where's the play in screenplay?
For some weeks now - how many? four? six? - all I've been doing is working on this screenplay. When I say all I mean - all. There's been nothing else going on. Well, I did spend one week revising the Becker book, but that was the week my collaborator was away and I could afford to go at my own pace. Which maybe just means I could get away with more laxity than I can when we're working together. I don't know. The scenes I wrote in that week don't seem to be any worse than those we nut out together. But it's curious the way that, when the day's work ends, usually around three in the afternoon, I have no appetite, no inclination, to do anything else. I just sit around. Blank as a new page. I don't even think about the day's writing. Occasionally some problem, or solution to a problem, might drift into consciousness but if so, it's certainly not from trying. The opposite rather. It's more like a forgotten piece of a dream coming to light. If I'm writing prose I usually find that all sorts of threads spin out from the day's work, some pertinent, some not. I might hasten back to the document to make a change or an addition or I might go off on some other tangent that seems to require investigation. I like that sense of a constantly evolving inquiry going off in different directions and I miss it now. Miss it badly. Maybe it's just like a job that, once done for the day, demands forgetfulness. Which means perhaps that other kinds of writing I do are not work in that sense, but play. Play of the mind. Most current models for screenplay writing stress the need for total concentration, the marshalling of analytical skills, a fierce pursuit of story or character until you have it, or them, as they say, nailed. I don't read much theory, in any area, it confuses me. So maybe the analogy with dream is better. And maybe this end-of-day exhaustion is of the unconscious. Again I don't know - but I have noticed another kind of exhaustion, that of dream. Every night I've been dreaming at a scarcely sustainable rate. Hectic, intricate, disturbing dreams. I've been waking three or four times a night, just to draw breath; and then, rather than lying awake for half an hour or so to think things through, as I would usually do, I plunge straight back into that strangely complex netherworld. But I don't remember these dreams, or only as fugitive images turning to dust as I try to bring them back to mind. Yesterday was a day off but instead of analysis or reflection or re-reading, I spent it chucking out old stuff from the hard disk - acres of botched or misconceived or finished work, consigned to pixel dust. I thought I'd feel lighter afterwards but I didn't. Now I think I might need to defrag my mind. Couple more days. I'm holding on.