Leaders and Followers

I've mentioned before that I tend to go through down periods after finishing things. Never really understood why, just always feel a little hollow whenever I get done with with a project... I realize it's weird, and that there's supposed to be some "Don't I Rock?"-style elation, but that's just not me. Post-"The Peep Show" I was having the same kind of feeling, but I felt like even being a little depressed, I still had some momentum going, momentum I should try and follow through with on other things.

I spent a night or two transcribing some old notes, mostly for that new romance comic I've been thinking of about. It's nowhere near close to being finished [there are huge gaps in the action, scenes where I know things are supposed to happen, know what's supposed to happen, I just can't seem to get those things... right], and I didn't really want push it in the mood I was in, so I figured it would be better to follow up with something that was close to being done, and that I'd put off. I figured it was pretty unlikely finishing a second thing would make me feel worse at this point.

A couple of choices popped up. This first is this old, near-completed short screenplay [really short actually... only five or six pages] called "He Walks with Angels." I've been sitting on it for a long time, and this would have made the fourth time I picked it up again, but on one read-through I realized it really wasn't something I wanted to work on now. It's ending is similar to "The Peep Show," and I wasn't feeling up to writing more about the subject, even if, barring the ending, the two stories couldn't be more different.

There was one other script I remembered wanting to work on, an idea I had last Spring during a pretty intense period of insomnia. I started going on walks during this time, because it was still cool out, and because I had a couple hours to go over to the nearby school yard's playground before anyone arrived there. I get this weird nostalgia pang when I see dew on playground equipment, something I don't know how I'd remember because I don't ever recall being allowed to play outside early enough that there would be dew on anything.

The idea wasn't wholly my own, as it was partially inspired by a story an ex-girlfriend told me on a couple of occasions, that on my remarking on she said I was welcome to take a stab at, which was awfully good of her because she's a writer too, and a way better one than me, in my not-entirely-humble opinion. Somewhere, between what we had talked about and me leaning on a soaking wet jungle gym, I got down what I remembered being a pretty thorough outline for a short piece, and was even excited enough about it at the time to tell Kyle. I got distracted with other things, other ideas I had on this early morning walks, and while I didn't forget about the project, set it aside. I figured with a full outline, I could always come back to it.

Usually my outlines are pretty detailed, to the point they often will break down a whole story scene by scene, even conversation topic by conversation topic. I kind of expected the same thing here, so imagine my surprise when I dug up the file that had said outline, titled "Misdemeanors" and just found this:

- House - Wake up.
- School - Talk, kid, breakfast, arrested.
- Police station - motivations.
- Back to House - Sex. Fight.
- Morning - Next afternoon, alone.
- School - School's out, kid.


Of course, that wasn't all, I had a few little snippets of dialogue to work from [it is me, we're talking about here], and some character names [the principles anyway], but compared to my usual level of detail, it wasn't much. So I was more than a little surprised when I opened up Final Draft and got to typing, and realized that the story I wanted to tell was still really vivid and fresh in my mind from the year previous. In fact, it all flowed out naturally, and as prompts go, that... I don't even want to call it a skeleton... up there was pretty helpful. And it's weird the things you can recall in a pinch. I found myself in the pantry yesterday, completely dumbfounded as to why I went out there in the first place, but working on this, a whole year after the first heavy thoughts had been put into it, I could still remember that I needed to decide if my protagonist's sidekick/boyfriend was from the town it was set in, or had moved there with my main character after college.

Anyway, a few sleepless nights later, what I've ended up with is a rough, 19-page short titled "The Tagalong." I'm actually feeling pretty good about it, really excited, actually. There's a lot in this that's new, sort of unexpected for me. I have a female protagonist, and I think she's a pretty good one, there's this personality there that I like, and I enjoy writing her interactions with the other characters. I get to write a kid, which I've never done before, not really, and I've sort of been obsessing over whether or not I got the voice right or not [seems like one thing I can't remember is how I talked when I was six]. And it's not all new ground either, there are still some Randall Nichols hallmarks, which yes, I know are masturbatory, but I feel good knowing they're in there. So "Tagalong" rocks that small-town dynamic, has a guy with a girl's name in it, and rocks a few references so obscure I can already hear the "I don't get it." And swears. There are lots of swears.

It still needs a lot of work, of course. Trying to write a kid is just going to be a headache, I already feel pretty far outside my wheelhouse with it. And there's another entirely, another transition near the end, that I'm already sweating every spare moment I get. But...
there's just something about this one I just like.

I'm hoping when it's finished it'll be 20 pages even, which is another weird, new challenge since I've been mostly trying to cut down on page length lately, not add more. Still, having that whole extra minute to work with is going to make changes and edits a lot more comfortable, and while I'm not ruling out ending up with a 15 minute movie, I'm still going to aim for that 20.

I have some bigger things I want to work on. Comics, features-length scripts [re: Mary Hobb, Untitled Bigfoot Horror Film, etc], but this is going to be a good primer I think, and nice transition piece while I figure out a good schedule/system for the extra books I'm getting to review, and few other things I need to do too. Watch the tags. There will be more soon.

And if anyone's interested, I'll probably be looking for readers, and notes.

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