I’m very happy to report that my dark and miserable night of the soul is over … at least for today.
It all started in responding to a friendly email from my pal Sheila the playwright, where In the privacy of a private email, I was able to choke out the words and admit what I haven’t been able to admit even to myself:
“Am between rock and hard place (I resist saying ‘death spiral’) with this rewrite of the pilot. Filled with fear and shame. I don’t think like a writer. I’m NOT a writer.”
It seems that those two lines to Sheila were lead that turned to gold. They miraculously jimmied open my psychic log jam and I was able to look squarely at the enemy: I’d described it.
Effortlessly and without thought, within seconds, I was madly googling ‘tv pilots’ and other related terms. It quickly became clear what my problem is and that it’s not uncommon.
a) I’m basically self-taught, work intuitively and have no external criteria. I absolutely love everything I write until I reread it the next day and decide it’s terrible.
b) ’Structure’ has never been my friend. But without any structure to grab on to, it feels like I’m not merely circling but actively going down the drain.
Making episodes of The Louise Log, I got away with working intuitively, without learning any craft. They were short enough and I didn't have to show the scripts to anyone to get financing. For this tv show, I figured that I’d gotten a Get Out Of Jail Free card by lashing myself to my structure-wizard co-writers. They could deal with all that and I could just channel my part of the script.
But after this past month of churning like an egg-beater, writing up a storm, rewriting up a cyclone and coming up with nothing usable, I’ve felt a level of confusion and insecurity I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. To make the leap up to a half hour show, I’m going to take a workmanlike attitude, learn what I can about structure and the craft of television writing and put one word in front of the other. I'll keep you posted.