story conference

A Stormy Story Conference on the Rewrite for the Pilot Episode of the TV Series based on The Louise Log

patiently transcribing Mr. Green's notes on the rewrite

patiently transcribing Mr. Green's notes on the rewrite

I’ve been nose to the grindstone this week working in a very focused and disciplined way on the rewrite. And this is thanks, in large part, to the excellent suggestions you made on the fb feed last Friday. Thank you again!  I had some bonafide breakthroughs and am feeling very very excited, so much so that I've recently switched songs and am now listening to The Cranberries’ Zombie on repeat.

One of my co-writers, Mr. Green, (who actually is kind of overworked) carved out the time tonight to read the draft and to sit down with me to discuss it.

I asked him for a simple summary of his reaction to the new draft. He obliged me.

 “It’s very much closer and is a lot funnier.” I asked him to elaborate. “No I can’t do that.”

He's very good with the boundaries, a fact which sometimes angers me.

“I don’t like your attitude.”
“Well I don’t like YOUR attitude!”

We managed to make it through all twenty-nine pages, me carefully taking notes on every one of his (often excellent) suggestions. And then Mr. Green pushed me over the edge. He asked if I’d ‘make a deal’. Having been married for a while, I knew where he was headed.

All week, in gratitude for the time and energy he was eventually going to give to this story conference, I’ve been catering to Mr. Green, peeling his oranges and even accompanying him today on one very long and boring errand. His ‘deals’ usually have something to do with chocolate. Tonight I flatly denied him. No deal. I didn’t even want to hear the terms.

Knowing that this was going to be the subject of tonight’s still unwritten blog, Mr. Green responded: “Well you know what? Everybody’s going to feel sorry for me and you’re going to get a lot of comments because my wife won’t walk to the store with me to get a little piece of chocolate. Imagine! A husband can’t get his wife to take a walk around the corner to satisfy his chocolate addiction.” 

Mr. Green likes to say things two times.

Sometimes I have to make hissing cat noises to hold my ground with Mr. Green.

Sometimes I have to make hissing cat noises to hold my ground with Mr. Green.

Recognizing my Denial in Trying to Write this Show for Television

I have a problem with denial and I'm sorry, dear reader, that with this blog, I drag you right into that pit with me.

In my ‘post-story conference’ blog last Friday, I neglected to mention that one of my co-writers had initially pronounced the most recent draft “very good” (emphasis on the ‘very’ ... and said with feeling). Naturally this went to my head. I’d forgotten just how kind and diplomatic he can be.

So it came as a bit of a surprise that after the two hour conference, I heard the words: “You’re looking at a major rewrite, kiddo.”

With my huge capacity for denial, I shrugged that right off: “Oh I’ll knock it off this week!” Who wants to be bent over a keyboard and reams of scrap paper with my Writing The Natural Way doodles for even that long!

In heavy denial

In heavy denial

So here we are, one week later and I’m realizing why I spent my childhood walking on my hands and climbing trees. Constitutionally and temperamentally, I’m better suited to physical labor than to working at a desk. Give me a physical challenge and I can usually figure out how to tackle it. The same is not true for the non-physical. I feel lost, out of my depth and both frantic and lethargic.

In a blinding insight on exiting the supermarket, I realized that I’d had the same reaction to cutting the highlights reel and to writing the pitch. I start off with great enthusiasm and a wildly unrealistic idea that I’ll ‘knock this off’. The highlights reel ended up taking almost a year and a half. I can’t even bear to figure out how long the pitch took.

Fortunately, while dragging my heels back to my desk, inspiration alighted. Nancy Baker, the brilliant film editor who did the unimaginable job of lifting the movie Harlan County USA out of the hundreds of hours of 16mm footage shot in the hope of making it, once shared this simple tip.  (paraphrasing) << A lot of the job of film editing is sitting watching the footage go forward and backward, forward and backward … until you get an idea of what to do.>>

Impatience is not my friend in tackling mental jobs. To sit at a desk feeling lost and frightened, asking questions and waiting for answers is harder for me than digging a ditch.

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