Last weekend I typed Fade out on a script. I haven’t looked at it since and probably won’t until after Christmas. I’d better not. There has to be a “cooling off” period when you work on a project before you can effectively edit it. The bigger the project/more you change, the longer that period has to be. In this case, it’s a 113 page feature.
Thing is, typing Fade out was a bit anti-climactic.
I didn’t know why I felt that way, after all, I finished it – something I’d never done until just over a year ago. I had allotted a month to write the first draft and I only needed 3 weeks. I had no difficulty getting to the end I wanted without it being contrived (by Hollywood standards, anyway). And it’s a great story. I really like the protagonist and she gets to do pretty cool stuff.
So I went deeper. Why didn’t I feel like I’d actually accomplished something major? There are literally tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of people who never get to Fade out. It was my fourth feature script. I’ve written a novel. Getting to the end isn’t the goal anymore. There was never a question in my mind that I’d be typing fade out within 30 days of typing fade in.
Getting that draft done was only the first step. I know I have at least one more major revision draft and dozens of smaller passes. Most likely – despite unwavering confidence in my awesomeness – I’ve got 2 or 3 more major revision drafts. It probably won’t actually be “done” until next year’s contest season.
I’m excited about the script but that excitement is now tempered by experience. It’s also a private story for now. Even harder than the discipline needed to reach Fade out is not sharing the first draft with a trusted reader. Stephen King knew whathe was talking about when he said NOBODY should ever see the first draft except for you.
So it isn’t done, but that’s okay. I’ve finished another important step on the way to being done. I take heart in that and am reminded of the speech that Nicole Sullivan gave at graduation. She quoted Winston Churchill – a man who understood scripting – who said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”