So there came a time, after Christmas and into the first days of January, when I found myself in kind of a bad place. Always feeling run-down, ill, and completely unable to maintain a positive mood for more than a couple of minutes.
It has been seven years since I’ve had THAT little fun at a New Year’s Eve party.
I think I know what the problem was. See, right at the beginning of this rough patch, I ran out of synthroid, the pill I take to replenish the thyroid hormones that my immune system targets when it could be taking less than four god damn months to get over a cough sorry, sorry, digressed a bit there… anyway, it’s the pill I take every morning so that I have anything approaching a metabolism. I’d had to switch to my hoard of older, lower dose pills while I went through the process of getting a re-up from my physician.
Ugh. See what I did there? I could have just said “I was under-medicated,” but instead I spent an entire paragraph making sure you knew this was a physical ailment, not mental. I don’t know if it was out of fear that people would assume I suffer from depression (which is a crap fear to have, that should be less embarrassing than needing to take pills for my cholesterol), or from not wanting to be one of those people faking a mental illness or disability to get attention or justify crap behaviour (“It’s not my fault, it’s my self-diagnosed Asperger’s”), but… you know what? On January 28th we’re having a conversation about this. But for now I’m moving on.
Getting out of a place
Right around the time I returned to a proper dose of synthroid, I also decided that it was time to stop looking without for solutions to my bad headspace, and look within. It was time to double down on the thing that always made me feel, well, if not always happy, per se, at least satisfied. Writing. Creating. Storytelling. So I threw myself into whatever writing project I could find. I blogged about movies, Oscar-bait or Hobbit-based. I finished a first draft of a short one-act play for a possible anthology show. I took a stab at a skeleton of an outline for a screenplay my Writers’ Circle co-writer and I want to do this year. I felt… calm. Fulfilled. Myself again. Ready to let go of some of the anxieties and bad thoughts that had been dragging me down. Not all of them, no, it was a three small writing projects, let’s not ask them to work miracles, but still, a start.
Of course, then my projects all hit the usual wall: the wall of needing someone else’s input. The short play was done (for now), I’d gotten as far as I could on the outline without input from my co-writer, and I was back to blogging about old plays. I wanted more. Writing, creating, this was my way out, and I wasn’t ready to stop, sit back, and play Assassin’s Creed until it was time to do a new draft of something.
I needed a new project. And, yes, sure, there are some ongoing projects I could have been paying attention to, at least I think there are, I haven’t checked in a lot lately, but… something got into my head.
An old idea. One I’d cast aside a long time ago, but found that there were aspects I didn’t hate. Sure, nearly a decade ago, I couldn’t pull it off, certainly not for the stage. This wouldn’t be a dust-off or a quick polish job. This would be, if anything, only slightly less drastic than the process that turned Jade Monkey into Tyler and Selena. And it would be easy to look at everything else I’m doing, stage, internet, and possibly screen, and say… why bother? Leave it in the past. Move on to the next thing. But first, as we established, all of my “next things” are waiting on workshops, other feedback, or meetings with partners. And second…
There was one scene. One scene that I felt should have been the turning point. Where the protagonist finds his first taste of redemption, where the character I wanted to be the Kaylee-from-Firefly of the cast (the sweet one whose affection for the main character tells us we can like said character as well) is rewarded at long last. And in my first attempt… it failed. It failed as purely and utterly as everything else I tried to do with that story.
And that started to stick in my craw a little.
I didn’t want this scene to be awful. I thought there was potential for a moment of beauty here. A moment where the joy of the characters could seep through to the audience. And maybe I’m wrong, maybe that moment’s impossible, but damn it, I could get closer to it than this. And I wanted to at least try to see it realized.
And that notion lingered. How this moment could be improved. It grew from a “what if” into one of those things, where the only way to exorcise the idea from my mind was to write it down. So I decided… take a crack at it. Write that one scene. See how it turns out. And if you think it’s closer to the effect you wanted… keep going.
That was a few days back. I’m still at it.
Friends old and new
There is something… liberating about this project, for the simple reason that I’m not writing it for anything. It’s not a stage play. Scorpio Theatre needs not worry or care about it. It’s written to be filmed, but I haven’t picked a medium. If it’s not too long, maybe it’s a movie. If it keeps stretching, maybe it’s a series. I don’t know and it doesn’t yet matter. I’m just… writing it until I feel it’s written. There’s miles to go and mountains to climb before it’s even worth thinking about rolling cameras. Couldn’t begin to afford it now, have other things I want to do first if we start convincing people to give us money to make things. I’m writing it for the joy. For the rush. For the indescribable way the characters become like friends, and the pleasure of spending time in their world.
That’s when writing stops being a chore and becomes a passion. As, one by one, the cast becomes people I like, that I care about, that I want to see triumph. Well, after I’m done being awful to them in the name of the story. First things first.
It’s been a good feeling. Good enough that I’m not even sweating the fact that eventually I’ll be done, and will have to deal with wanting to do something with it, yet being largely unable to. Or the fact that despite throwing out every word of the first draft and starting over on a white piece of paper, there might be enough flaws in the basic premise that it can’t be saved. I’ll cross those bridges when I come to them.
For now, it’s just nice to be tinkering away, spending time with friends old and new, hoping that nobody thinks the amount of time I’m spending at home with my computer and DVDs is a bad sign and threatens an intervention.
Thought a “here’s the writing projects taking all of my time” post would be a better than a “here’s why there hasn’t been a blog in three weeks” post, which has been my usual approach.
‘Till next time, then.