to focus on a story that didn’t come directly from my own heart and soul. And I figured, if nothing comes of it, it’s good practice in writing a treatment and learning how to respond to OWAs, in case I ever do make it anywhere in the industry.
An actual scene from Ditty Writes a Treatment. Because writing treatments (just like screenplays) includes taking breaks to take instagram photos of your coffee and iPad and notebook. (And if you’re wondering, that is a Venti Decaf Nonfat Half-Pumpkin Spice, Half-Sugar-Free-Cinnamon Dolce Latte, which I’ve earned the privilege of ordering without enduring massive barista hate by ordering plain coffee for something like 700 days out of the past two years. Pay your dues, folks. Pay your dues.)
I’ve never been a fan of treatments for my own specs. It always seemed like my time would be better spent outlining and then actually writing the thing. But I did enjoy the process of creating a narrative version of my take on the script, and I think it’s a nice way to work out a story you don’t really know too well yet, as well as a story you’re not quite sure how to fix at first glance. So now that’s submitted, and I’m back to staring at my own projects.
So, here are my goals for now through the arrival of the stork.
NaNoWriMo in November. – It’ll be Year 8 for me, which is ridiculous, and also makes me feel like I can’t quit now despite everything going on. Besides, the No. 1 rule of NaNo is there’s always someone busier than you. Plus I’ve got a story up my sleeve I’ve always thought would make an excellent screenplay (in fact, I’m baffled it’s not been done before), so it’s a good chance to do a super thorough treatment version of that.
Finish post-production on STILL. – If I don’t finish this thing before the baby is born, then I just don’t know, guys. Post-production is hard. I’m really not a fan of it. But it’s kind of a necessary evil if you actually want to show people your film, which I do. I’m hoping the Independent Filmmaker Track at the Austin Film Festival will both give me some inspiration as well as some practical tactics on how to make this process go more smoothly in the future. (Tip No. 1: If you don’t like doing post-production, maybe recruit someone who actually does.)
Choose a script to write whilst on maternity leave. – Now, this may seem kind of nuts, and it may be kind of nuts, but I’m going to have 8 to 9 more hours in the day than I’m used to having. If even three-quarters of that is taken up by the kiddo, then I’m still coming out ahead. I know folks who have done it and more, so I’m going to do what I can. (Alternate goal: Plan and shoot another short film, which I think is the crazier option of the two.)
And that’s it. Not so bad. Leaves plenty of time for the pregnancy-induced mania* that’s starting to hit. I’m not going to admit how much time I spent on Pinterest today. But I also spent a couple of hours on a screenwriting project today, and I’m going to call that a triumph, my friends.
*I am not a bird and thus refuse to call it “nesting.” Come on, people.