So I missed a deadline today. In actual fact, the deadline isn’t until tonight, and because of the time difference between here and Chicago (where the theatre asking for submissions is based), I could probably work on til 5 A.M and send something out then, but – let’s face it – it won’t be very good.
I was so close, though. OK, in real terms, I was a full twenty pages (or more) from the finish line, and we’re not even talking about first draft – this was draft zero – it hadn’t even got up to the level of draft zero – but, all self-effacing aside, it was in basically good shape. Still horrible, not in any way what you’d want to send off to represent the best of your writing: but still, all those qualifications included, it was in good shape.
Plus, it was fun. I tend to be a pretty slow writer, writing out of sequence, concentrating on all the ‘main’ scenes first, then spending the third, fourth, fifth drafts linking scenes together. It doesn’t matter at this stage that actually all the scenes that I’m linking with are little more than narrative glue, a method to get my characters from one place to another. I know that eventually, those scenes will find a life and a vitality of their own, and indeed may even eclipse the so-called ‘main’ scenes. It may even be that the play (or story, or novel, or whatever it is that I’m working on) is not actually about what I think it is. That’s all normal.
What isn’t normal is working the way I have been for the last couple of weeks. Of course I knew the deadline was looming, but the thing is that I had all manner of other deadlines, closer to home, that demanded more direct attention. So I didn’t think I would have enough time to give this script any attention at all.
But the script (and a reasonably neat idea) kept on calling to me. I scribbled a few pages, and those developed into five. Then eight. And I checked my calendar. And considered that two weeks might just be long enough to hack out a full script.
And I don’t mean ‘hack’ in any particularly negative sense. I mean just in the sense of getting words down on paper, very rarely looking back, powering through, motoring through the scenes (You’d think that improv experience would help me with this sort of thing). And for the most part, that’s exactly what happened: fully aware that I didn’t have much time, I sped through the script – writing, as I almost never do, in almost entirely chorological order, leaving the worries about editing for later.
And while what I have is not – yet – good enough to be sent off, it’s not awful (in my head, it really is awful, worse than awful. But I have to be a wise editor for myself). There’s a basic good shape there, and the characters are surprisingly well defined. It all falls apart in the ending, but then I’ve seen finished professional products that can’t claim any different. There’s a good structure there, and even if I had to put it on tonight (not gonna happen), I’m reasonably confident that any paying audience would have a good time.
And that was in less than two weeks. Most of which was actually spent working away from the computer.
I think what I’ve learned this month is how to stop procrastinating.