The Intrusive Talent

The lot of a would-be writer is fraught with very specific difficulties. Writing is an insular process for most, definitely in the beginning. It is a singular pursuit, it is time-consuming, it is necessarily lonely and at times frustrating.
Like a lot of creative types, writers tend to be people who, when asked, say they have always written, it’s just something that they feel compelled to do. Like a calling, maybe. The thing is with any talent, creative or otherwise, is it needs to be nurtured, practised. For most talented or allegedly gifted individuals, their gifts are not only normally noted at a young age, hence giving them more time to hone their talent, but encouraged. A fleet-footed football prodigy, an angel-voiced songstress, an artist with an eye for detail, these all things that can be spotted passively, a would-be mentor or adviser glimpsing a standout talent by chance. Even in later life, especially in the world of reality television and multimedia entertainment, a talent that can be displayed, seen or heard in passing, can be discovered.
With writing, even the most obviously blessed scribe has to have their work actively read for anyone to notice. Writing cannot be discovered passively. Once one makes that fateful decision to pursue writing, getting discovered or read is only the beginning.
Like most things in life, there will be those who like what a person does and those who do not, but unlike other undertakings, if someone reads a work that they do not like or agree with, it is unlikely that they will read work by the same author again. Unlike other prolific artists, visual or aural, one cannot be swayed by a later chance encounter with a surprisingly great work of that unfancied writer whose writing was not to one’s taste.
Every artist needs if they wish to make their hobby or passion a vocation, the implicit permission of others. A belief in one’s own ability whilst admiral, will not persuade Joe and Josephine public you are any good. Conversely, it is easy to convince people that you have no discernible talent or anything of value to add the great and good written works that already exist in the world. Nobody cares if it’s your umpteenth draft if they are going to take time and read it, it had better be good.
The reader wants different but the same, like fresh linen when you get into bed after changing the sheets. They want to see pictures in their minds as they read, whether it is a character they recognise from life or a situation they can relate to. Those are the anchors, the ‘I know this’ moments. Remember, we human beings are lazy by nature, making a person have to work out where your story, script or play might be going without a compelling premise is heresy.
I suspect that writing a book is the most difficult. Not only is it a huge commitment, there is no guarantee of it being any good or interesting to anyone else. I think with a script because it is written to be seen, most feel they can imagine a different take. A script, for the most part, suggests what direction the story and actors take. The director or editor or even the actors can bring a distinct and differing interpretation to a script. A book tells you exactly what is happening.
As the world gets progressively faster, with expectations increasingly excessive when it comes to achieving results, time is seen as the most precious of commodities. Reading is not a convenient activity for the time-poor. It is not even as though there is another option. Writing with enough brevity to make your work less time consuming is hardly going to showcase your talent. Even if it did, the interested party would most likely want more of the same. The writer’s lot is unique in its approach to gaining recognition because no one inadvertently reads a script, book or play. All one can do is keep writing and hope that someone is curious enough to read it.

Fingers and all available appendages crossed.

There is just over a week until my second foray into filmmaking and I cannot wait to get it done. I am a little more apprehensive about this film as, like anyone else who has been in the same position, I want it to be an improvement on the first. I want the pace to be better, the performances better directed, the story to punch more, I just want it better. Hence the apprehensiveness. Plus I have been reading Syd Fields and have recently finished reading Blake Snyder, so my brain is awash with story structure and plot and conflict and moving the story forward and…well you get what I mean. You can almost study too much. The sheer volume of opinion and ‘right’ way to do things can be overwhelming. There are a lot of people, writing a lot of stuff, doing seminars, sending ezines, all purporting to be telling you how to break into television, film, Hollywood or all of them.
The thing is – and this why the market is SO big for filmmaking guru-ism – they are all right. Pretty much all of what you read or hear in seminars, online, in documentary interview or whatever, is well intentioned worked-for-that-person, nuggets of wisdom. Of course there are necessary elements; story craft, framing, beginning, middle and end, the things which should always be present. At some point, you have to do the deed and, if you enjoy it, want to make a career, do it again and again until you get good – or maybe – even great, at it. My road to ‘good’ begins next Saturday.