My husband and I have noticed that many of our peers do not quite “get how we work,” referring to our marriage.  Some of this may be our personalities, but our professional differences are confusing as well.  He works in a land of make-believe; I work in the land of all-too-real.   But, we have more in common with each other than what is seen at first glance:

  • We love images (art, photography, moving pictures, etc.)
  • We love small town America; we live in a small town and delight in her micro-culture
  • We love collaboration–working on a team that pools its resources and creates a masterpiece
  • We love a very wide variety of music
  • We love stories and people (each person has a unique experience in this world)

So recently, I have traded my world for his . . . and when my husband came home from a 14-hour day on set, I announced I had begun writing a screenplay.

Oh, really?

Yup. I already have the first few pages done.
It’s sort of a coming of age story.

Husband reaches for the stack of paper and starts to read, flipping between pages, making mental notes. After several minutes of silence he responds.

I didn’t know you had it in you! This is better
than the last ten scripts I’ve read for work!
I already have a distinct mental image of these characters.

What do you mean you didn’t know I had it in me?

Wife shoots husband a disgusted look.

I mean, I always knew you were creative, but this
flows really well!

-Later-                              HUSBAND

Well, I am giving you a goal: have it finished by Christmas. That will force you to stay disciplined.

And, off I go on this new adventure.  I have always enjoyed writing, but this is a new experience for me.  In truth, so far I have found the story is developing very naturally, though I know the roadblocks are coming.  I have been jotting down names, phrases, bits of stories and backgrounds of characters into a small, silver journal.  Then, I type away with the journal propped on one pile of scripts from various film jobs and a cup of coffee teetering on another stack (to be used for format examples).  So far, I have consumed several pots of high-test and typed about ten pages.  A few nights ago, I sketched a brief synopsis of the ending.  Now I must fill in the twists of the story–admittedly, the biggest challenge.

My story is set in Summers County, West Virginia in the 1960’s, and I have completed a significant amount of research on the culture, geography and era.  This is the land of the legend of John Henry–the beautiful but financially strapped home of miners, laborers and railroad workers.  Today a book on Summers County arrived in my mailbox, and I can hardly stand the wait until I can highlight and mark up the pages with my thoughts. My characters are developing nicely on paper, but I think to get a realistic sense of their world, I will have to take a long weekend to Summers County (any excuse for a road trip, right?).

Christmas is less than six months away (21 weeks).  On a productive evening, I have been turning out two pages in about three hours.  A typical script is 90-120 pages in length.  I am aiming for 100 pages, or roughly five pages per week.  When my characters have told their story, I plan to submit the screenplay to the Nicholls Fellowships competition.

Why not?