“So what?” you are probably saying, “ We all have a little trouble balancing life at times.”
Well, aside from the fact that it points to a little condition known as OCD (that’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for those of you not up on your psychiatry), it is concerning because the result is that all the other aspects of life don’t get taken care of. Like the dishes (although there are remarkably fewer when you don’t eat), the gardening, the care and feeding of the animals, personal hygiene.
Lately, though, I’ve been surfing the web instead of waves, amazed to find so much information related to writing. The OCD is paying off in dividends. In the course of this frenzy of focus on the craft of writing, I’ve signed up for a writer’s conference, bought screenwriting software and made contact with a major screenplay development editor and am considering attending her workshop this October. (Ya, this is getting expensive.) I’ve found answers to questions I didn’t even know to ask. Like:
How do I get from an idea to a finished screenplay?
Who do I get to read my screenplay and when?
How and when do I find an agent?
How do I get a producer to read my work?
and, related to the opening of this blog entry,
Do I have to abandon all my friends, family and personal hygiene to be a successful writer?
It’s funny and a little mysterious how out of the blue all these resources have popped onto the screen, whereas for the past three years, I’ve been out in la-la land, clueless about the “hows” of getting my writing career tangibly underway. I took a screenplay writing course all those years ago and it taught me a fair amount about the nuts and bolts of what a screenplay should look like. But what it didn’t teach me is that there is this whole big world of help out there for the struggling writer – resources to help you get it done and get it done well. The screenwriting software is just el gipful auf dem eisburg (tip of the iceburg…I really like the way that sounds in German).
Among all of these discoveries, I think the thing that blew me away the most was that many writers do not work in a vacuum, holed up in their offices, cigarette dangling from their mouths, sweat dripping from their brow. There is this thing, or person, called the Developmental Editor that can lighten the writer’s burden. And the degree to which they carry the weight is really vast and varied.
The most extreme example I learned of is a shocker. According to former Rolling Stone editor Alan Rinzler, as a deadline loomed over the head of Hunter S. Thompson, his editor would have to go to his home and literally drag the story out of him. Hunter would be totally disorganized, manic and panicking because he didn’t have the story done. There’d be little pieces of paper and cigarette packets all over the place with notes scribbled on them, but nothing coalesced. The editor would sit down and ask him the who, what, when, where ,why & how, record the answers, which would be transcribed, allowing the editor to massage it into a story. The impact this had on Thompson’s success is up to you, the reader, to consider.
Bottom line? Even the most successful of writers have not attained their success effortlessly or solo. Ya, sure, there are some rare people who sit down and write a story from front to cover and get it right the first time without any help from their editor, but let’s face it, they are the exception, not the rule.
In this, the Information Age, no one should have to struggle the way I have to discover that we are not alone. It’s hard enough to write. So I’m sharing a bunch of these really great links so you don’t have to struggle quite so hard.
Linda Seger’s Script Consulting Services – useful screenwriting stuff.
Wordplayer.com – screenwriter’s column
Book Editor Alan Rinzler’s blog The Book Deal
Literary Editor Nathan Bransford’s Blog – be sure to check out The Essentials
The Writer’s Retreat
The Artful Writer – screenplay related
The Art of Story…with Margaret South – check out her online course
There’s lots more, so get out there and get inspired. I did.