My First Spec: Re (gulp) writing

I’m baaaack!! After an intense two weeks of writing, the eagle has landed, the hen is in the house, and my TV spec script of Bones is complete. And with 9 days to spare…sorta. I actually finished the script last Wednesday, but have been engrossed in the grueling process of re-writing. (Note: depending on who you ask, say Robert North Patterson, writing is re-writing, so perhaps I’ve only just begun…Selah.)

As a newly graduated writing major, I’ve done my share of re-writing over the years. But last Friday, I did something I had never ever done before, and I am transformed. I let my daytime boss and fellow moonlighting writer, Laurie T, read the first draft of my script. Like, the very first draft. I hadn’t even proofread for typos. Just raw, messy, first draft nakedness.

As any writer will tell you, this is akin to the Season 5 episode of Grey’s Anatomy where wild-n-crazy Sadie decides to let fellow intern Lexie give her an appendectomy in the cadaver room. Dangerous, deadly, and just plain stupid. In the past, letting anyone see my work before I was confident there was nothing I could do to make it better was out of the question. Even when I felt it was complete, getting feedback was like peeling back the skin on my hand and letting someone touch every nerve ending with a needle.

But I came to the realization that if I am ever to make a career out of writing–especially for film or television–I have to learn to let go. People are going to hate things that I write. I will be told I am a talentless hack at least a dozen times in my life if I’m doing things right. That means cutting the heart-strings early. So, I silently handed Laurie the bulging folder–no explanations, no defense, no caveats–and gave her a red ink pen. Really, I did. She’ll tell you. And she went to work on it. And you know what?

I survived.

In fact, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. She gave me some great notes, asked some really important questions, and helped me clarify dialogue that didn’t quite translate from the voice in my head to the page. It was truly a revelatory experience–one that has better informed my re-writing process and is helping me make better decisions for the audience.

So to all you writers who have always been terrified to trust your appendix to another intern with a scalpel, try it. You will never know such liberation.

(P.S. Sadie survived Lexie’s appy too–but just barely)


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