Monday, February 25, 2008

Flu Thoughts

Last week, I was working on deadline to finish a screenplay in time for a regularly scheduled group who had very generously agreed to read and review it. I was working on a tight schedule, trying to get a workable draft done when -- the Flu hit.

So, for three days, I sat on the couch with my eyes closed (because every time I opened them, the room spun, and that wasn't as much fun as it might sound). It was awful. In addition to the pressure in my head from the Ick Bug, I could hear the ticking of the clock as time ebbed away and the deadline loomed closer... and closer...

It's not like I was lacking inspiration. I had all the beats of the story worked out. I knew exactly what happened next. I just had to write it. And I sat with my laptop on my knees, feeling exceedingly sorry for myself.

In the midst of the Ick Bug's visit, I had a speaking engagement last Monday night that -- somehow -- I got through. I think it went well. I was prepared for it, but I'm not delusional. I know that I wasn't on top of my game. The flu does that to you.

The upshot is: the flu symptoms subsided, the room stopped spinning, I opened my eyes again, and got back to work. I finished the screenplay on time and it's GOOD. I'm extremely happy with it. So happy, in fact, that I'm going to stick with the story for awhile and work it into a book. I sent it off on Friday for the readers to rend to shreds.

A few comments on readers' groups... Every writer's dream is that readers will tell you how brilliant your work is, how fascinated they were with the story and the characters, and how they wouldn't change a thing. This dream, of course, never becomes reality.

The trick is to know you've done everything you possibly can to be true to your original vision, and to be open to any comments that may come along that would make that vision stronger or help you better execute it. It's also important to remember that writers feel honor-bound to make changes to other people's work. It's like the unwritten Writer's Creed: Read. Critique. Alter.

It was a welcome rush to finish the project on Friday. All weekend, I rode high on the excitement that always accompanies completing a major undertaking.

And now that the flu has fled and "The End" has been written, we return to our normally scheduled program: watching kids and working on Other People's Projects.