I want to be a writer.
Not just a blog writer. A legitimate “writer writer”.
About a year ago, I decided if this is my goal, I have to commit to larger projects than blog posts.
So, I wrote a screenplay.
I wrote a full-length, 92 page, animated feature film, coming soon to a theater near you! (Insert skeptically raised eyebrow here). In reality, this piece of literature will most likely sit in the repository of my “My Documents” folder until my ten-year-old, hand-me-down laptop decides to cash in its microchips.
This is the kind of turmoil wanna-be writers face. You create something. Maybe it’s a short-story, an essay, a blog post, or a tweet. Perhaps it’s a novel. A screenplay even. You read through the end-product countless times. Half of you thinks it’s incredible. A true original. Something the human world needs to experience.
But the other half knows it’s complete crap.
There’s really no in-between for dreamers like me. It’s black or white. Utterly astonishing or shards of poo on the bottom of a shoe.
For a fleeting moment, I thought my screenplay was in that astonishing category. I had visions of red carpets in my mind and I imagined the star-studded cast that would sign on to do the voices for my characters. I even entered a popular screenplay contest and made the top 10%.
This is precisely when hot air started to rapidly inflate my head. What?! Top 10%? I didn’t even have the right formatting for a screenplay and I made the cut?! Hollywood was within my grasp!
Then reality sunk in, or perhaps the Lord knew I needed some deflating. After including the edits from a few screenplay writers and actors, I submitted my work to Amazon Studios where they are known for helping first time screenwriters break into the business. I was sure they would call me with urgency, begging to buy my script.
All I received was a terse email stating that the “45-day evaluation period had ended and they were not choosing to exercise or extend the option” on my project.
What I once thought astonishing was now the worst piece of writing I’d produced since my second grade report on the family life of Maxi Barbie.
I was on the rollercoaster that is creative work. Because of the effort and time I invested in my screenplay, it had become almost like a physical extension of me. Sadly transforming from a beauty mark brightly shining on the left cheek of my face, to an ugly wart hidden beneath band-aids, clothing, makeup, whatever I could find.
That email from Amazon Studios left me searching for ways to reverse time, or at least erase my memory of all the hours I committed to developing characters and sorting out the drama of Act 2.
I sulked for a few days.
But then I saw a TED talk and everything changed. The lady who was speaking did studies on the most successful people in the U.S. and found one thing in common among all of them. It wasn’t talent, money, attractiveness, or personality.
It was grit.
The people that never give up, despite negative feedback and emotional downturns, end up doing what they want in life.
Thanks to this motivational speech, I’m considering my screenplay a victory. I finished it. 92 pages of a complete story. It may be crap, but maybe it’s crap that leads to less crap. And eventually, somebody somewhere might think it’s not crappy at all.
Then I can officially say I’m a “writer writer”.