Thanks to my mother's encouragement, I was an avid reader. I don't even remember starting the habit-- the "read for a half hour before bed" instruction mom gave my sister and I-- and I certainly don't remember considering it a chore. I guess I must have loved it from the start. I loved the stories the characters within them and how they made me feel. So from the time I was about eight years old, I wanted to write a novel myself.
I used to get my mother's typewriter out on the floor and hammer away for hours on end. I probably started four novels before I was in junior high. They never really got much beyond ten pages or so, but I was inevitably pulled back to that keyboard to try again. Convinced I had a voice for writing, and driven by the strange satisfaction I found in watching people read my work, I decided to scale back and write short stories. They were always overly melodramatic and sappy, but I wrote dozens of them. Eventually I even found my way here... writing short stories to you for three years. It has been wonderful and fulfilling, but I still imagined that someday I would graduate (and find the self-discipline) to write a bona-fide, full-size novel.
Okay. So maybe it isn't a novel, but writing this screenplay somehow feels like I'm doing just that. It's certainly my own story, a massive undertaking and I'm operating on pure instinct. There are times when I sit down to write and I just feel empty. Stuck.
Where can I go from here?
Do I have it in me?
Is my premise frail and unable to support a feature-length story?
Am I making it too complicated?
Is it even any good??
Those are the times I would have stopped as a child. I would have become frustrated at the roadblocks and left it at ten pages. I've been really frustrated with the second act, feeling like I didn't know how to take what I'd built in the first act and carry us solidly to the end. I just couldn't come up with an idea that I believed in. But in the last couple of days, I had a breakthrough and an idea that I can't wait to write down. It was so obvious. How could I have missed it before? I've taken about a month longer than I intended to get this first pass down, but I don't care. I want to do it right. I'm doing it for that eight year old me who somehow knew I could long before Hollywood and fancy cameras and fancy dreams.
In honor of one of my favorite screenwriters (and a great show that just came to an end), here is a beautifully written scene that is beautifully performed. I get goosebumps watching this and daydream about writing this well. Let it be as inspirational to you as it is to me.
Take it away Leona...