Angst on Paper
When I was a freshman in high school I remember writing a short story about kid that was injured during a big football game. It was the first time I had really put a story on paper and I was very excited about it so I gave it to my parents to read. I'll never forget my mother's reaction.
"Please tell me you're not going to turn this in," she said curtly.
We proceeded to argue the merits of my story, which was laced with some minor league profanity and contained a scene of a young couple parking. She doesn't remember this moment at all; neither does my father for that matter, but their initial reaction of shock and dismay probably set my writing career back a full decade.
That and a wretched girl named Emily... and a neurotic one named Jennifer... but I digress.
When people who know me read something I've written, they most frequently respond in a similar manner. Obviously there's a proverbial dark side lurking inside me and it tends to throw people aback when they compare it to the kind of life I actually now lead. This is something I've never really been able to explain to myself, much less to anyone else, but it all comes back to this--almost everything I write has a distinct element of truth.
Sometimes the stories are based on situations and events that happened to me, other times the characters are based on people I know, and more often than not, those characters become all too vividly real.
It's interesting to me when people say, "Okay, but that scene right there could never really happen." Invariably they say it in regards to something that really did.
This is something I've wrestled with for years, knowing fully well that if any of my material actually finds its way to film, there will probably be serious repercussions, including the shock and awe of family and friends and perhaps a good old-fashioned excommunication by my religious peers.
The fact that my wife has come on board has made all the difference in my life. In fact, that's probably why I married her. I gave here some of my stuff to read and sat back patiently awaiting her reaction. I even gave her time to process it and all that the changes it could mean to her life if she stayed with me when some of my stuff finally made it to film.
You have to understand something here--this was no small decision. First, she realized that I actually had talent and that my future as a writer was much more than a pipe dream. Perhaps it was inevitable. Second, she came to see all the possible ramifications of my success. And third, she decided that was something she could live with.
Having somebody that believes in you (and there's more out there than just my wife these days) is imperative in this business because talent doesn't pay the bills.
I keep a journal (I recommend that every aspiring filmmaker, storyteller, and writer keep one) and as I was looking back on my goals for 2005 I realize that I had achieved 60% of them. Now that makes 2005 a banner year and the turning point in my career. I sold an option on a screeplay, formed a production company, and we're moving ahead with our plans to shoot it in the fall of 2006.
As I look ahead to what it will mean when this film is complete, I more frightened of success than I am failure. If it succeeds, it will open up a whole new can of worms (so to speak) that I'm not too sure I'm ready to deal with just yet. My life had changed so drastically it bears little resemblance to the people I've known and the places I have been. But my writing comes from those dark days, and so, there will be many that didn't know me when that will react with shock and dismay.
To them, I apologize in advance. Sorry to disappoint.