Over the last several years (okay, 12), I have been turning my attention toward writing. It is my first love and it is way more seductive and thoughtful than acting. Over these years I have developed, with varying degrees of success, two novels and several screenplays, most still in some stage of development today. Thing is, if something is not quite ready for publication/filming but not hopeless enough to give up on, what do you do???
My friends know how tenacious I am. If I think or know something is viable but just needs some spit and polish, I’m all for it. Give me the cleaning cloth and I will gather the hork. I will polish till the End of Days. BUT…. but…
I have also seen several drafts of either a novel or screenplay get completely thrown out because of well-intentioned but aggressive polishing. Tossed away, discarded, dismissed, deemed unworthy.
… And then crawled back to on contrite hands and knees as I (or we) realize that there was much of value in that unpolished story. In fact, that old draft was responsible for the original green light/great feedback, so why did it get completely tossed out?
It is a hard lesson. On the one hand, if we are diligent, if we are open, if we are committed and dedicated and savvy, why should we rest on old laurels? Shouldn’t we always be changing and shifting to accommodate the new or the many (other opinions)? And yet on the other hand, if there is life and energy in everything, why not also stand behind the original, the seed, the baby?
Why throw it all out when a little judicious bailing might be more in order?
I’ll tell you why: because sometimes you just don’t know. Sometimes you have to get rid of that water in order to value it. Sometimes the bailing works in reverse—throw it all out, then scoop back in what you need or see now to be essential and valuable.
I can’t help wondering if this doesn’t also apply to life choices––friendships, relationships, work—and not just writing.
Deb: Barb and I had submitted a project we were working on to two possible broadcasters. Although they were both interested and in fairness gave it a great deal of thought, they passed for various reasons. Barb and I had to sit down and honestly examine what it was that did not resonate with them. We had to dissect it and not be precious with it. I will say that we are very good at doing this. We don’t hang onto things if they are not working. But ... at what point do you say, “Hey, this is good. I believe in this. I am not going to give up on it, no matter what people are saying.” It’s hard to know when that time is, isn’t it? And we still struggle with this every single time we put ourselves out there. And we have let go many many times.
But this time we decided that we were not ready to let this particular project go. As a result, we are making a presentation pilot by the good graces of crew I have worked with who believe in us and are giving us a full day of shooting, GRATIS. These are very busy working professionals who are doing this, did I mention––for free. Because they are artists themselves; they support projects and people they believe in. Pretty friggin special, isn’t it? So we are taking the written page and adding images to it, which is as spelled out as we can get. And this time if they don’t bite, we will let it go. But not, as you can see, without a fight.
I find the real-life version of this easier. In life, I am pretty good at knowing when to fold up camp or when to set up camp in someone’s heart or mind. With business, it ain’t so easy. So please wish us luck and stay tuned!