“All great ideas are dangerous.”
– Randall Jarrell
In my effort to maintain a higher standard of commitment to my writing, I return to the keyboard for the third straight day to put some thoughts down. While the past few entries have been somewhat profound, tonight’s is blissfully lightweight and fluffy.
I’ve written a lot of material over the years, for the page, stage, and screen. I’ve had a few ideas I can’t ever get out of my head. Those are the ones that usually take shape as something beyond a script. Beyond the Storm became a series of stage plays. The Way of Seeming became a trailer and is on the path to becoming a film. Eternia nearly became a film once, and will do so again down the line when I have some more time.
All of those stories are about something, because that’s the only kind of story I know how to write. When I say something I mean something deeper – something outside of an entertaining plot. That is present in all of them, to be sure (at least, in my opinion) but it’s not all there is. There is also subtext – and it’s the subtle kind that you don’t really realize you’re absorbing until after the fact. Each of those big stories is about something more than the people involved.
For awhile, I’ve had an idea circling. I couldn’t ever see it. I couldn’t lay hold of it. If I caught a glimpse of it in my periphery and turned towards it, it vanished. That always happens; I’ve gotten used to it. I know to simply be patient until something else draws the idea out. Sometimes it’s a conversation, a place, a person, or in this case, a song.
I’ve been listening to this one song over and over for two or three days. As soon as I realized what a tantalizing bait it was for this elusive idea, I fed it into my brain nonstop until finally, this afternoon, I was able to seize the idea and put it to paper. With it came a flood of others, all building upon the first one to lay part of the initial framework for a rather surprising story. Surprising for me, anyway.
Those who know me know that my imagination is vast. Most of my stories are set elsewhere, in elsetimes. Beyond the Storm is set in a distant country undergoing their own version of the Reformation. The Clash of Ages – which will probably be my magnum opus once it’s complete – is epic science-fantasy. Even my present-day stories are “out there” in terms of concept; both The Way of Seeming and Eternia are supernatural thrillers.
Not so this latest effort. It’s modern day. There are no ghosts. No ships. No swords. Nothing that is a Grimm staple.
That’s a daunting prospect, but a welcome one. The key to staying sharp as a writer, in my mind, is to diversify. Sample a bit of this and a little of that, so long as it doesn’t stray too far from what you know and who you are. This latest film – which thus far is low budget enough for me to direct it myself (score!) – is a down to earth, gritty drama.
And it’s going to be extremely difficult to write, because it deals with things I’d rather not think about or talk about. Put me face to face with an ancient evil or the sexy ghost of a long-dead friend – but don’t put me in the midst of the frighteningly real, brutal complications with which this story is wrought.
I’m sure if you know anything about me, I’ve piqued your curiosity. If not – well this probably seems like a self-indulgant tirade. And you’re right, it is. But that’s sort of the point of these things, isn’t it? And that’s what writer’s do anyway. In some ways, everything we write is self-indulgant. It’s an idea in our minds that we proejct outward for others to see and read. I infuse a LOT of myself into my stories. I’m a little nervous about what this new script is going to show me about myself. At the same time, I feel that tingle of excitement that I felt at the start of my other big projects.
So enough pontificating – time to get to work on this new gem. It’s going to be an interesting journey. I’m sure I’ll be blogging it more in the future, so stay tuned.